Car AC Compressor Symptoms (9 Things To Be Aware Of)

In the heat of the summer, an air conditioner may be the only thing that can make driving enjoyable.

However, things might still go wrong despite your best efforts to keep up with maintenance because of your AC’s compressor. Here’s what we found about AC compressors!

Car AC Compressor Symptoms

1. Stuck Compressor Clutch

One of the symptoms of a failing AC compressor may be a stuck compressor clutch.

Generally, the compressor is powered by the compressor clutch, which connects it to the engine through a pulley and belt.

Simply put, the compressor clutch is responsible for transferring power from your car’s engine to the compressor on the AC system.

However, problems with the compressor can cause the compressor clutch to become stuck. Therefore, this can be indicative of a bad AC compressor.

2. Noises From The AC System

Noises coming from the AC system can be a symptom of a bad AC compressor.

Normally, bearings and other parts of the compressor come into contact with each other when the compressor clutch is engaged.

However, these components can become worn and unlubricated over time, resulting in audible grinding noises whenever your AC is running.

As a result, your AC compressor will start to break down and need repairs or replacement.

3. Air Isn’t Cool

One of the most obvious symptoms of a bad AC compressor is that the air in the cabin isn’t cool despite having your AC set to a low temperature.

With that, a hose is connected to the compressor, and this is where cooled air passes to get to the cabin.

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Sometimes, the feed can break or come loose; however, if the feeds are properly connected and cool air isn’t coming through, it’s likely due to a faulty AC compressor.

Therefore, if your car shows that your AC should be on, by a small light on the AC button, but you don’t notice a temperature change, this may indicate that your compressor is broken.

4. Refrigerant Leaks

In addition to my point above, refrigerant leaks may be a sign of a bad AC compressor.

Typically, the compressor pushes refrigerant through pipes into the condenser; this serves as the mechanism by which air is cooled.

However, when one of the pipes starts leaking refrigerant, this can result in the whole AC system losing pressure.

Then, a sensor shuts the compressor down to prevent it from incurring damage. Also, over-compression of the refrigerant may occur, which can cause the seals to burst.

All in all, these issues point towards a problem with the AC compressor.

5. Burnt Rubber Smell From The Engine

Burnt Rubber Smell From The Engine

The smell of burning rubber can also indicate problems with the AC compressor.

When you turn on the AC and smell burning rubber from the engine, this could mean that the AC compressor has seized, and the serpentine belt may not spin on the compressor pulley.

As such, this may be a sign of a faulty AC compressor.

6. Worn-Out Auxiliary Drive Belt

A worn auxiliary drive belt may also point toward a faulty AC compressor.

With that, contact from the compressor pulley may cause the auxiliary drive belt to wear down over time.

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Additionally, excessive movement of the pulley may cause the auxiliary drive belt to snap or come off altogether. Thus, these things may be due to a bad AC compressor.

7. Broken Suction Lines

Another symptom of a bad AC compressor is a blocked suction line.

Generally, the suction line carries refrigerant gas from the evaporator into the compressor, which then forces the gas and a small amount of lubricant into the condenser.

However, if the compressor fails to function, the refrigerant line in the AC system may become blocked.

As a result, blockages in the suction line may indicate problems with the AC compressor.

8. Condenser Tripping The Circuit

One of the signs of a faulty air conditioning compressor is that the exterior condensing unit frequently trips the circuit and loses power.

Normally, the condenser can accept and process refrigerant from the compressor without any issues.

However, the circuit breaker may be tripped because of the compressor overheating and consuming too much electricity. As such, this is indicative of a faulty AC compressor.

9. Damaged Wiring

Damage to the wires in the AC system may also be a symptom of a failing AC compressor.

Normally, the wires conduct and provide the electricity needed to power the parts of your car, and the AC system is no different.

In a similar vein, wiring also provides electric power to the compressor so that it’s able to pressurize and move refrigerant from the evaporator to the condenser.

However, when the compressor overheats and uses up too much electricity, this can lead to the wires overheating and burning out. Therefore, this may be a sign of a faulty AC compressor.

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To know more, you can also read our posts on why your transmission shifts hard from first to second, why your car interest rate is so high, and why your car battery keeps on dying


There are several things to watch out for if you suspect your AC compressor is malfunctioning; these include insufficient cooling and noises coming from the AC system.

Additionally, a bad compressor can affect and cause damage to other parts of your car’s AC system.

Therefore, it’s best to get this checked by your mechanic to deal with the problem.

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