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What To Do When Your AC Compressor Is Failing

In terms of comfortable driving there are few components more important than your vehicle’s AC compressor. It’s job is to both pressurise and keep the air refrigerant circulated which in turn keeps your air conditioning system operating at peak performance. As it is the only moving part in your air conditioning system and it works by switching on and off continually, it is vulnerable to wear and tear.

If your AC compressor fails there is a good chance that over time it will spread debris through the rest of your air conditioning system, usually in the form of tiny metal filings. This creates a knock-on effect where the condenser becomes contaminated which results in higher pressures and restricted flow. Should you replace the broken compressor the extra work it will need to do to pump refrigerant to the blocked condenser will result in yet another failure.

ac compressor

How To Tell If Your AC Compressor Needs Replacement

Given it’s important to replace an AC compressor as soon as it starts to fail we should be aware of what signs to look for. Luckily for us there are several easy to recognize signs that the compressor is on its way out:

Warm Air Coming Through The System

The first sign is the most obvious and while there can be other causes one of the most likely culprits for warm air circulating throughout your car or truck is a failing compressor. If you notice warm airflow coming from your AC vents there are 3 possible reasons; low refrigerant, a refrigerant leak or a failing AC Compressor. This is the most common reason customers bring their vehicle in for an AC system inspection.

You Hear A Noise When The AC Is Running

While it can be normal to hear a slight click when your AC system is switched on and off, being able to hear loud noises when the unit is turned on is definitely a reason for concern. The AC compressor is made up of moving parts such as the clutch as well as sealed bearings allowing it to spin. Should any of these parts break you will hear a variety of sounds that all mean something is not right.

Moisture Leaking

We mentioned before that a reason for your car circulating warm air could be low or leaking refrigerant but these causes can also be the result of a failing AC compressor. In fact as the compressor circulates the gas it is most likely the cause which results in warm air being moved throughout the cabin. Leaking refrigerant is not only a health concern but it also causes increased energy consumption.

Compressor Clutch Is Not Moving

While this sign might be for those with more understanding of what is under the hood, a stuck clutch is a sure sign your compressor is not working. Much like a manual transmission, your AC compressor has a clutch that connects it to the engine pulley via a belt to draw power when it needs to. If you can see that the belt is not moving when you engage your AC then it is time to bring it in for an inspection and servicing.

ac compressor
ac compressor

Summary Checklist For AC Compressor Health

All of these symptoms present a handy checklist we can go through to determine if your AC compressor needs replacing. The first step is to check the temperature of the air coming through your AC vents when the system is on. If its warm then it is likely the compressor is on the fritz. If the temperature is cold but fluctuating it is also an indicator of a failing compressor.

After that we can check the compressor for physical damage as well as rust and any oil leaks. While this means you will have to locate the compressor it is one of the easiest ways to determine there is an issue. Checking the clutch is also recommended and we can do this easily by engaging the system and then making sure the belt moves smoothly and the clutch rotates freely.

Noises are also part of our diagnosis and are quite obvious. Simply turn the AC on to the coolest setting with the fan on max and then keep an ear towards the compressor. Loud noises, grinding, and anything out of the ordinary are immediate signs that the AC compressor is not healthy.

What Should You Do If Your AC Compressor Needs Replacement?

If you have noticed one or more of the above symptoms and are concerned about the health of your vehicle’s AC system we encourage you to bring your car in for an inspection. While you can replace the AC compressor yourself we recommend any work like this be carried out by a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) expert. Our team of qualified auto electricians are just this and have worked with just about every AC system there is.

We offer obligation free quotes on all work we carry out so you really have nothing to lose by bringing your car in. As we have discussed the need to attend to a failing AC compressor is dire in order to prevent additional costs down the road as it damages other components. There are also health concerns regarding leaking refrigerant which makes playing it safe the best course of action.

Should you suspect your AC compressor is failing or has stopped working completely, give us a call on 07 5495 7333 to arrange a time to bring your vehicle in. We also offer a mobile auto electrical service should you want us to visit you at home or on site to carry out the replacement. If you would like us to get back to you via email, please head on over to our contact page and fill in the form there.