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Is It Time for A New AC Compressor? Symptoms, Causes, and Solutions

Is It Time for A New AC Compressor? Symptoms, Causes, and Solutions

If you're wondering, “is it time for a new AC compressor,” Look for these 7 symptoms:

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  1. Very high cabin temperature
  2. Weird loud noises when turning on the compressor
  3. Fluid leaks
  4. Faulty compressor clutch
  5. Tripping circuit breaker
  6. Damaged suction line
  7. Broken wires

You might not be very familiar with many components in your vehicle, like the AC compressor. The compressor is a core component in your AC system and when it fails, it turns your driving experience into a nightmare, especially if you drive continuously in hot environments and consider the upcoming summer season.

This article provides you with all you need to know to help you answer the question, “is it time for a new AC compressor?” It walks you through the main symptoms of a bad AC compressor, with different causes that could make the compressor go bad prematurely, and the potential solutions and repair costs for replacing the AC compressor.

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What is the AC compressor, and what does it do?

The AC compressor is a core component in your cooling system in the vehicle. It is responsible for compressing the refrigerant and allowing it to circulate through your vehicle's designated paths.


When the AC compressor goes bad, you don't have a working AC system. This will affect the temperature of the vehicle's interior and some other components that require or get involved with the AC system.

The good thing is that the AC compressor is a very durable component in your vehicle, and it's expected to last between 12 and 15 years, which is a pretty good timeline for car repairs.

However, there are some instances where the AC compressor might go bad prematurely. When this happens, you got to take care of this component and replace it immediately to prevent other complications that could cost you lots of money.

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Is it time for a new AC compressor? 7 symptoms

As we mentioned earlier, the AC compressor is expected to last for quite a good time. However, it might go bad prematurely and before it hits the 12 years. Therefore, it is essential for you as a driver to familiarize yourself with the different symptoms indicating a bad or failing AC system.

Take a look at these seven symptoms to help yourself answer the question, “is it time for a new AC compressor?”

1.    Very high cabin temperature

The most common symptoms of a bad AC compressor are when the cabin temperature is reading very high. Typically, the AC system needs to work so you can receive this cool breeze coming out of the vent spots. When the AC compressor is not working, that will not happen.

Therefore, consider checking the AC compressor if your AC system does not blow cold air and if the cabin temperature is very high. However, keep in mind that the same problem might also be linked to some other culprits, which means you cannot immediately replace the AC compressor, assuming that it's always a bad AC compressor.

Your mechanic needs to do a thorough inspection to confirm the faulty component. It could be the AC compressor, it could be some other components, and it could be a combination of multiple components.

2.    Weird loud noises when turning on the compressor

As a rule of thumb, automotive experts always recommend never ignoring any weird noises coming from your vehicle. Whether these noises are loud or not could indicate a serious internal issue.

The same rule applies to a bad AC compressor. It comes out when you notice that the AC compressor is making weird loud noises every time it's turned on. It could be a clear education of a bad AC compressor. Therefore, you must consult your mechanic and let him know what's going on. Your mechanic should understand why the snow is coming and what needs to be done next.

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3.    Fluid leaks

Your vehicle contains lots of fluids, and they must stay within the designated pathways to prevent problems. The refrigerant is also an important fluid, and it must not leak outside of the car because it will drop significantly and impact your vehicle's performance.

Sometimes, a bad AC compressor might cause the refrigerant to leak outside the car. When this happens; you must consult the mechanic immediately because this refrigerant is not safe, and it can be toxic and might cause certain health problems to some people with respiratory issues.

4.    Faulty compressor clutch

The compressor contains a specific clutch. This clutch is responsible for connecting and disconnecting the AC compressor from the engine. Therefore, it is the main factor determining whether energy gets to the AC compressor or not.

When there is any problem with that compressor clutch, that compressor will not work, and you'll see some problems in your AC system.

Therefore, your mechanic needs to check the clutch, and if you're lucky enough, you might be able to replace that small component without needing to install the whole thing. However, if you waited for so long on a bad AC compressor clutch, things might get more complicated, and you might need to install no AC compressor.

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5.    Tripping circuit breaker

A tripping circuit breaker might be a result of a bad AC compressor. When you notice this issue with the circuit, you must consult the mechanic and have him review what's going on in the AC compressor and replace it if needed.

