Air conditioning unit in a car being tested

Signs of a Failing A/C Compressor in a Car

How to Tell if Your Air Conditioning Compressor is Failing

Now that the summer heat has arrived, is your car prepared to keep you and your passengers cool? Sometimes, a component called the A/C compressor can go bad inside of a vehicle, hindering or even stopping the air conditioning’s ability to cool the cabin. Here are a few signs to watch for that signal a failing A/C compressor in a car.

Warm Air Instead of Cool Air Coming from the Vents

When you turn on your A/C, does cool air come out of the vents? While some air conditioning systems may not be able to immediately start cooling the air, it should begin sending you cool air within a couple minutes. If it continues to give you warm air instead of cool air, the A/C compressor may be to blame.

Mechanic checking the air conditioning compressor in a car

Loud Noises When Turning on Your A/C

As you turn on your A/C, listen for loud noises. If you hear strange sounds from starting up your air conditioning, your A/C compressor is most likely beginning to fail. If you hear skipping or squealing, it’s likely that the belt can no longer properly turn due to the bad A/C compressor.

Refrigerant Leak

In order to cool the cabin, the A/C compressor needs enough refrigerant. When there isn’t enough refrigerant, the air conditioning won’t be able to properly cool. Sometimes, this is due to a refrigerant leak in the system. If your vehicle is leaking refrigerant, you should get the problem fixed right away as it can become a health hazard for you and the environment.

Stuck Compressor Clutch

Sometimes, the clutch inside the A/C compressor can become stuck. This means that if the clutch is stuck in the “off” mode, the A/C won’t work at all. If it is stuck in “on” mode, the A/C would constantly be running and can lead to early wear and damage to the air conditioning unit. To check if the compressor clutch is stuck, pop the hood and reference your owner’s manual on its location. Have the A/C turned on and check if the clutch is spinning once you locate it.

[ READ MORE: Things to Do to Prep Your Car for Summer ]

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