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How To Tell If Your Car Has a Bad AC Compressor?

How To Tell If Your Car Has a Bad AC Compressor?

If you're wondering, “how to tell if your car has a bad AC compressor?” Look for these symptoms:

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


  1. Increased cabin temperature
  2. Weird loud compressor noises
  3. Moisture leakage
  4. Issues with the compressor clutch
  5. Problems with the circuit breaker
  6. Damage is in the suction line
  7. Troubles in the wires

In any vehicle equipped with a combustion system, a cooling system is responsible for maintaining the engine temperature within a specific range. As part of the cooling system, the compressor is the core component that sucks any excess temperature and continuously cools down to maintain the engine separator.

While the compressor is a durable component, it gets to a point where it requires replacement. In other words, the compressor is not designed to last forever, and you'll have to check on its test between now and then to confirm that it's in good condition.

There is a specific lifespan for the compressor. Still, it might fail prematurely, and that's where you as a driver have to monitor for any symptoms indicating a bad AC compressor.

This article walks you through the top seven reported problems that help answer the question, “how to tell if your car has a bad AC compressor?” We also provide you with some rough estimates for replacement costs and some other details that could help you extend the lifetime of your AC compressor.


AC Compressor

What is the AC compressor, and what is it doing?

Before we dive into the details about the mean symptoms of that AC compressor, we must understand the main role in the cooling system.

As we mentioned before, the AC compressor is a big component in the cooling system, and when it goes bad, it leads to all sorts of problems that your vehicle might face that could damage the engine.

During the cooling process, a specific fluid runs around the engine to suck its temperature and cool it down. Over time, this coolant gets hot, and it gets to a point where it cannot cool down the engine anymore. That's where the role of the AC compressor comes in. As the coolant goes through the AC compressor, it cools down again and becomes ready for cooling down the engine one more time for the next cycle.

How long does the AC compressor last?

The AC compressor is a durable material, and it's expected to last between 12 to 15 years which is a pretty good amount of time when it comes to car repairs. However, this does not guarantee that you won't deal with major AC compressor complications prematurely. That's why you got to keep an eye for any symptoms that could help you detect the problem as early as possible.

How to tell if your car has a bad AC compressor?

As we mentioned, the AC compressor might go bad before the expected lifespan. This suggests that you have to maintain close attention to any symptoms indicating a bad AC compressor.

The good news is that automotive experts put together a list of potential causes for this issue to help you answer the question, “how to tell if your car has a bad AC compressor?”

1-    Increased cabin temperature

The first and most common sentence that could help you confirm an issue with the AC compressor is when you notice that the cabin separator is very high. In other words, have you ever tried turning on the AC system and realizing that the cabin is very hot? That's what we're talking about.

If the AC system doesn't work properly or if it's blowing warm air, the problem could be related to three main issues: a low coolant level, coolant leak, and a bad compressor.

Therefore, you immediately replace the compressor whenever you notice that the AC system is not working properly. Next, you must consult your mechanic and have him perform after inspecting the different components to confirm what's causing the issue.

2-    Weird loud compressor noises

As a rule of thumb, you must take it seriously whenever you notice loud noises coming from your vehicle. These noises are ways for your car to communicate with you and bring your attention to internal issues.

Ignoring any noises can easily lead to major complications that could cost you thousands of dollars, even if the problem is minor.

One of the very common symptoms that could indicate a bad AC compressor is when you hear some weird loud noises whenever the compressor is working. For example, if you've ever turned on the heating, air conditioning, or ventilation, you'll notice this noise getting louder or kicking off.

Here, some of the internal components within the converter might be failing, including the small bearings that could start making these loud noises. The best solution for this problem is to consult your mechanic and check with him if he can fix the faulty component within the compressor before replacing it so you can see it on parts costs. However, there are many occasions where problems are beyond repair, and you'll have to replace the entire compressor.

AC Compressor Care

3-    Moisture leakage

Coolant leak is another common problem indicating that the compressor is not working properly. Of course, coolant leaks can happen due to various other issues, but one of them could be a bad AC compressor.

Therefore, you must keep an eye on your vehicle and check for any signs of puddles or fluids underneath the car. Sometimes the leaks might be minor where it does not necessarily reach the floor as it evaporates when it touches the hot surfaces around your vehicle.

