4 Symptoms of a Bad Car AC Compressor and Replacement Cost

Last Updated on June 24, 2019 by themechanic

Every modern vehicle has an air conditioning system in it. When you switch the air control to “cool” on the dashboard, there is refrigerant fluid within the system which flows and circulates. This is how the air turns cool before it blows out of the air vents. The refrigerant requires a certain amount of pressure in order to consistently flow. This pressure is generated by a component called an AC compressor, which stands for air conditioning compressor. Once it creates the necessary pressure, the refrigerant is pushed so that it can circulate throughout the air conditioning system.

Most of us take the air conditioning system in our car for granted. It is so easy to just turn the control dial to the blue side and wait for the cool air to come out of the vents. But there is a lot of components of the air conditioning system which are under stress when this happens, especially the AC compressor. Every time you turn on the air conditioner, the AC compressor is immediately put under stress.

After a couple of years of turning the air conditioner on and off, the AC compressor will eventually wear out. This means it will no longer be able to circulate the refrigerant fluid in the system. That is why so many air conditioners in vehicles tend to stop working after some years go by. A lot of people neglect to get them fixed because they figure the air conditioner is more of a luxury rather than a necessity. But if you don’t want to suffer inside of a hot vehicle, then you’ll want to replace your AC compressor immediately.

4 Bad Symptoms

Below are the top 4 symptoms of a bad AC compressor.

1) No Cool Air – The main symptom of a bad AC compressor is no cool air coming out of the air vents. Although there may be other problems with the air conditioner that’ll cause this to happen, a bad AC compressor is the most common reason. If the refrigerant cannot flow, then the air cannot be cooled. Replace the compressor to fix this problem.

2) Weird Sounds – When you turn on your air conditioner, does it make a lot of weird sounds? Perhaps the sounds get worse as you turn the control dial to the coldest setting. If this is what happens, then your AC compressor is likely going bad. Its internal bearings are probably wearing out or possibly even damaged. You’ll need to replace the entire compressor to remedy this problem.

3) Fluid Leak – The purpose of the internal bearings of the AC compressor is to keep the refrigerant fluid contained while it gets pressurized. However, the refrigerant fluid can easily leak out of the bearings if they are damaged or start wearing out. Without refrigerant fluid to circulate in the system, things will heat up fast in the car. Check around the car to see if the liquid is leaking out.

4) Stuck Clutch – The engine is what actually helps power the AC compressor. There is a pulley which links the engine to the clutch of the AC compressor. As the engine runs, the compressor is powered mechanically. Sometimes the AC compressor’s clutch can seize up and get stuck if it is old or worn out. If that were to happen, then it can’t take the engine power and use it to power the compressor.

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Replacement Cost

If you want to replace your AC compressor, it will cost you anywhere from $700 to $1,050. The parts costs will be anywhere from $500 to $800, while the labor cost is between $200 and $250. Don’t forget about the added taxes and fees that get charged on top of the regular price. As you can see, this is not exactly a cheap replacement job. But it is necessary if you want to feel comfortable again in your vehicle.

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