Mass Air Sensor Issues Could Cause A Shakey Ride
Vehicles need regular maintenance, and some parts can begin to wear down faster than others. If you've started to notice a rattling noise from the front of the car or have been dealing with a lot of strange noises following an accident, keep a few inspection points in mind to get to the bottom of the issue.
Front End Issues: Engine Shaking
An engine can lose its stability through a number of loose components, but being able to drive while the engine shakes is limited to a few parts--anything else being loose would be a nearly instant breakdown. The mass air flow sensor is one major culprit.
Internal combustion engines rely on a reaction ending in an explosion to send pistons up and down, which powers the rest of the engine. To explode, there needs to be fuel, a quick spark source and oxygen. With not enough oxygen or too much oxygen, the explosion can either be too weak or at the wrong time in relation to the other precisely-timed actions in the engine.
When a mass air flow sensor is leaking or sending too much air, the explosions can become erratic. Most engines can regulate their own air intake for a sufficient (but not completely efficient) set of explosions, but a dedicated supply of the wrong amount of air from the air flow sensor can cause shaking in the engine that can shake your entire car.
Isolating Mass Air Flow Sensor As The Culprit
To be sure of the issue, drive around for a few minutes, then park in a safe parking lot without turning off your car. Shift the car into neutral to feel if the shaking stops or becomes weaker. Shifting to a different gear or shifting to neutral changes the amount of air needed by the engine, which can be felt easier while parked.
If the engine continues shaking, there may be other imbalance issues. Different Toyota models may have an engine mount (also known as a bushing) that is bound by a set of sturdy pegs rather than a wide frame. Being involved in a wreck, rocky terrain or even the shaking from a mass air sensor problem could loosen or break the engine mount in some parts, allowing the engine to shake a bit too freely.
If you'd rather have a professional replace the unit or disconnect it for you, carefully drive to a Toyota repair professional for a detailed analysis and a deeper inspection to find anything else that could have shaken loose.