The intake air temp sensor monitors the air temperature going into
the engine, and sends the data to the engine management computer.
The computer then adjusts fuel mixture to match some pre-set target
values, using the air temp data as input. The idea is to keep the
fuel mixture optimal in all driving conditions and climates.
If the temp sensor is bad or is sending wrong signal, the computer
will meter wrong amount of fuel into the engine. It may give it too
much fuel, causing the engine to run rich. (Carbon deposit buildup,
possibly ignition trouble as the carbon keeps building up, fouled
plugs, fouled sensors here and there, poor mileage
, faster cylinder
wear when fuel washes the oil off the cylinder wall....)
It could also adjust the mixture too lean, which would cause
detonation/pinging, overheating parts of the engine, poor
performance, and in extreme cases mechanical failure like broken or
burned valves and pistons. The intake air temp sensor is generally
found in the air cleaner box, or the big pipe/hose leadig to the
throttle body. Usually it's a small thumb size sensor with 2 wires
going to it. I can't remember or find detailed descriptions on where
it is in YOUR vehicle. Sorry.
In other words, it is a critical component used to determine how much fuel is injected into the engine at any given time.
Edited by Jan Andersson on 9/23/2009 at 2:53 AM EST