The air charge temperature sensor, also referred to as the intake air temperature sensor, works to monitor the temperature of the air as it enters your car engine. The engine’s computer has to have this information so it can determine how to balance the mixture of air and fuel. Hot air is less dense than cold air, so it needs less fuel to maintain a proper ratio. Conversely, cold air is denser than hot, and requires more fuel.
Every single time that you drive your car, the air charge temperature sensor is working, delivering information to the engine’s computer. In addition to monitoring engine air temperature, it also works with your car’s air conditioning and heating system. Given the workout that this component takes on any given day, it is vulnerable to damage. It can degrade due to old age, heat, or contamination, and when it begins to fail, it may respond slowly, or not at all. Like most electronic components in your vehicle, the air charge temperature sensor can be expected to last for about five years.
Signs that your car’s air charge temperature sensor may need to be replaced include:
- Hard starts
- Irregular temperature in passenger compartment
Dirty sensors can cause problems, and they can sometimes be cleaned. However, this is a very inexpensive part, and the better course of action is simply to have it replaced. If you suspect that your air charge temperature sensor is failing, or has failed, consult a professional mechanic. An experienced mechanic can diagnose your engine problems, and if necessary, replace the air charge temperature sensor.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does an Air Charge Temperature Sensor Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.