Whatever you find should be taken seriously. Although these leaks are minor or very major, the earlier you detect them, the easier the solutions are and the lower the repair costs.

4-    Issues with the compressor clutch

The AC compressor contains a specific clutch, one of the major components inside this compressor. It is connected somehow to the engine that allows it to turn and work every time you activate it.

Overtime reviews, this clutch might get damaged, and that could be another symptom indicating that the AC compressor is about to fail or is already failed.

AC Compressor Clutch

5-    Problems with the circuit breaker

A bad compressor might also cause continuous breakage in your circuit. For example, check out the air compressor if you notice that your vehicle keeps losing power and the circuit has issues.

6-    Damage is in the suction line

A bad AC compressor might also damage the suction line where the coolant runs. This leads to complications, including allowing air to flow inside the cooling system, which is a horrible problem that can easily lead to significant damage. Therefore, if you suspect that you're dealing with a broken or damaged suction line, check out with your mechanic and have him look to confirm what's going on and fix the bad issue.

7-    Troubles in the wires

Finally, when the AC compressor goes bad, it can also damage the wire connections, and unfortunately, it's not something that you can check on your own because there are chances of hazardous risks. Thus, the best thing is to have your mechanic confirm the issue and fix the faulty wires and replace the bad easy compressor before the problem gets more complicated and impacts other components.

AC Compressor Replacement Price

How much does it cost to fix a bad AC compressor?

Unfortunately, fixing a bad AC compressor is not cheap, and it should cost you somewhere between $812 and 1041 dollars. This includes both labor and parts costs.

Keep in mind that this price might climb more, especially if you're driving a luxury car. But also it can be a little bit cheaper if you decide to go to a small independent shop where you don't have to worry much about labor costs.

Overall, fixing about AC compressor is considered one of the major car repairs, and that's why we highly encourage you to evaluate the situation closely before we spend a penny. In other words, if your car has other major problems, you'll have to calculate a total repair cost and compare it to your vehicle's value. If fixing these problems will not improve the value of their cars or at least maintain it, that means we should get rid of the vehicle rather than wasting your money.

Air Suspension Compressor Replacement

How to extend the lifetime of your car's AC compressor?

The best thing to avoid problems is to learn about some of the recommendations from automotive experts about extending the lifetime of your AC compressor. Let's take a closer look at some of these recommendations:

1-    Make your vehicles owner’s manual your friend

The biggest and most important advice that we would like to give you is to watch your vehicle's owner’s manual. This advice also applies to any vehicle components because the manual has all the details you need to know about taking care of your car.

This manual should have detailed information about when to check on the AC compressor, and what to do so you can maintain it and prevent sudden damage.

2-    Monitor for any symptoms indicating a bad AC compressor

The other thing you need to do is not rely only on the AC compressor's expected lifetime. As we mentioned before, this part might fail prematurely. The earlier you detect the problem, the easier it is for you to resolve it without needing to hire a professional or at least without needing to install a new component.

3-    Consider original components

Many of us might think of saving money on replacement costs by purchasing third-party components. However, that is not always a good idea, especially for sensitive components like the AC compressor.

Therefore, we would like to give you another piece of advice. When you have to replace no components including the AC compressor, consider reaching out to a professional who has access to original components designed specifically for your vehicle slack. This way, you confirm compatibility and avoid the risks of damaging other components that are not compatible with a third-party component.

Will A Bad AC Compressor Affect The Engine

Final thoughts

The AC compressor is a significant component in your vehicle, and some people might think it's only related to the AC system. However, it is a significant factor in your vehicle's cooling system. Without a good running AC compressor, you can easily deal with significant complications that could damage your engine.

This article provides you with a detailed summary of the top reported symptoms to help you answer the question, “how to tell if your car has a bad AC compressor?” Of course, you must monitor these symptoms and take your vehicle to the nearest repair shop immediately whenever you confirm it's a bad AC Compressor.

However, if labor and repair costs get to a point where it's not worth it, it's a good time to evaluate whether you want to sell your vehicle or keep it. Of course, if you're looking to sell a vehicle with major complications, including those related to the AC compressors and others, you can always reach out to cash cars buyer!

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