P2281 OBD-II Trouble Code: Air Leak Between Mass Airflow (MAF) Sensor and Throttle Body

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Cost of diagnosing the P2281 code

P2281 is a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) for "Air Leak Between Mass Airflow (MAF) Sensor and Throttle Body". This can happen for multiple reasons and a mechanic needs to diagnose the specific cause for this code to be triggered in your situation. Our certified mobile mechanics can come to your home or office to perform the Check Engine Light diagnostic for $70.00. Once we are able to diagnose the problem, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $30.00 off as a credit towards the repair. All our repairs are backed by our 12-month / 12,000-mile warranty.

Cars Estimate Credit towards follow-up repair Earliest Availability
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BMW$70.00$30.00
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Check Engine Light

Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2281

P2281 code definition

Air Leak Between Mass Airflow (MAF) Sensor and Throttle Body

Related Trouble Codes:

  • P2282 : Air Leak Between Throttle Body and Intake Valves

Engine Misfire Codes that may be a symptom of the P2281 diagnostic trouble code:

  • P0300: Random/Multiple Cylinder Misfire Detected
  • P0301-P0314: Cylinder 1-14 Misfire Detected
  • P0363: Misfire Detected-Fueling Disabled

What the P2281 code means

The P2281 diagnostic trouble code is an indication of the existence of an air leak between the MAF sensor and the Throttle Body.

The MAF sensor uses an electrical wire to make a determination as to the amount of air that is being permitted to enter the air intake system. This information is sent through this wire and delivered to the powertrain control module (PCM) as a voltage signal. The PCM will then make changes to the delivery of fuel and the spark timing based on the information that it receives through this voltage signal.

If the voltage signal reading of the manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor sends a voltage signal to the PCM that does not coincide with the voltage signal that is sent from the MAF sensor, the P2281 diagnostic trouble code will be stored and the check engine light will come on.

What causes the P2281 code?

  • Faulty MAF sensor
  • Faulty MAP sensor
  • Faulty intake air temperature (IAT) sensor
  • Faulty brake booster
  • Faulty positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve
  • Faulty injector o-ring
  • Throttle body gasket leak
  • Intake manifold leak
  • Air inlet that is damaged
  • Contamination of the MAF sensor vane, caused by debris or moisture
  • MAF, MAP or IAT sensor wiring that is damaged, broken, shorted, or frayed
  • MAF, MAP or IAT sensor connectors that are damaged, corroded, or disconnected
  • Faulty PCM

What are the symptoms of the P2281 code?

How does a mechanic diagnose the P2281 code?

  • Uses an OBD-II scanner to collect all trouble codes that have been stored by the PCM

  • Inspects the MAF, MAP, and IAT sensor wiring and circuitry for damage, breaks, shorts, or frays

  • Inspects the MAF, MAP and IAT sensor connectors for damage, corrosion, bent pins or disconnections

  • Repairs or replaces any wires and connectors that do not pass inspection

  • Clears all trouble codes and completes a test drive to see if the P2281 diagnostic trouble code comes back (if so, it will be necessary to check for vacuum leaks)

  • With the car running and while applying the brake, checks for vacuum leaks in the vacuum lines, hoses, air inlet tubes, and fuel injector

  • Inspects for vacuum leaks at the intake manifold, EGR valve, throttle body gasket, air inlet tubes, and brake booster

  • Repairs any vacuum leaks that are present

  • Clears all trouble codes and completes a test drive to see if the P2281 diagnostic trouble code comes back (if so, checks the MAF sensor for dirt and debris and clean the MAF sensor as necessary)

  • Clears all trouble codes and complete sa test drive to see if the P2281 diagnostic trouble code comes back (if so, completes a test of the MAF, MAP and IAT sensors using the manufacturer’s instructions

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P2281 code

  • Replacing the MAF sensor when cleaning it could have resolved the problem

  • Making an incorrect diagnosis as a result of neglecting to thoroughly inspect vacuum lines for leaks

How serious is the P2281 code?

A diagnostic trouble code is normally considered serious when it causes driveability issues or a change in performance. While the P2281 trouble code is stored in the PCM, some symptoms that may be present are stalling, poor acceleration, difficulty starting, and/or having a rough idle. For this reason, this trouble code is considered serious. Operating this vehicle will be difficult and this trouble code should be diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible.

What repairs can fix the P2281 code?

  • Replacing a faulty MAF, MAP or IAT sensor
  • Replacing a faulty brake booster
  • Replacing a faulty PCV valve
  • Replacing a faulty injector o-ring
  • Repairing a throttle body gasket leak
  • Repairing an intake manifold leak
  • Repairing or replacing a damaged air inlet
  • Repairing or replacing a contaminated MAF sensor vane
  • Repairing or replacing damaged, broken, shorted, or frayed MAF, MAP or IAT sensor wires
  • Repairing or replacing damaged, corroded or loose MAF, MAP or IAT sensor connectors
  • Replacing and reprogramming a faulty PCM

Additional comments for consideration regarding the P2281 code

It is important to determine whether cleaning the MAF sensor and repairing vacuum leaks will resolve the P2281 diagnostic trouble code before replacing the MAF sensor.

Need help with a P2281 code?

YourMechanic offers certified mechanics who will come to your home or office to diagnose and repair your vehicle. Get a quote and book an appointment online or speak to a service advisor at 1-800-701-6230.

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