Air Conditioning Compressor for Car is one of the central parts among the many other components of the car’s air conditioning system. The entire A/C system will not be able to perform its main function of creating cool air inside the car without it. Its main function is compressing or putting the necessary amount of pressure on the car’s refrigerant to be able to activate its heat-transfer features and change temperatures. This helps your car remain cool in the warmer months and retain a clear windshield in the colder months.
When you ask what a refrigerant is, it is a chemical that transfers heat from an indoor furnace coil to an outdoor condensing unit. AC units come with the amount of refrigerant they'll need for the rest of their lives. The only time a technician should need to add refrigerant is if there is a leak that they can find and repair or if the refrigerant lines joining the outdoor unit to the coil indoors is uncommonly long, like over 50 ft.
As technologies advanced, productions along assembly lines also sped up as vehicles became cheaper and easier to make, allowing auto manufacturers to sell their vehicles to consumers at lower prices many people can finally afford. One of the greatest innovations of course was air conditioning. Air compressors have made life a bit more easy for people since the early days of automotive assembly, especially in the humid depths of summer months.
Cars were made with A/C systems allowing families to travel and go on vacations even during the winter with greater comfort because temperatures inside of passenger compartments could already be lowered by at least 20° from the outdoor temperature all because of the air conditioning compressor for car.
Air Conditioning Compressor for Car Parts and Variations
The air conditioning compressor for car makes the whole A/C process possible and these are its parts and variations:
- Its housing containing the compressor’s section, oil fill, and valves,
- Its connecting points for refrigerant pipe connections, and the pulley that has electromagnetic (EM) clutch
There different types and variations on the other hand include the following:
- The most common variable or fixed swashplate
- Electrically-driven that is used in hybrid cars
- Rotary (spiral and vane)
How Air Conditioning Compressor for Car Works
Before anything else, it is important to be familiar with how the A/C compressor and refrigerant relate. By refrigerant, meaning Freon, which is a commonly used refrigerant with the consistency of a fluid that essentially makes cold air out of hot air. The compressor and refrigerant are vital duo working in conjunction with each other.
The car’s engine then propels the air conditioning compressor for car in its main role of compressing the refrigerant that is used to absorb the heated air inside the cabin of an automobile.
As stated above, the most common A/C compressor used is the swashplate type, where a pulley and V-belt drive the compressor that is attached to the car’s engine block. An electromagnetic clutch sets the belt drive in motion when switching the A/C system. The swashplate is oscillating six double-ended pistons, which are responsible for compression as well as intake.
The amount of refrigerant flow is being controlled by reed valves. Then a thin mist of oil circulates and mixes with the refrigerant providing the right amount of lubrication to the moving parts.
The air conditioning compressor for car takes in gas from the refrigerant through the evaporator, which causes pressure to drop. Lowered pressure then causes the refrigerant to evaporate at a low temperature and then the air conditioning compressor takes that cold vapor and compresses it.
The refrigerant gas is warmed and pushed through the pipes into the condenser during compression, where it re-liquefies and emits heat. It then moves into an area in order to cool. The refrigerant will then absorb heat from the passenger compartment. It will then be turned back into a gas state in the evaporator before being sucked in by the air conditioner compressor.
Symptoms of a Bad Air Conditioning Compressor for Car
The air conditioning compressor for car as it functions in a continuous cycle on and off, is subject to wear mostly as the car is being driven. So just like any other component on a vehicle, it will eventually wear out and need to be replaced.
And like other car components, a bad air conditioning compressor for car will produce a few warning signs that hopefully alert the driver that it already has a problem. It is important to have a properly functioning compressor as the compressor is the part responsible for pressurizing and distributing the refrigerant. Once there is a problem with the compressor then the rest of the AC system will be affected.
Here are the warning signs to watch out for:
- Temperature in the cabin is higher than normal
One of the first signs that a compressor is already having trouble is that the air conditioning is no longer blowing as cold as normal. A failing or already damaged compressor will also fail to properly regulate the flow of the refrigerant in the AC system, resulting in the AC no longer functioning properly.
- Loud sound when the compressor is switched on
Loud sound when the air conditioning is running is another possible warning sign of a failing compressor. The AC compressor, like other accessories powered by the engine's belts, has many interior components and rotates on a sealed bearing. If some of the interior components fail or seize, the compressor's internal bearings will fail or seize, resulting in a number of noises.
A leaking or worn-out bearing produces a high-pitched squealing or grinding sound, while a seizing or seized bearing makes a grinding noise or a clear belt squeal. Owing to the complexity and design of how compressors are installed, replacing the entire compressor rather than attempting a repair is typically the safest choice.
