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

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.

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

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  • Nissan Maxima 3.0L: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999

NOTE: There are 4 other Nissan MAF sensor test articles:

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.

This MAF voltage signal is sent to the fuel injection computer so that it can calculate the amount of fuel injection, ignition timing adjustment, and a ton of other stuff.

To be a little more specific:

  • When the engine breathes in more air (higher RPM), the MAF sensor produces a higher voltage signal output.
  • When the engine breathes in less air (lower RPM), the MAF sensor produces a lower voltage signal output.

So if the Maxima's 3.0L V6 engine is revved up to 2,500 RPMs, the MAF sensor produces and sends a higher DC voltage signal to the computer than at idle RPM. Once the engine returns to idle RPM, the voltage signal (produced at 2,500 RPM) 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 confirm that the MAF voltage signal increases/decreases as engine RPM increases/decreases.

If the MAF sensor has failed, you'll see that its voltage signal output will stay stuck in one value regardless of engine RPM.

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.

TEST 1: Making Sure The MAF Sensor Is Getting 12 Volts

Making Sure The MAF Sensor Is Getting 12 Volts. Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor Test 3.0L Nissan Maxima (1995-1999)

The first thing to test and verify is that your Nissan Maxima's MAF sensor is being supplied with 10 to 12 Volts.

If power is present, then the next step is to make sure the MAF sensor is getting Ground.

Alright, here's the test:

  1. 1

    Place your multimeter in Volts DC mode.

  2. 2

    Probe the wire that's identified with the number 3 in the photo with the red multimeter test lead.

  3. 3

    Connect the black multimeter test lead to a good Ground point, preferably directly on the battery negative (-) terminal.

  4. 4

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

  5. 5

    If all is good, then your multimeter should display 10 to 12 Volts DC.

Let's analyze your multimeter test result:

CASE 1: Your multimeter registered 10 to 12 Volts. This outcome confirms that the Maxima's MAF sensor is getting juice (power). 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 still no voltage, then this test outcome exonerates the Maxima's MAF sensor as the cause of the MAF code or MAF issue, since without this voltage, the MAF sensor will not produce a signal to the computer.

Finding and repairing the source of this missing voltage will resolve the MAF sensor code or problem with your Nissan Maxima.

Nissan Vehicles:

  • Maxima 3.0L
    • 1995