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Car Overheats When the AC Is On: Potential Causes, Symptoms, And Solutions

car overheats when the AC is on

If your car overheats when the AC is on, the problem might be related to a bad compressor, radiator, cooling fan, coolant sensor, or cooling system. Consider cleaning the radiator, flushing or topping off the coolant, or checking the cooling system for further investigations to resolve the issue.

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The AC system is critical, especially if you're driving in areas where summer is extremely hot. However, engine overheating troubles are more severe during summer conditions, and that's why if your AC causes engine overheating, you might be dealing with a completely serious problem.

When your car overheats every time you turn on the AC system, you'll need to get a solution to resolve the issue before dealing with major complications that could cost you thousands of dollars. But, first, you'll need to understand the main causes, symptoms and familiarize yourself with the potential solutions.

If your car overheats when the AC is on, this article is purposely for you! It provides you with ultimate guidance about what you need to understand to deal with this issue and resolve the problem without paying a lot of money.

Car overheats when the AC is on: main symptoms

Since engine overheating is one of the most critical problems your engine might face, it is critical to understand what symptoms you should experience every time your car overheats, especially those related to the AC system.

Therefore, the first step in car overheating when the AC is on is to understand what symptoms you should be looking for to confirm the issue. Let's take a closer look at what automotive experts summarized in terms of the main symptoms of car overheating when the AC is on:

1-    The temperature gauge reads very high

The temperature gauge is responsible for communicating with you as a driver and letting you know your current engine temperature. Therefore, you must keep an eye on this gauge all the time to prevent dealing with engine overheating without paying attention.

If you realize that this reading is higher than the maximum threshold, you should immediately pull over and deal with the issue before dealing with major complications.

2-    Your car is hotter than before

And an overheating does not only impact the engine itself but also, you'll feel that the overall environment inside your car is hotter than before. Therefore, if you're uncomfortable not only because the temperature is hot outside but also due to internal issues, you should consider the issue seriously and resolve it before things get more complicated.

3-    The engine is making weird ticking noises

Whenever you hear any weird noises coming from your vehicle, you must take it seriously. Whether these noises are coming from the engine or any other component, it is a way to grab your attention for internal problems that need immediate solutions.

Therefore, you'll notice that the engine compartment is making weird ticking noises indicating that the engine is getting hot, and you must flow over to the reservation.

4-    Your engine is completely shut down

Obviously, if you ignored initial symptoms indicating engine overheating, your engine might eventually shut down completely, indicating a significant problem. But, of course, you don't want to get to this point because it might indicate that the engine completely failed down.

5-    Your engine compartment smells hot

Although it might sound a little bit weird when your engine is very hot, you'll notice some weird smells telling you that the engine is getting hot. Both smells are not necessarily burning smells or rubber melting, but it's just an indication that something is getting very hot underneath the hood.

6-    It will be harder to accelerate

When the engine is overheating, you'll find it a little bit harder to accelerate because the engine is overstressed all the time.

Keep in mind that many of these symptoms might be linked to other problems, not necessarily the AC system. Therefore, before moving forward and checking the AC system, you should consult your mechanic and get an idea about what other more common causes for engine overheating are that you should look into before checking the AC.

Car overheats when the AC is on: potential causes

As you might notice, engine overheating is associated with serious symptoms that might be scary to many drivers. Therefore, you must understand the potential causes behind the issue, especially those related to the AC system.

According to automotive experts, there are five common causes for your car to overheat when the AC is on:

1-    Problems with the AC compressor

Every time you turn on the AC system, the compressor will send some pressure on the engine. So you'll immediately notice that your engine is working harder whenever you turn on the AC system.

If the compressor has problems like those related to seizing, it might stop from rotating, and it will send some extra pressure on the engine, causing it to work more and overheat.

Therefore, whenever you notice that your car overheats when the AC is on, check the compressor and confirm that it's working properly before moving to the next elements in this list.

2-    Troubles with the radiator

Like the issues with the AC compressor, if the radiator has some blockage or clogged contaminants or debris comma, it won't send extra pressure to the engine and negatively impact your car that. You will see this impact in the form of engine overheating or other troubles in your vehicle’s performance.

3-    Malfunction with the cooling fan

In many vehicles, an extra cooling fan is responsible for cooling your engine down when it overheats. If the fan is not working properly, you will notice that your car overheats when the AC is on, and this happens specifically when you're driving in traffic, and your vehicles are not at higher speeds.