- Compressor clutch is not moving
The clutch not moving is another sign of a faulty compressor. The compressor's clutch allows the pulley to engage and disengage from engine control, enabling the compressor to turn only when necessary.
The clutch can either seize, preventing the compressor from receiving engine power, or it can detach, preventing the compressor from receiving engine power. Although the clutch itself may be replaced, removing the entire compressor is typically the most cost-effective solution.
The air conditioning compressor is the system's beating heart. Consider getting the device diagnosed by a skilled technician if you think your compressor or another part of your vehicle's system is having problems. They would also be able to replace the compressor if necessary.
The most common reason that an air conditioning compressor for a car fails is wear-and-tear due to age or neglect. If your compressor has already failed then you will have to replace it. It is recommended that you use one that has been remanufactured. Take note that you will need a recovery machine for your protection and your surroundings’ protection while extracting the refrigerant.
Air Conditioning Compressor for Car Maintenance
Before the air conditioning compressor fails best to do proper maintenance with your compressor and fortunately the steps are simple and minimal. Here are the steps:
- Regularly use the compressor regularly so all of the elements of the system remain properly lubricated.
- Charge the refrigerant so you could ensure the right levels of pressure in the AC system.
- Tighten and clean the drive belts as much as needed.
- Do electrical checks on both the switches and sensors, together with the EM clutch’s fuse, relay, and coil.
- Turn the air conditioner to its highest fan speed and the coolest setting once a week for about 10 minutes to maintain gas pressure and keep the compressor working properly.
- Use your AC even during winter as one of the air conditioner's major functions is to remove humidity from the cabin. It works especially well when you have to remove fog from the windshield so you could improve visibility.
Although the air conditioning compressor can benefit from the lack of use during the winter months, it can also cause it to stagnate if left unused for a very long time. To avoid the A/C going into permanent hibernation, turn it on for at least 10 minutes every 30 days between the winter months of November to February.
Granted, the functions in question here are not limited to the A/C in all vehicles. In some cars, the compressor is also utilized to offer heat and ventilation, both of which tend to be used primarily between late fall and early spring.
- Refresh the cooling system with gas and lubricant every 2 years.
Air Conditioning Compressor for Car: Common Issues
In general here are some of the common issues that can arise if you neglect to give your compressor the maintenance that it needs.
Electrical Problems. Voltage or current imbalances can cause overheating and failure.
Lack of Lubrication. Leaks or low lubricant levels can cause inefficiency or compressor failure.
Low Refrigerant Charge. Leaks can result in insufficient refrigerant flow, shortening the life of your compressor as it makes it work harder.
System Contamination. Too much heat and pressure may introduce harmful pollutants such as moisture, air, soil and acids into the system.
Refrigerant Leaks. A refrigerant leak may be detected by bubbling or hissing noises near refrigerant lines, ice on refrigerant lines, high electric bills, or an AC blowing warm or hot air. It is not a good idea to try to fill the refrigerant yourself because it is a very harmful substance.
The refrigerant is in a closed-loop, so unless there is a leak, it can never run low. If the leak is not discovered and repaired before the refrigerant is refilled, the problem will recur. It is important to fix the leak before attempting to refill the refrigerant.
Air Conditioning Compressor for Car: Other Frequently Asked Questions
How much is a new AC compressor for a car?
For the part alone, an AC compressor unit can cost anywhere from $195 to $736, while parts and labor can cost anywhere from $376 to $986. This will vary depending on the car model and the extent of the repair, with some units being significantly harder to replace than others.
Is it safe to keep driving my car with a blown AC compressor?
Even if the air conditioning compressor for car has failed, you should be able to drive but there are a few things to keep in mind. The compressor pulley should not be able to affect belt tension or the operation of the other belt-driven accessories as long as it rotates smoothly, without any wobble or noise. Also bear in mind that even if the air conditioning switch is turned off, if you select the “Defrost” setting, the compressor will still try to engage.
Is it worth replacing compressor on AC unit?
Air conditioning compressor for car is a costly component to replace. Since most bad compressors are more common in older air conditioners, it will be more cost-effective to start over with a new air conditioner rather than paying to replace a compressor in a system that's already wasting energy and only a few years away from being discarded.
How long does an air conditioner compressor last?
The compressor and refrigerant in a car’s air conditioning should last 12-15 years in average, and like any other car parts depending on maintenance and handling.
Knowing what components are essential and how to maintain the compressor will help your air conditioner operate efficiently for the duration of its lifespan. Certain factors can still affect the lifespan of a compressor like a vehicle’s age for instance.
While it is true that new vehicles tend to come with more durable compressors, the toll of mileage can still affect any of the internal parts. So even a durable compressor will still get affected by repeated undue stress over time.