How Often Should My Car Compressor Cycle?

“How Often Should My Car Compressor Cycle?”

Your car’s air conditioner compressor is a valuable part of the cooling system. It pumps refrigerant fluid through the cooling system and without it, your A/C just wouldn’t work. Sometimes, especially as the years go by, an A/C compressor can start making noise (or the noise it makes becomes louder), particularly while “cycling” fluid. “A/C cycling” refers to the system coming on and turning off, which it does in order to maintain the correct internal pressure for the cooling to work properly. Essentially, there needs to be a balance between the high pressure system and low pressure system inside the A/C, and the compressor helps maintain that.

Often our customers with compressor cycling issues will ask “How often should my car compressor cycle?”

Cycling Frequency

ac compressor repair chico
replaced a ac compressor and kit on a dodge dakota

When everything is working correctly, vehicle air conditioners cycle about every 15 to 20 minutes. This varies by car model and compressor model, and the cycling frequency increases when the outside temperature is high, as the system must work harder to compensate.

Note also that if your car has an auto-climate system, enabling it may change the frequency of cycling. The system may work more or less in order to maintain your ideal temperature settings. One troubleshooting tip is to simply change your climate settings and see if that effects the AC cycling frequency.

Again, the cooling system must cycle regularly in order to balance the pressure inside the internal cooling system. If it sounds like your AC isn’t cycling at all, you may need AC repair service. It is necessary to safely perform air conditioning refrigerant recovery to prevent toxic fumes from spilling into your breathing air so we suggest having this done by professionals.

Basic Compressor Maintenance

Looking for tips to keep your vehicle’s A/C compressor running smoothly?

  • Run the system during the winter months to prevent damage from the cold. You’re probably more tempted to run the heater fan, but you want to use the A/C to make sure it still works when you need it. NOTE: This helps reduce condensation build up too!
  • Don’t let your refrigerant run low! If there’s not enough refrigerant for the system to work properly, you will probably notice it because the cooling won’t work as well. If this is the case, get the system inspected and refrigerant refilled as soon as possible.
  • Use quality refrigerant to keep the system running smoothly. Low quality refrigerant shouldn’t cause damage per se (presuming it’s adequate in the first place), but it can allow damage that would’ve been prevented by using refrigerant with better performance specifications. Better refrigerants are more tolerant to cold extremes, for example. Also, make sure you get the right type for your car. To learn how to choose the right type of A/C refrigerant, check out our article about “Vehicle Refrigerant Types”.
  • stop leak for a/c refrigerant leaks

    Clean the evaporator coil! If you drive a lot and especially if you go off-road, you know you have to be extra careful to get the dirt, debris, mud and other gunk outta your chassis before it causes long-term damage. The same applies to your A/C evaporator. Cooling doesn’t work if the temperature exchange from the radiator is blocked by mud. Keep it clean or it won’t work right.

  • “Stop leak” refrigerants are fluids you can put through the system in order to plug leaks in your car’s A/C compressor, refrigerant pump, or A/C lines. This can greatly improve the performance of your cooling system, especially in older systems. And remember, liquid damages compressors so you want to get those A/C leaks fixed immediately!

If you do it right, your AC compressor should last upwards of a decade before you need compressor replacement service.

Compressor Bearing Failure

This video shows you what a compressor bearing failure can look and sound like:

Low Cost Compressor Service

Think its time to replace the AC compressor in your car? We service Honda Civic AC compressors, Volkswagen compressors, Ford compressors, and everything in between. Because AC system service often requires disassembling the system, it is usually necessary for certified technicians to perform refrigerant recovery. For the reason, we don’t suggest end-user AC service repair.

Fortunately, we’re here to help! Our compressor mechanics are the best in Chico! Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to quote you on the cost of A/C compressor service and answer any questions you might have.

Need A/C service for your car? Call us at (530) 826-4275 or Text (530) 828-3007

Setup an AC inspection online by CLICKING HERE.

or Email us about Air Conditioner Service at

need your air conditioner fixed? Tedious Repairs can help!

Learn More About A/C Compressor Systems

Want to learn more about how your car’s air conditioner system works? Here’s a helpful video about the basics of an air conditioning system. Check it out by clicking this link: “How does a cars Air Conditioning system work?”

1 thought on “How Often Should My Car Compressor Cycle?”

  1. Hi, I hope you can help. One of our radiators has started making the strangest noise. It sounds like a paper bag being scrunched and always happens just after the hot water tap is turned on, and sometimes happens when the water tap isn’t on. Do you have any idea what this could be? Thanks, Jay

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