Want cold air in the heat or clear windows in the rain? Then you’ll want a functioning air-conditioning compressor. It is the power unit of the air-conditioning system that puts the refrigerant under high pressure before it pumps it into the condenser, where it changes from a gas to a liquid.
Feeling warm? Don’t make assumptions. Not all air-conditioning problems are because the system is low on refrigerant. Some are caused by issues with system parts, such as the compressor.
How do I know it’s time to replace my air-conditioning compressor?
An air-conditioning compressor, usually driven by a serpentine accessory belt, sometimes squeals or squeaks before it breaks, but it also can stop working without any audible warning signs. In addition, a compressor can leak refrigerant, which will mean less cool air or none at all. A qualified technician is the best source for diagnosing if a compressor isn’t working as air-conditioning problems also can be caused by refrigerant leaks elsewhere in the system, by a slipping accessory belt or by corrosion in the air-conditioning evaporator. If there is a leak, adding refrigerant won’t solve the problem.
How often should I expect to replace my air-conditioning compressor?
Air-conditioning compressors often last the life of a vehicle, but they can fail because bearings wear out, seals leak and long-term corrosion takes its toll, plus other factors. If a compressor does need to be replaced, it should be a one-and-done fix, not something that occurs every 50,000 miles. Frequent compressor failure is probably caused by a misaligned accessory drive belt, a faulty pulley or another issue creating undue stress.
Do I have to replace my air-conditioning compressor?
If you’re lucky, the air-conditioning compressor should last the life of your car. However, if it shows any of the symptoms detailed above you may need to replace it. Air-conditioning systems are sealed circuits, and any loss of cooling ability calls for an inspection of the entire system.