Most people are well aware of just how important the compressor in their car’s air conditioning system is. The compressor is pretty much the heart of your entire system and the reason why the system is able to provide your car with the cool air that it needs in the summertime. But what people don’t always realize is that your car’s AC compressor wouldn’t be able to do its job without an AC compressor clutch. This clutch is every bit as important as the compressor itself. Learn more about what an AC compressor is and what you’ll need to do to replace it when the time comes.
What Is an AC Compressor Clutch?
When you don’t have the air conditioning on inside of your car, the pulley that’s attached to your AC compressor spins freely at all times. It does this to free up some of the power that it would normally consume so that your car is able to get better fuel economy. But as soon as you turn your car’s air conditioning on, that all changes.
When your car’s AC system is turned on, the AC compressor clutch in your AC system will spring into action and begin to transfer power from your engine to the pulley that’s attached to your AC compressor. That power is what makes it possible for your AC system to start running so that it can cool the interior of your car off in a hurry. It makes your AC compressor clutch one of the most vital aspects of your entire AC system.
How Does an AC Compressor Clutch Work?
You might not necessarily realize this when you turn your air conditioning on inside your car, but your vehicle’s AC system requires quite a bit of power when you’re using it. If your AC system were to run all the time, it would cause your car’s fuel economy to dip. It would also put a huge strain on your car’s engine at all times and wear it down much quicker than it would otherwise.
Your AC compressor clutch works to prevent these things from happening. With a fully-functioning AC compressor clutch in place, your AC system won’t stay on all the time. It’ll only turn on when you tell it to, and that will cut down on the amount of power that your AC system wastes. This would not be possible without an AC compressor clutch.
How Long Will an AC Compressor Clutch Last?
Now that you know just how essential an AC compressor clutch is to the overall well-being of your car’s AC system and your car itself, you should work to keep yours in great condition. One way you can do this is by learning about how long your AC compressor clutch is going to last so that you can replace it accordingly should the need arise.
Fortunately, you shouldn’t have to replace the AC compressor clutch in your car very often. Generally speaking, most people won’t ever have to replace an AC compressor clutch while owning a car. It’s not a part that fails all that often in the grand scheme of things, especially when you compare it to other parts in your AC system and your car as a whole.
There are some things that can cause your AC compressor clutch to fail on you, though. Here are several things that could cause it to go bad and force you to replace it:
- Friction material in your AC compressor clutch that gets worn down by oil, dust, moisture, heat, and more
- Bearings in your AC compressor clutch that wear down and give out
- Brackets, tensioners, and belts that aren’t installed the right way
Ideally, you won’t ever have to take your car into the shop to have AC compressor clutch replacement done. But you could be put into a position where you have no choice but to do it if your AC compressor clutch wears down on you and fails.
What Are the Signs of a Bad AC Compressor Clutch?
As we just talked about, there is a decent chance that the AC compressor clutch will stay strong for many years to come without wearing out on you when you first get your car. But if it ever does give out on you and fail completely, it’s not going to be too difficult for you to tell. You should spot at least a few signs indicating trouble before long.
Many times, the check engine light in your car will pop on as soon as you start experiencing issues with your AC compressor clutch. Additionally, your car’s AC button might start flashing when you try to turn your air conditioning system on when you have a bad AC compressor clutch. There is even a chance that your car’s compressor might turn on and not turn off at all when your AC compressor clutch is on the fritz.
And that’s only the beginning. Take a look at a few other things that might occur when your AC compressor clutch goes bad below:
- The pulley that’s attached to your AC compressor may freeze and make a squealing sound when you turn your AC system on
- Your AC compressor clutch may struggle to engage your AC system’s compressor when your AC system is turned on
- Your entire AC system may experience a lack of pressure
Don’t ignore any of the signs of a bad AC compressor clutch that we just mentioned. You could find yourself dealing with even more serious problems if you do.
Can You Drive Your Car Around With a Bad AC Compressor Clutch?
If you suspect that you might have a bad AC compressor clutch in your car, you might wonder whether or not you have to fix it right away. Is it something that is going to require your immediate attention—or something you can get away with not fixing for a few months? It really all depends on a variety of factors.
