Signs of A/C Compressor Failure

Compressor Repair and You!

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The A/C compressor is one of the essential parts of your car air conditioning system. Without it, cooling gases (ie air) could not be produced at the switch of a button and then carried right onto your sweaty brow. Without the common A/C compressor, who knows where we'd be know, but for sure, we'd be hot. But how can you tell when you're having A/C compressor issues, and when is it time to get professional A/C compressor repair? And how Does the Compressor Work?

A/C Compressor System Basics

Car compressors work by pressurizing A/C refrigerant and passing it through a high/low pressure system into the condenser. The Condenser phase-changes the refrigerant gas to a liquid state, which can then be evaporated again. These different phase-changes are passed through the system exchanging hot and cool air in order to cool the interior of your car. To keep this system running, normally the compressor takes power transferred from the engine’s crankshaft via a compressor belt. This transfer of power/energy reduces fuel economy, however. By disabling the A/C system, the A/C compressor clutch releases and spins freely, reducing friction against the crankshaft and improving fuel economy.

If you’re looking for more complex technical information about how compressors work in general (all compressors, car and otherwise), check out this general info page on Wikipedia:

Common Signs of Compressor Problems

If you pay attention, it can be fairly obvious when your compressor is broken, or something else is wrong with the cooling system. Check for these common issues for signs that your AC compressor is broken (or might be):

  • Cooling isn’t working at all, or not working well

  • Loud noises, especially when cooling system is working harder

  • Using the A/C trips your vehicle’s circuit breaker (likely due to overworking the A/C system)

  • The compressor clutch sticks or does not move at all

  • Moisture leaks, into the engine compartment or possibly even into the cabin

What You Can Fix Yourself

With the right tools there’s some things you can do yourself of course, as we show in the video below:

Many jobs on A/C systems require specialized tools like refrigerant reclamation systems as well as extensive time and training, but compressor belt replacement is a fairly reasonable job if you need to do it (presuming you have the tools of course). Due to there being so many different makes and models of cars and trucks, we can’t give you specific advice on A/C compressor drive belt replacement, but if you’re curious about how the process works in general, check out this video on YouTube:

Of course, make sure you study how to do this for your own make/model of vehicle and don’t just follow this one generalized video. Check your vehicle manual for more information specific to your needs.

When To Get Compressor Service

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If you're hearing weird noises, get bad air circulation, smell weird smells, or somehow spidey-sense you need A/C compressor repair service, please give us a call and we'll be more than happy to help get your system cool again.

Thanks for reading, and tune in next week for more. Or, if you’ve ever wondered which A/C compressor oil is the right one for your vehicle, check out this article to see what A/C oil is right for you!

Which A/C Compressor Oil Should I Use?

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1 thought on “Signs of A/C Compressor Failure”

  1. It caught my attention when you said that the compressor of your auto’s AC must have problems if it is making loud noises and when its cooling is not working well. With this in mind, I will be sure to hire a professional that could have my SUV’s AC checked and replaced as necessary. It has been making grinding noises and blowing warm air, especially in the afternoon.

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