Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor Test 3.0L Nissan Maxima (1995-1999)

The mass air flow (MAF) sensor of your 1995-1999 Nissan Maxima (equipped with a 3.0L V6 engine) can be tested in 3 easy test steps, and this article will show just how. You don't need an automotive scan tool to do them, since this article will show how to test the MAF sensor with a multimeter.

This part of this test article includes some handy information that you'll need to make testing the MAF on your Nissan Maxima as easy and as head-ache free as possible. This MAF test article covers the Nissan 3.0L V6 Maxima for the years: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999. There are 4 other Nissan MAF sensor test articles:

In Spanish You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Prueba: Sensor de Flujo de Aire (MAF) 3.0L Nissan Maxima (1995-1999) (at:

Common Symptoms Of A Bad Nissan MAF Sensor

This list covers the majority of symptoms I've seen on these types of Nissan mass air flow sensors:

  1. MAF codes that light up the check engine light (CEL) on your instrument cluster.
  2. MAF sensor malfunction that DOES NOT light up the check engine light (CEL).
  3. Lean and/or Rich code(s).
  4. Fuel Trim code(s).
  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 use the test info in this article, you'll only need to use a multimeter. You can use a digital multimeter or an analog multimeter, either one will do the job.

One other tool I'm gonna' recommend is a wire-piercing probe to to test the MAF signal wire. You can see what this tool looks like here: Wire-Piercing Probe.

Circuit Descriptions Of The Nissan MAF Sensor Connector

Circuit Descriptions Of The Nissan MAF Sensor Connector. Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor Test 3.0L Nissan Maxima (1995-1999)

The mass air flow (MAF) sensor on your Nissan Maxima is a three wire sensor. One feeds power, another Ground, and the last is the one that delivers the MAF signal, that the sensor creates, to the fuel injection computer.

In the photos that you'll be using through out the article, I have labeled the wires with the numbers 1 thru' 3. Below, you'll find out what each circuit does:

  • Number 1:
    • MAF Signal Output Circuit.
  • Number 2:
    • Ground Circuit.
  • Number 3:
    • Power (12 Volt) Circuit.

The power and Ground circuits can be tested with the MAF sensor's connector disconnected from the sensor and testing the front of the connector. But I suggest you don't test those circuits this way, since the terminals could get damaged. The safest and most effective way it to use a Wire Piercing Probe to get to the signal inside the wire. If you need to see what this tool looks like, click here: Wire-Piercing Probe. Independent of the method you use, be careful not to damage the wire(s). Take all safety precautions.

How Does The Nissan Maxima MAF Sensor Work?

The mass air flow (MAF) sensor's role in the fuel injection system of your Nissan Maxima, is to measure the amount of air that the engine is breathing and to turn this measurement into a DC voltage signal that the fuel injection computer can use to do calculate fuel injection, ignition timing, and a ton of other stuff.

To be a little more specific since the Maxima's 3.0l V6 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 create and send a higher DC voltage signal to the computer than at idle. And of course when the engine returns to idle, this voltage signal goes back to a lower voltage value, which the computer also receives.

When testing this DC voltage MAF signal with your multimeter, the important thing to know is not an actual Volts DC value 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 Maxima's MAF sensor is bad or not.

3.0L Nissan Maxima Application Chart

  • Nissan
    • Maxima 3.0L
      1. 95, 96, 97, 98, 99

Nissan Vehicles:

  • Maxima 3.0L
    • 1995