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Air flow meters are used to measure the quantity of air going to the car engine. All modern electronically controlled Diesel engines use an air flow meter, as it is the only possible means of determining the air intake for the engine. In the case of a gasoline engine the electronic control unit can then calculate how much fuel is needed to inject into the cylinder ports. In a diesel engine, the ecu meters the fuel through the injectors into the engines cylinders during the compression stroke.
When an Air flow meter may fails or wears out, engine performance will often decrease significantly, and engine emissions will be greatly increased. Usually the Malfunction Indicator Lamp on the cars dashboard will light. In most places in the United States where emissions inspections are obligatory, a lit MIL is cause for a vehicle to fail the inspection. The same is also true for a vehicle in the United Kingdom, a vehicle will fail its MOT test if emissions are above the required standard.