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Car Air Con Compressor Issues & How To Solve Them

There’s nothing worse than turning on your car air con on a blistering hot day to find that it’s not blowing cool air.

You’ll want to get your car air con compressor fixed as soon as possible.

How To Diagnose A Car Air Con Compressor Issue

When there’s something wrong with your car air con, but you aren’t sure what, the easiest place to start is by checking if the car air con compressor is working.

What Does The Car Air Con Compressor Do?

The car air con compressor is typically attached to the engine block and driven by a belt. The refrigerant is compressed by the compressor and passed to the condenser under high pressure, where it is then turned into a liquid.

When the refrigerant liquid reaches the evaporator it is converted back to a gas, absorbing high quantities of heat from the air blown into the car. The cooled, dehumidified air is the cooling that you should experience when the air conditioner is running correctly.

What Happens When The Car Air Con Compressor Fails?

When the refrigerant gas doesn’t get compressed at the air con compressor, the condenser can’t do its job of turning the gas into a liquid. Inside the car, you’ll notice that the air isn’t blowing as cool as it should.

When the car air con compressor fails, it can send debris throughout the car’s air conditioning system, resulting in potentially expensive repairs. Diagnosing an air con compressor issue and getting it fixed early can minimise the outlay to get your car air con working again.

Here are the steps to take to determine if your car air con compressor needs replacing:

4 Steps To Diagnose A Car Air Con Compressor Problem:

Step 1: With the engine running, turn on the A/C onto high. 

This will cause the car air con to start up, activating the air con compressor.

The car air con compressor will suck refrigerant in from the evaporator under low pressure, compress the refrigerant and forward it to the condenser under high temperature and high pressure.

Step 2: Listen for any unusual noises.

Unusual noises can arise in a number of ways, so check the following before concluding that you need a new car air con compressor.

  • Check the clamps and fixing points for breaks, cracks and any missing nuts or bolts.
  • Check the hoses and lines to determine if vibrations from the engine are being transmitted to the cabin. Hold each line with one hand to see if it eliminates the suspicious noise.
  • The car air con compressor is driven by a belt. If the belt, clamping device, tensioner pulleys, or clutch are worn, they could cause unusual noises.

If none of these are causing the unusual noise, it’s best to get the vehicle checked out by a Natrad technician. The noise could be caused by excessive high pressure in the system or contamination of the air conditioner refrigerant. These issues need to be diagnosed by a licensed air con technician.

Step 3: Check to see if cool air comes from the air vents.

If there isn’t cool air coming from the vents, there are a few checks you can start with to rule out a compressor issue:

  • Check that the cooling fans are running when the air conditioner is on.
  • Make sure the cabin air filter isn’t clogged.
  • Ensure there isn’t a build-up of leaves, bugs, or dirt preventing airflow through the condenser.

Step 4: Check for a visible leak under the car.

mechanic checking for aircon compressor issues

If you do have a leak or you rule out the above possible issues, you’ll need to take your vehicle to a licensed repair technician who will test the system to diagnose the problem.

Get A Free Air Con System Check

If you get to the end of these checks and your air con still isn’t working, it’s time to get a licensed technician to check the system.

Whether your car air con system has a leak, needs a replacement car air con compressor, or other replacement parts, our licensed ARCtick technicians can safely remove the refrigerant from your vehicle to perform repairs, before regassing your car air con system.

If the technician finds a problem and you proceed with repairs, mention this article to receive 10% off parts fitted to your car.