That's why the cooling fan is not working properly; most drivers will complain that their vehicle overheats when they're in traffic without knowing what exactly is causing the issue.

4-    Troubles with the cooling system

Aside from issues with the cooling fan, if the cooling system is not working properly, your vehicle will overheat whether you turn on the AC system or not. You probably might notice the overheating issue more severe when you turn on the AC because you're adding extra pressure on the engine to work harder.

However, your overheating might have been started before dealing with the AC system, and you did not realize it.

The cooling system consists of many components, and many of these components might be causing the issue. Therefore, if your engine overheating trouble is related to the cooling system, you only can look in detail and confirm what is causing the nation.

For instance, it could be helpful at home or probably could be an issue with the thermostat.

5-    Defection in the coolant sensor

Your vehicle contains a lot of sensors, and these sensors are responsible for monitoring certain behaviors and characteristics to communicate with the computer of your vehicle and trigger some actions to resolve the problems.

The coolant sensor is responsible for telling your computer that your engine is getting close to the maximum temperature, and your vehicle must send some coolant to cool the engine down. If the sensor is not working properly, your engine's computer will never know that coolant needs to be sent. Therefore, you'll be dealing with engine overheating.

Again, defection in the coolant sensor might not necessarily have to do anything with turning on the AC system. However, you probably notice the engine overheating because you're sending extra pressure to the engine and making it work harder.

Car overheats when the AC is on ultimate solutions

Since engine overheating leads to major complications that might cost you thousands of dollars, if not the entire engine, it is critical to understand what solutions you should implement to deal with the problem as early as possible to prevent major repair costs.

Automotive experts always say that if you detect a problem early, it helps you resolve the issue without installing major components. Therefore, solving the issue will be much easier than waiting a long time on these symptoms until you see sudden breakdowns.

When your car overheats when the AC is on, try these following solutions:

1-    Perform radiator cleanup

If you confirm that the problem with your car overheating has to do with the AC system, start by cleaning up the radiator. As indicated before, the radiator might have some debris or contaminants collected over time of use. However, a quick cleanup should resolve the issue and have your vehicle work just fine without installing major components.

2-    Consider and air pressure gauge

Many experts recommend installing an air pressure gauge that helps you inspect and monitor the airflow between the radiator and the other components. This way, you'll detect the problem as early as possible before dealing with major radiator breakdowns, and therefore you don't have to worry about high repair costs.

3-    Check if it's the time for coolant flush

Depending on how long your coolant has been sitting in your car, it might be time to flush the coolant. Coolant is the fluid responsible for running around the engine and bringing its temperature down. When the coolant approaches the end of its lifetime, it might not work as efficiently as before, and that's why you'll need to follow with segmented in your vehicle's owner’s manual and flushed the coolant to have your vehicle work better and prevent engine overheating.

4-    Replace the coolant

If the coolant has been sitting in your vehicle for about two years or probably 40,000 kilometers, you might want to consider replacing the school because it might not work as efficiently as before.

Keep in mind that this threshold might differ depending on what is specified in your vehicle's owner’s manual, and that's why we recommend that you read in the manual or consult your mechanics to get an accurate recommendation about whether it's the right time now to replace the coolant or not.

5-    Check if your radiator is dry

In some instances, your radiator might be extremely dry, and that's why some experts recommend pouring some water on the radiator to have it work better than before. However, you don't want to use tap water because it might contain some debris or contaminants that won't make things worse, and therefore, you will want to consider distilled water instead.

Remember that engine overheating might be linked to other troubles in your vehicle and not necessarily the AC system. Even if it looks like your car overheats when you turn the AC system, the issue might also be linked to other major components in your cooling system. Therefore, we recommend that you consult your mechanic and confirm what other components need to be seen to resolve the issue and prevent future major breakdowns completely.


Engine overheating is one of the most serious problems that your vehicle might face. Unfortunately, engine overheating might be linked to a long list of faulty components. Therefore, knowing other symptoms helps you determine the real culprit and narrow down the list of potential faulty elements.

When your car overheats when the AC is on, your problem is most likely related to a bad compressor, radiator, cooling system, cooling fan, or coolant sensor. Despite the cause of the problem, you should take care of it immediately before dealing with sudden breakdowns.

If your engine overheating problem led to engine breakdowns, it's not the end of the world because you can still sell your vehicle and use its money to buy a better car. Private buyers might not be interested in purchasing vehicles with major breakdowns, and that's why we recommend that you reach out to cash cars buyer who guarantees to buy your car!

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