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How Often Should My Car Compressor Cycle?

How Often Should My Car Compressor Cycle?

why does my car ac compressor turn on and off
why does my car ac compressor turn on and off

Your car’s air conditioner compressor is a heart of your cars AC system. It pumps refrigerant fluid through the system. Without a compressor, your A/C will instantly fail to work. Sometimes, especially as the years go by, an A/C compressor can start making noise, particularly while “cycling” Freon. A/C cycling refers to the system coming on and turning off, which it does in order to maintain the correct internal pressures for the Freon to operate properly.

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

Cycling Frequency

Why does my car ac compressor cycle on and off? When everything is working correctly, vehicle air conditioners cycle about every 15 to 20 minutes. This varies by car model and compressor model, but this time decreases 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, 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. The proper AC recover equipment or machine is required by law.

Basic Compressor Maintenance

  • Run the system during the winter months to prevent damage from the cold. You’re probably much 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! The defroster will run your air conditioner pump and keep things circulating from time to time. 
  • 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 temperature off the air coming from the vent is warmer,  and the time it took to cool off is longer than it once used to be. You may also notice the ac compressor is coming on and offer really quickly making a more rapid noise. 
  • 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. To learn how to choose the right type of A/C refrigerant, check out our article about “Vehicle Refrigerant Types”.
  • 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 out of 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 products you put into your air conditioner ports in order to plug leaks in your car’s A/C system, pump, or A/C lines. This can lead to more trouble than its worth! These type of product will plug expansion valves in your dash and cause all sorts of extra work, it can also clog up your condenser. 

Ac compressors can last a long time with proper maintenance. Getting your system recharged and inspected every 5 years can help prevent early failure. I would like to see a compressor last 10 years or longer!

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IS your car AC compressor cycling in your car? We service and test units in case your ac compressor is short cycling. Because AC system service often requires disassembling the system, it is necessary for certified technicians to perform refrigerant recovery in most cases. For the reason, we don't usually suggest end-user AC service repair.

Fortunately, we’re here to help! Our car air conditioner compressor mechanics near me are the top rated crew 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. Top rated car AC compressor replacement near me in Chico California. 

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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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