How to Use CRC Throttle Body Cleaner

Cleaning your throttle body is easy and everyone should follow these easy steps to properly maintain and care for their cars throttle body and mass airflow sensor

Is your car running poorly? Are you experiencing poor acceleration? Is your car idling rough? Do you have an ODB-II P0101 check engine code? These are all signs that your car’s throttle body may need some regular maintenance. Most drivers don’t know that they can clean their cars’ throttle body and a mass airflow sensor in about 45 minutes.

By Maurice Rodriguez
November 1, 2021

A modern car’s engine is full of electronic sensors that monitor throttle position, air flow, and many other variables to make your car’s engine run efficiently, smoothly, and at max performance. These components need to be cleaned regularly to remove grime, carbon buildup, and other contaminants. One of these components is the throttle body and mass airflow sensor.

Fortunately, CRC and WD-40 make dedicated products that clean the throttle body and mass airflow sensor a breeze. Cleaning these parts is something anyone with a few tools, an hour, and some cleaners can accomplish with relative ease.

What is a Mass Air Flow Sensor?

Mass Air Flow Sensor – A mass airflow sensor is located between your air intake filter box and your intake manifold. A mass airflow works by being heated by an electrical current that is attached to a wire harness. As air passes over the heating element of the MAF sensor it calculates the amount of electricity required to re-heat the sensor. As more air passes the more it cools and the greater amount of current necessary to heat the element. But, this is why the MAF sensor needs to be cleaned periodically since dirty, dusty, grimy air collects on the element as air passes and may give a false, inaccurate reading to your car’s ECU computer. If your car has more than 75,000 miles on the odometer you should consider performing these maintenance steps.

Close up old throttle Body of car in engine room with and a man hold air filler cover in car service engine throttle valve cleaning and maintenance

What is a Throttle Body Unit?

A throttle body unit is usually an aluminum housing that contains a butterfly valve that rotates open to regulate the amount of air flows in a combustion engine. If the valve’s surface is dirty, and cannot seal or open because it is covered in dirt, grime, or dust it will cause the engine to perform poorly.

5 Signs Your Throttle Body Needs Cleaning

  • Poor fuel economy – The engine’s ECU computer gets information from the MAF sensor to regulate the air intake. Poorly performing MAF sensors or throttle bodies will make the engine perform badly under acceleration. This will cause the engine to run rich (too much gas) or lean (not enough fuel) which will burn excessive gas or starve your engine. Either condition is not ideal.
  • Idles poorly – If you sit in stop-and-go traffic, your car’s ECU will regulate idle to consume less fuel but bad MAF sensors will send bad signals if dirty and give the engine an uneven idle.
  • Stalling – When an engine starts or is under acceleration, it will require an accurate MAF sensor reading. If your sensor is dirty and gives inaccurate readings, you will experience stalling.
  • Hesitation under acceleration –  Inaccurate MAF sensor signals will provide poor information and acceleration will suffer.
  • Check Engine Light – A P0101 ODB-II error code reads, “MAF circuit operating range or performance problem.” This is because the MAF sensor is no longer in the correct operating range and cannot get an accurate reading.

Where is my Mass Air Flow Sensor and Throttle Body Unit?

We help you find your Mass Air Flow sensor and Throttle Body Unit on most cars and trucks. If you are new to working and maintaining your car you might not know how to find your MAF sensor and throttle body. This easy guide below will help you locate it in no time.

The throttle body unit is upstream from the MAF sensor and needs to be exposed to be cleaned. We show you how this is generally assembled on most cars and how it all goes back together.

How To Clean Your Throttle Body in 45 minutes

Material List

  • Cleaner
  • Set of Metric Nut Driver wrenches
  • Set of Allen Wrenches
  • Torque Wrench
  • Scouring Pad
  • Old Toothbrush
  • Inspection Mirror
  • Blue shop towels
  • Work light
  • White Paint Marker
  • Safety Glasses
  • Rubber Gloves                                                                 

How-to Steps

Step 1. Safety. Make sure you wear safety glasses and protective gloves. These are very caustic chemicals that can irritate the eyes and skin if they come into contact. So, please use care when handling these cleaners.