First and foremost, you should consider if you’re going to be able to keep the interior of your car comfortable without relying on your AC system. If you live in a place that doesn’t get too hot, you may be able to keep on driving your car with a bad AC compressor clutch in it. You can simply roll your windows down to cool your car off rather than leaning on your AC system to do it.
But you should also consider the condition of your car’s AC system if you make the decision to keep on driving a car with a bad AC compressor clutch in it. A bad AC compressor clutch could cause the belt that drives your AC compressor to wear down way quicker than it should. That could result in damage being done to your AC compressor and leave you with a more costly repair job on your hands.
Outside of wreaking havoc on your AC compressor, a bad AC compressor clutch might also lead to problems with the serpentine belt in your car. You could be forced to replace that sooner than you may have expected to, too. It’s why you should strongly consider having AC compressor clutch replacement done right away.
Is It Possible to Replace a Bad AC Compressor Clutch on Your Own?
In the event that you find yourself with a bad AC compressor clutch in your car, you might be tempted to try and fix it yourself. How hard could it be to take a bad AC compressor clutch out and pop a new one into its place to get your AC system up and running like usual again?
If you’re very skilled when it comes to working on cars, you might be able to replace a bad AC compressor clutch on your own without any problems. But more often than not, AC compressor clutch replacement turns into a much bigger job than expected for those who don’t have a heck of a lot of experience working on AC systems in cars.
There are times when it’ll be impossible for you to replace an AC compressor clutch. In some instances, a mechanic will have to replace the entire compressor in a car’s AC system as opposed to just the AC compressor clutch. This is because certain AC compressor clutches cannot be serviced and repaired.
But even if you have an AC compressor clutch that can be repaired or replaced on its own, it’s still going to be too difficult for you to do it yourself. You could hurt yourself or do additional damage to your AC system if you don’t know exactly what you're doing. You should leave AC compressor clutch repairs and replacements up to the professionals.
Who Should You Trust to Put a New AC Compressor Clutch Into Your Car?
Rather than attempting to repair or replace an AC compressor clutch on your own, you should take your car to a mechanic or, better yet, a car AC specialist to work on it for you. They’ll be able to diagnose the specific problem that’s plaguing your car and talk to you about what they would recommend as far as AC compressor clutch replacement is concerned.
If they find that you do, in fact, need to replace your AC compressor clutch with a new one, they’ll then get to work and get the job done correctly the first time. They’ll also make sure that they test your AC system out when they’re finished and recharge it, if necessary, to get it working the way it’s supposed to again.
How Much Does a New AC Compressor Clutch Cost?
If your car needs a new AC compressor clutch put into it, it’s not going to be particularly cheap to do it. The AC compressor clutch is a small part of your AC system, but it can cost a lot of money to replace it. On average, you’re going to have to pay somewhere between $600 and $670 to replace your AC compressor clutch. The AC compressor clutch will cost more than $400, while the labor associated with AC compressor clutch replacement will run you right around $200.
The price to put a new AC compressor clutch into your car might seem steep, and it might make you reconsider your decision to replace it. But you shouldn’t get hung up on how much it’s going to cost if you’re going to continue driving your car around. The last thing you want to do is not take on AC compressor clutch replacement and end up paying even more money later to fix other components in and around your AC system.
Is the AC Compressor Clutch Cost Worth It?
Are you going to be keeping your current car for at least another year or two? If you are, then it probably makes all the sense in the world to pay to have a bad AC compressor clutch replaced. The costs that come along with doing it are going to be well worth it since it’ll allow you to continue using your car’s AC system without fear.
If, however, you don’t anticipate keeping your current car around for much longer, it might not be worth paying upwards of $600 or more to fix a bad AC compressor clutch. That’s a lot of money to pay for a car that’s not going to be in your driveway for much longer.
What If You Don’t Want to Fix a Bad AC Compressor Clutch in Your Car?
If you decide that you’re not going to shell out more than $600 to fix a bad AC compressor clutch, you might be stumped as far as what you should do with your car next. Is anyone going to want to buy a car that has a bad AC compressor clutch in it? Actually, yes. There are junk car buyers who would love to take your old car off your hands, bad AC compressor clutch and all.
Cash Cars Buyer is one such company that will gladly purchase a car with a bad AC compressor clutch from you. We’ll give you top dollar for your vehicle and prevent you from having to pay a small fortune to get it fixed. Get in touch with us today to get the best possible offer for your old car.