Frontier, XTerra MAF Sensor Test P0100: Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit Malfunction

Frontier, XTerra MAF Sensor Test P0100: Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit Malfunction

Testing the mass air flow (MAF) sensor on your 98-04 2.4L Nissan Frontier (or 2000-2004 2.4L Nissan Xterra) is not that hard. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to do it with just a multimeter. That's right, no scan tool required.

In Spanish You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Sensor MAF (2.4L Nissan Frontier, Xterra) (at:

NOTE: In case this isn't the test tutorial you're looking for, there are 4 other Nissan MAF sensor test articles I've written and you can find them here:

Symptoms Of A Bad Nissan MAF Sensor

This list covers the majority of symptoms I've seen with this type of Nissan mass air flow sensor:

  1. The check engine light (CEL) is lit on your Nissan instrument cluster.
  2. A P0100: Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor Circuit Malfunction DTC (diagnostic trouble code).
  3. Engine usually idles OK, but when you give it gas, it may stall.
  4. Engine may be hard to start after stalling.
  5. A tremendous lack of power upon acceleration.
  6. Black smoke coming from the tail-pipe.
  7. Bad gas mileage.
  8. Vehicle may idle rough and stall.

What Tools Do I Need?

To troubleshoot/diagnose your MAF sensor as good or bad, the most important tool you're gonna' need is a multimeter. Here are a couple more details/suggestions:

  1. Multimeter
  2. Wire piercing probe
    • Although not an absolute must, this tool is a time saver of the first order. To see what this tool looks like, click here: Wire Piercing Probe.
  3. A scan tool
    • A scan tool is not a must-have tool to follow this tutorial, but how else are you gonna' read the trouble codes lighting up the check engine light? If you're looking to buy one, check out my recommendation here: Actron CP9580 Scan Tool Review (at:

Circuit Descriptions Of The Nissan MAF Sensor Connector

Frontier, XTerra MAF Sensor Test P0100: Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit Malfunction

The mass air flow sensor on your Nissan Frontier Pick Up (or Xterra) has three wires attached to it. You'll notice that the photos (in the image viewer) have the MAF connectors lettered A thru' C. I'll be using these letters for the circuit descriptions. Here's the description of each circuit below:

MAF Sensor Connector Pin outs
Pin Wire Color Description
A Black w/ Pink stripe Power Circuit (10 to 12 Volts)
B Green Ground Circuit (provided internally by the fuel injection computer)
C Red MAF Signal Circuit

  * Your specific Nissan vehicle may have different colors.

How Does The Nissan Frontier (Xterra) MAF Sensor Work?

The mass air flow (MAF) sensor's job is to measure the amount of air that the engine is breathing. And this measurement of the air flow is sent to the fuel injection computer as an analog DC voltage signal.

To be a little more specific since your Nissan Frontier's (Xterra's) four cylinder engine will breathe in more air at, let's say, 2,500 RPMs than when it's sitting at an idle of 900 RPMs this will cause the MAF sensor to send a higher DC voltage signal to the computer than at idle. It's as simple as that!

When testing this DC voltage MAF signal, the important thing to know is not an actual Volts DC number at a specific RPM, but to look for crazy and extreme fluctuations in the MAF voltage signal that don't correspond to the actual air intake (RPMs) of the engine or NO SIGNAL AT ALL. In the TEST 3 section of this article, I'll show how you just how to test this so that you can confirm that your Nissan Pickup's MAF sensor is bad or not.

Where To Buy The MAF Sensor And Save

You can buy the 2.4L Nissan Frontier (2.4L Xterra) mass air flow (MAF) sensor at your local auto-parts store. I know that AutoZone sells it, but depending on which one you want to buy, it will either cost you US$390 or US$415 (as of this writing) and this is EXPENSIVE!!!

Another option you may want to explore is buying this bad boy online and saving a lot of money. Below, you'll find two links (to the same place) so that you can shop and compare and see what option is best for you! By the way, the Hitachi MAF0110 MAF sensor is the original equipment sensor:

NOTE: Not sure if the mass air flow (MAF) sensor fits your particular vehicle? Don't worry. Once you get to the site they'll ask you for the particulars of your vehicle and they'll check it fits. If it doesn't fit, they'll find you the right one.

TEST 1: Making Sure The MAF Sensor Is Getting Power

Making Sure The MAF Sensor Is Getting Power. Frontier, XTerra MAF Sensor Test P0100: Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit Malfunction

The very first thing we're gonna' do, is to make sure that the MAF sensor is getting power. This power comes in the form of 10 to 12 Volts DC when you turn the key to the ON position.

The procedure I recommend for you to use (to accomplish all of the tests below) is to use a test probe that pierces thru' the wire's insulation (Wire Piercing Probe).

Whatever method you use, the key here is not to damage the female terminal or the wire. If you decide to probe the front of the MAF sensor's connector with your multimeter leads. Again, be careful. Use common sense and take all necessary safety precautions.

OK, let's get this show on the road:

  1. 1

    Place your multimeter in Volts DC mode.

  2. 2

    Probe the MAF sensor wire, that's identified with the letter A in the photo, with the red multimeter test lead.

    This is the black with pink stripe (BLK/PNK) wire of the connector.

  3. 3

    Connect the black multimeter test lead to the battery negative (-) terminal.

  4. 4

    Turn key ON but don't crank or start the engine.

  5. 5

    Your multimeter should display 10 to 12 Volts DC if battery power is present.

Let's interpret your test result:

CASE 1: Your multimeter registered 10 to 12 Volts. This tells you that the MAF sensor is getting power (10 to 12 Volts DC). The next step is to test the Ground circuit, go to: TEST 2: Making Sure The MAF Sensor Is Getting Ground.

CASE 2: Your multimeter DID NOT register 10 to 12 Volts. Recheck all of your multimeter connections and retest.

If your multimeter still doesn't register 10 to 12 Volts, then you've found the reason why the MAF sensor is not working (without power, it won't function). Restoring power to this wire will get the MAF back on its feet.

Nissan Vehicles:

  • Frontier 2.4L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • XTerra 2.4L
    • 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004