How Do I Know if My Car’s AC Compressor Is Bad?

How does an AC compressor work? How do I know if my AC compressor is bad? The AC compressor of your vehicle works as the heart of its air conditioning system. It distributes the refrigerant and makes the cabin cool. If there is a problem with the AC compressor, the efficiency of your car’s AC will be compromised. Even if you lack experience, you can observe some signs to know it warrants a replacement or not.

A bad AC compressor can cause more damages than your expectation. If you ignore it for a while, you might need to spend more on the replacement. Therefore, whenever you notice any sign of damage, you should reach out to experienced professionals to fix the condition at an early stage. If the condition is irreparable, they might suggest you a replacement. Let’s know how an AC compressor works and when you should consider visiting a mechanic.

How Does an AC Compressor Work?

As mentioned earlier, an AC compressor is an essential part of your car’s air conditioning system. It works like the heart of the AC system and regulates the coolness inside your vehicle. An AC compressor works in the same way our heart works for our body. It circulates fluid, the refrigerant through your vehicle’s air conditioning system. You can imagine what will happen if it stops working or when its performance will be compromised. You will not get the desired coolness.

The compressor will compress the refrigerant from its gaseous state to the fluid state. It will send the refrigerant to the condenser. The condenser will act as the heat exchanger by removing the refrigerant’s heat. After this, the refrigerant will go to the expansion value to return to the original gaseous state. There is an accumulator to remove the refrigerant’s moisture.

Once the moisture is removed, it will be transferred to the cabin’s evaporator. The cold refrigerant will cool the air while passing through the evaporator, and then the cooler air will be sent out into your car’s interior via a fan. An efficient AC compressor can offer you the required comfort and coolness inside your vehicle. However, when its efficiency is compromised, you will notice a major difference.

Signs an AC Compressor Is Not Working Well

Higher Temperature

From the above, you might have realized that how an AC compressor works to maintain the coolness inside of your vehicle. When you notice that the coolness is not as efficient as before, then it might be an indication that the AC compressor has some problem. If the compressor is damaged, it cannot regulate the refrigerant flow in the right manner. As a result, your AC will not function properly. When the AC system will not work efficiently, the inside air will be hot. It is the first indication that your AC compressor warrants a repair. You should not ignore this condition. In brief, we can say that when you feel that your AC is not blowing cold air, you should check your AC compressor. A faulty compressor might be the culprit.

Unpleasant Noises

Even if your AC system is working well to maintain the coolness inside the vehicle, a strange noise can be an indication of a faulty compressor. A noise comes when you switch on or off your air conditioning system. However, that noise is not unpleasant or loud. A loud noise might be caused by a bad compressor. There are several interior components in an AC compressor. The compressor will have sealed bearings as well. When some of the interior components do not work properly, a strange noise might come. You can experience the same problem when the internal bearings stop working. In that condition, you will have to change the compressor to bring back the efficiency. If you ignore the condition, it will stop working after a few days. It is suggested to consider a replacement as soon as possible since a bad compressor might impact the efficiency of your air conditioning system.

Fluid Leaks

As mentioned above, an AC compressor comes with internal bearings. The internal bearings will act as a shield for the refrigerant. It will prevent any leaking out of your AC compressor. A compressor maintains the coolness inside your vehicle by pressurizing the refrigerant. The constant pressure will impact the efficiency of the bearings and damage them over time. Damaged bearings will cause leaking. A leaking refrigerant might cause a strange sound as well. Many people do not find the reason behind the constant noise. The moisture leak causes noise in the compressor. The refrigerant helps to turn the hot air into cold air. When the refrigerant leaks, it might run out of the chemicals that help to turn hot air into cool air. As a result, the AC unit will start blowing hot air. A leaking refrigerant will cause health issues, and it will also increase energy consumption. Therefore, you will have to replace the compressor fast to minimize the impact.

Stuck Clutch

Like a manual transmission, your AC compression will have a clutch. The clutch serves a specific purpose. It enables the pulley to disengage or engage from the engine power. The clutch is connected to the engine of your vehicle and draws power from it. It uses the power whenever needed to activate the compressor. If the clutch does not work or breaks, the compressor will stop working. It will not receive power from the engine anymore. It is worth mentioning that you can repair the clutch. If the damage is minor, the mechanic can fix it. However, you will have to replace the clutch when the condition is beyond the repair. In some cases, you might need to replace the AC compressor.

Squealing Belt

Another condition is the squealing belt. You might hear a strange sound while starting your air conditioning system. The sound is an indication that your AC compressor is not working fine, and the belt is unable to turn with it. You might not be able to find out the cause of the sound. You can take the help of mechanics to find out the causes. They can help to fix the condition fast as well.

Broken Suction Lines

The broken suction line is the indication that your AC compressor is not in proper working condition. When the compressor does not operate properly, the refrigerant line will be blocked in your AC system. For this problem, you do not need to replace your AC compressor. Instead, you can visit experienced mechanics to fix the condition. They can unblock the refrigerant line to ensure smooth functioning. However, if the lines are damaged, they might consider a replacement.

Circuit Breaker Tripping

A faulty compressor might impact the performance of your outside condensing unit. If you notice that the outside unit cannot hold power, then the poor compressor might be the culprit. A bad compressor can cause circuit breaker tripping. When it draws too much power, it causes overheating. That makes its circuit breaker trip. Many people reset the circuit breaker and then turn the system on again. However, first, you will have to check with your mechanic, and then you can decide the next step. It is worth mentioning that a circuit breaker can prevent a fire hazard, and you should not try to fix it without skills.

Damaged Wire

Any damaged wire is an indication of a bad compressor. Remember that a damaged wire presents severe safety concerns. It can cause fire or pose a serious threat. When your AC unit is exposed to fire or similar electrical problems, the compressor will receive either too much or too little power. It can damage the compressor without leaving any scope for repair. In that condition, you will have to replace your AC compressor.

These are a few signs of a bad AC compressor. You will have to address these issues at the earliest possible to minimize the repair cost. When your AC system stops operating, it will impact both your health and wallet. A refrigerant leaking will cause health issues. Also, it will not be able to turn warm air into cool air. You will be uncomfortable in your vehicle during the summer. If you consider early repair, you will have to spend less. If you ignore it for a long, it will damage your AC system. As a result, you are going to spend much more on the repair. When the wires are damaged, the expense will be even more. It will damage your car. Therefore, you will have to spend on the compressor and some other parts of your vehicle.

Wrapping Up

Now you are armed with all the required information. You can diagnose the signs and find out the cause. If you find any potential issue, take your vehicle to an experienced mechanic straight away. Even if you are unable to find out any possible reason, talk to a mechanic. The professional can fix the issue fast without hurting your budget. You will have to address the condition as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might end up spending much more.

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