6.    Damaged suction line

Also, a bad AC compressor might cause damage to other surrounding components. For example, if you perform a quick visual inspection of the suction line, you'll see that it's damaged because of a damaged AC compressor.

As we always mentioned, waiting on a certain problem in your vehicle can evolve and might impact other components. Therefore, before you get to this point and deal with damages to other components, you must fix the AC compressor immediately.

7.     Broken wires

Like the last symptom, the AC compressor might also cause some problems with the wires. Therefore, try controlling and containing the problem as soon as possible by fixing the AC compressor before damaging the whole AC system.

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

Unfortunately, replacing the AC compressor requires relatively high repair costs for car repairs. It should cost you somewhere between $1000 and $2500.

Keep in mind that this price range is just roughly, which might differ significantly depending on your vehicle's time and location where you get the job done. For example, if you're driving a luxury vehicle, the repaired costs will be much higher than someone else was driving a small sedan car here

Also, labor costs can be a huge component of replacing a bad AC compressor. For example, if you decide to go to a small independent shop, your labor costs will be lower than a big dealership. However, you have to be very careful about selecting the location to replace the AC compressor because it requires a certain skill set.

Suppose you are driving a very expensive car. In that case, it might be worth going to a dealership where you confront that the mechanics are very familiar with your vehicle type and will not introduce any mistakes.

What causes the AC compressor to go bad?

As you notice, replacing the AC compressor is an expensive repair, and that's why it's important for you as a driver to try to prevent AC compressor damage as much as possible. Pick up many preventable causes that could damage the AC compressor prematurely. Let's take a closer look below:

1.    Clogged coils

Over time abuse, your vehicle is expected to collect dust, which might impact your AC system's performance. For example, if you clean the coils around the AC components, you can easily deal with a damaged AC compressor which is a very significant repair.

2.    Insufficient refrigerant

Depending on the age of your vehicle, sometimes the path lines where the refrigerant runs might have holes and breakage. When these holes become significant, they might allow refrigerant to leak significantly, and when this happens, you deal with damages to the AC compressor.

Therefore, it is important for you as a driver to continuously inspect the AC system and have your mechanic locate any potential holes that allowed coolant to leak on the floor.

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3.    Wrong suction line size

Did you know that some car repairs might introduce other problems?! We always encourage you to go to a professional service or a dealership to get these repairs done.

If you installed the wrong suction line size for any reason, you can easily deal with damages to the AC compressor, and it can't fail very fast.

4.    Overtopping the refrigerant

Too much refrigerant is as bad as no refrigerant at all. The AC system in your vehicle is designed in a certain way that accepts a certain pressure of your refrigerant. When you overtop the refrigerant thinking that it's a better thing to do, you can easily damage the AC system and deal with failures in the AC compressor.

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5.    Issues in the electric system

The AC compressor relies significantly on the elliptic system, and there are lots of wires and connections that must work properly for the AC compressor to work just fine. However, when there is some damage to the east wires, you can easily deal with a bad AC compressor. As he mentioned earlier, this could be a potential symptom of a bad AC compressor that helps you determine whether the compressor is working just fine or not.

6.    Contaminated AC system

Finally, the AC system must be clean and clear of contaminants, debris, or other foreign objects. If that's not the case, you can easily deal with any damages to the AC system, including failures in the AC compressor.

Therefore, you must consult your mechanic and determine how to clean these things up and remove this debris or contaminants or probably plant leaves that could damage the AC compressor.

7.    Low lubrication

The AC compressor also requires a certain level of lubrication, and if that's not available, you could easily deal with these damages. However, you must keep an eye and ear for any weird noises from your AC compressor because some of these noises might be related to low or insufficient lubrication.

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Final thoughts

The AC system contains different components in your vehicle. The AC compressor is one of the most critical components that must be working perfectly to have a working AC system.

Unfortunately, the AC compressor is expected to fail at some point in time, but some other things might trigger fast in the failure of your AC system compressor. This article helps you answer the question “is time for a new AC compressor?” It provides you with all that you should look for. It also highlights the main causes and the different solutions and repair costs.

As you might notice, the AC compressor requires very high repair costs, and that's why you must evaluate the situation carefully and determine whether it's worth fixing the AC compressor or not. If you need to sell your vehicle instead of fixing it, Cash Cars Buyer is always here to help you!

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