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Air is essential to engine operation. In fact, your engine is really just a giant pump designed to suck in as much air as possible. This air is mixed with fuel vapors (atomized gasoline) and then ignited. Without the right mix of air and fuel, the ignition will be off (too rich or too lean). A number of factors must be taken into account where airflow is concerned, including density, volume and temperature.
The air charge temperature sensor is mounted to your intake, and works in tandem with other sensors to ensure that the car’s computer has the right information necessary to adjust the air/fuel ratio appropriately for the demands of the driver. Really, the air charge temperature sensor just measures the temperature of the incoming air. Warm air is less dense, while cool air is denser. This gives the computer the data necessary to adjust the mixture to provide the right performance.
Over time, the air charge temperature sensor is exposed to high heat levels from the engine, and it will eventually fail through normal wear and tear.
The air charge temperature sensor is just one of several essential components that ensures your engine is able to operate correctly and provide the performance you need. Over time, it can wear and fail. If that happens, you can expect to see poor engine performance, and the Check Engine light will come on. If you suspect the air charge temperature sensor has failed or is failing, have one of our expert mechanics inspect and replace the sensor if required.
Without the necessary information about air volume, density and temperature, your car’s computer cannot determine the right air/fuel mixture. As a result, you could see either lean or rich operation, both of which can damage the engine. Replace a faulty air charge temperature sensor as soon as possible.