As the “heart” of the A/C system, the compressor performs a critical duty in the cooling of your vehicle. A compressor is a rotating pump which circulates refrigerant throughout the A/C system.
Symptoms of a bad A/C compressor include:
- The A/C compressor won’t turn on, or stutters on and off
- The A/C is blowing warm air, and you’ve already ruled out a leak
- The circuit breaker frequently trips
- The A/C is making strange or loud noises
- The clutch is not moving
- Moisture leaks
Causes of these symptoms may include:
- Leaks can occur with the rubber or metal components of the compressor
- Over– or under– refrigerant charge
- Contamination from worn or corroded parts inside the compressor
- Broken suction lines
- Dirty or frozen coils
- Damaged wiring
- Power to the clutch can be caused by a blown fuse, bad pressure control switch, dash control module or broken circuit wire.
Consider these minor troubleshooting tips and visual/audio examination if you’re experiencing issues with your compressor. This check should be performed with the engine running and the A/C running on MAX Cool. WARNING: Do not reach into the engine compartment or touch any moving parts.
- Visually inspect the compressor and look for any signs of hose leakage, belt slippage, clutch activation or freezing of any moving part. Turn off the vehicle before attempting to make a necessary adjustment.
- Check for any wires that look loose, worn, or burned. Damaged wiring will require professional repair services.
- Listen for a squeal if the clutch pully appears frozen, or for signs of smoke or excessive heat as the belt attempts to spin the clutch. (If the clutch is indeed frozen, restart your engine. If it remains frozen, call a professional technician).
- Next, take a look at the fan motor because it can affect the compressor too. For example, a fan motor may lock when it is running, or it may have poor wings. The fan motor can also have bad components that may need replacing.
The components of your air conditioner, especially the compressor, are complex, and any type of small mishap can easily turn into an expensive repair bill if it is ignored. A simple inspection as outlined above can potentially save you a good amount of money and aggravation.