Every air conditioning system of a vehicle depends on a steady flow of refrigerant to circulate through it. This refrigerant is what allows the air conditioner to produce the cool air which comes out of the vents in the dashboard. The only way this refrigerant can continue flowing properly is from a component called an air conditioner compressor, also known as an AC compressor. What this component does is it creates pressure which pushes the refrigerant and keeps it flowing smoothly. As long as the AC compressor stays functional, you should have a stable flow of cool air coming from the vents.
AC compressors endure a lot of stress. Since car air conditioning systems get turned on and off constantly, this power fluctuation puts a lot of stress on the compressor. Over a certain number of years, this stress will wear down the compressor and cause it to eventually malfunction. That is why people who use their air conditioners on a regular basis will experience problems with them sooner rather than later.
There are some warning signs that will present themselves if your AC compressor is starting to go bad. Below are the top 4 symptoms.
Strange Noises – If you switch on your air conditioner and there are a lot of strange noises being generated, then your AC compressor is likely starting to fail. The compressor relies on a sealed bearing and numerous other components to turn. If the internal bearings or components were to get damaged or worn out, then it will make it more difficult for the compressor to operate properly. Strange noises will only be the beginning of the problem. That is why you should take this symptom as an early indicator that you need to get your AC compressor replaced.
Hot Air – If you turn on your air conditioner and you only get hot air blowing out of the vents, this is a clear indicator that your AC compressor is failing. If the refrigerant cannot circulate through the air conditioning system because of a bad compressor, then it is not going to create the cool air that you want. As a result, you will have hot air instead. This might be a gradual process where you will first feel the cool air getting slightly warmer. After a while, the air will get to the point where it is completely hot with no coolness whatsoever.
Leaking Fluid – The AC compressor has its own internal bearings which prevent fluid from leaking while it is pressurizing the refrigerant. However, if these bearings were to become worn out or damaged, then fluid could easily leak through them. You will need to replace the bearings rather than repair them.
The Clutch is Stuck – The AC compressor has its own clutch which is connected to the engine by a pulley. This allows the compressor to use the engine power only when it is needed. If the clutch were to get stuck or seize entirely, then it would not be able to transfer power from the engine over to the compressor. In most cases, you won’t be able to repair the clutch either if it has seized like this. Your only option will be to replace the entire thing.