Step 2. Battery. Disconnect ground terminal on the battery to avoid any electrical issues

Step 3. Ventilation. Perform these steps in a well-ventilated area and on a cold engine to avoid any flames

Step 4. Consider labeling hoses, connectors, and air ducts before removing them. Use a white paint marker to make reconnecting easier

Step 5. Remove Mass Air Flow sensor which is located on the air intake boot. It will usually have a couple of retaining screws and an electrical connector that just unplugs.

Step 6. Once the Mass Air Flow sensor is removed spray it with CRS mass air flow cleaner and let air dry for 15 minutes before reinstalling

Step 7. Remove air intake boot to get to the throttle body. Most throttle bodies are made of aluminum and have a distinct butterfly valve on the inside that opens and shuts to allow airflow in.

Step 8. Spray the throttle body with CRD throttle body cleaner. Spray the outside of the valve and the inside as well by holding the valve open with your free finger.

Step 9. Use the inspection mirror to see if all debris is being removed. 

Step 10. Scrub throttle body with scouring pad or toothbrush as needed

Step 11. Clean. Wipe excess dirt and spray with the blue shop towels

Step 12. Let also air dry for about 15 minutes

Step 13. Reconnect air intake boot, clamps, MAF airflow sensor, and electrical connector

Step 14. Reconnect your battery

Step 15. Turn the car on and let it idle for 5 minutes

Step 16. Test. Drive your car for a few miles to see if you notice a performance improvement.

Step 17. If you had a check engine code P0101, clear the code and see if it returns.

Step 18. Done

How to Use CRC Cleaner

Best Throttle Body Cleaner: CRC Throttle Body and Air-Intake Cleaner

CRC is the most trusted name in throttle body air intake cleaners since 1958. They are a global supplier of lubricants, and industrial chemicals in automotive, marine, and aviation equipment.

CRC specially formulates their air intake cleaner to remove any carbon, varnish, and grime that can build up over time. This cleaner is safe to use on all gasoline engines making your car run smoothly and efficiently.


  •  Specialized cleaner formulated for throttle bodies
  • Safe on all gasoline engines
  • Removes all carbon buildup, grime, and varnish
  • Leaves no residue


  •  Use in a well ventialted area

Best Mass Air Flow Cleaner: CRC Mass Air Flow Sensor Cleaner


CRC was the first to produce a Mass Air Flow sensor cleaner on the market specifically designed to clean modern engine’s MAF sensors. CRC MAF sensor cleaner is safe to use on any material including plastic and dries almost instantly leaving no residue or chemical traces.


  • The first specifically designed Mass Air Flow Sensor cleaner
  • Safe on all MAF sensors
  • Reduces poor idle, hesitation, and improves engine perfomance
  • Leaves no residue


  • Use in a well ventilated area

Best All in One Product: WD-40 Specialist Carb/Throttle Body & Parts Cleaner

WD-40 is a trusted name in lubricants and specialized solvents. WD-40 Specialist Carb/Throttle Body and Parts Cleaner is a great degreaser and works great on unpainted metal parts. However, since WD-40 does NOT explicitly say its product can clean a mass airflow sensor I would only use CRC MAF Sensor Cleaner. I would generally advise using chemical solvents for their intended purpose.


  • Works on carburetors, throttle body, and unpainted metal parts
  • Safe on all gasoline engines
  • Power solvents remove stuck on grime and carbon buildup


  • Should not be used on MAF sensor


Does throttle body cleaner work?

Yes. CRC and WD-40 offer two great products that are safe to use on any gasoline engine, remove carbon buildup, and leave no residue. We recommend that if your car or truck has over 75,000 miles you should consider cleaning your throttle body and mass airflow sensor.

What are the symptoms of a dirty throttle body?

The symptoms of a dirty throttle body are poor fuel economy, poor idle or stalling, P0101 check engine code, and poor acceleration.

Can you spray throttle body cleaner into throttle body?

Yes. But you must let the cleaner evaporate and wipe excess fluid and dirt with a shop towel. Let evaporate for approximately 15 minutes before reinstalling.

Can you clean the throttle body without removing it?

Yes. It’s better if you do not remove your throttle body and only remove the air intake boot. Removing the air intake should give you access to the throttle body enough to allow you to clean it thoroughly.


We hope this extensive guide on using CRC cleaners to maintain your throttle body and mass airflow has convinced you that this job is easy enough for any novice mechanic can tackle in one afternoon with some basic tools, cleaners, and this guide.

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