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P1101 Chevy Cruze: MAF out of self-test range. How to fix?

When you start your Chevy Cruze and a check engine light comes on, you will want to connect your scanner to find out what could be causing it. P1101 is one of the diagnostic trouble codes you may encounter when you run an OBD II scan on your car. This code has to do with the car’s intake air flow system performance, as the scanner will indicate. 

The mass airflow sensor of every Chevy Cruze runs a self-diagnosis whenever its engine is started and when the results are below a certain threshold, the P1101 code is flagged.

P1101 Chevy Cruze: Definition and Meaning

P1101 is the standard OBD II code for mass airflow (MAF) sensor out of self-test range.
A mass air flow sensor
Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/

Definition: MAF (mass air flow sensor) Out of Self Test Range

P1101 is the standard OBD II code for mass airflow (MAF) sensor out of self-test range. This trouble code is an indicator that there is a problem with the voltage on the MAF sensor, as detected by the powertrain control module (PCM). 

There is one trouble code related to the P1101 code: P0171. Resolving the P1101 may lead to this code being cleared as well.

Symptoms of P1101 on Chevy Cruze

Here are some of the tell-tale signs of a P1101:

  • Unsteady idling with the needle moving erratically between 600 and 1500 rpm. 
  • Engine rattles a lot when idling
  • A hissing sound from the engine during idling
  • Smoke coming from the PCV valve cover
  • Lack of power when accelerating

How Serious is P1101 on Chevy Cruze

The P1101 trouble code will not cause your Chevy Cruze to stop running. It will, however, interfere with the normal running of the car by causing it to lose power and idle in a manner that may irritate or worry the driver. The inefficiency in generating power will mean that the vehicle will consume more fuel than normal. Markedly increased consumption may cause drivers to seek to address the P1101 code with more urgency. If the code is not cleared in good time, it could lead to further engine complications. 

How to Diagnose and Fix P1101 Code on Chevy Cruze

PCV Valve: One of the possible causes of P1101 is a faulty PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve. You can ascertain this by popping the engine cover and listening for a hissing sound. When you’re sure that the source of the engine noises is the PCV valve, the cause of the code is a leaking valve cover. You will then need to replace the faulty one with a new valve cover.

Inlet hose: Another probable cause of the trouble code could be the inlet hose. It’s, therefore, a good idea to feel for a loose connection or a breakage in the hose. Confirm the clips on the intake hose are nice and tight. Also, check on the exhaust hoses and connectors in the same way. If any of these connectors or hoses are leaking, you will need to replace them and test to see if the trouble code clears. In winter it is not uncommon for rodents to seek shelter under your hood and gnaw at wiring components. So the issue could be a break in the electrical wiring where the MAF plugs into the intake.

Vacuum leak: A leaky intake seal is another possible cause for the P1101 trouble code. Your local mechanic can ascertain this by conducting a smoke test. This will allow him or her to pinpoint the source of the vacuum leak. A vacuum leak happens when air flowing into the intake doesn’t go through the throttle.        

MAF sensor: The mass air flow sensor could have a problem as well. You can find this out using a simple multimeter. If the problem is with the MAF sensor itself, clean the sensor with a specialized cleaner and let it dry completely before reinstalling it. Should the problem persist, replace the sensor. 

Air filter: Lastly, pull out your air filter and check for any dirt that could be clogging it. If you find any debris there, remove it. Replacing it entirely may be the only option if it is very dirty. 

After making the above changes, you can confirm how effective they have been in dealing with the problem by starting your car engine and looking out for any warning lights. You can then plug your scanner back in and see if the P1101 code pops up again. If it doesn’t, it means you have resolved the problem. You may need to repeat this over and over while making the above adjustments in order to pinpoint the source of the code. 

Causes of P1101

Here are all the possible causes of this trouble code:

  • A malfunctioning MAF sensor
  • Vacuum leak
  • Blocked air filter
  • Faulty wiring where MAF connects to intake

Common Mistakes When Diagnosing P1101

There are many mechanics who immediately recommend the replacement of the MAF sensor when simply cleaning it could have done the trick. Some mechanics overlook checking for a vacuum leak altogether, meaning the code will keep popping up.

The MAF sensor is very sensitive and should be handled with care when checking if it is the source of the P1101 trouble code. It is not uncommon for mechanics to ruin it by inadvertently touching the sensor’s element. 

Tips on How to Avoid P1101 in the Future 

Carrying out regular maintenance on your car could help you avoid a recurrence of P1101. You could also develop a checklist to make sure that your mechanic doesn’t miss out on anything. Replacing engine air filters could help prevent clogging that could interfere with the functioning of the MAF sensor.

When replacing parts in your Chevy Cruze, be sure you get them from an authorized dealer. Usage of ingenuine parts could lead to, for instance, vacuum leaks appearing prematurely. 

Keeping your car clean can go a long way to preventing problem code P1101. It can keep dirt from blocking up the air filter that sends air through the MAF sensor. 

Read more: How to Interpret Freeze Frame Data

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