Can I drive my car with a broken AC compressor?

Yes, even with a broken AC (Air Conditioner) compressor you can continue to drive your car. There are still some steps to take so there is no further damage to your AC system. Damaging your vehicle’s AC system Is expensive, so be sure to follow these steps to cut costs at the mechanic.

How much does it cost to replace a broken AC compressor?

Replacing a broken AC compressor can range between $250 to $1500 depending on the vehicle you drive and if you’re completing the repair at home or have a mechanic replace the part.

Is my AC compressor actually broken?

I know it’s summer, and it is hot both in and out of your car. This may have not occurred to you yet, but maybe just maybe your AC compressor is okay. Let’s go through a checklist before we replace expensive parts.

Things to check to confirm a broken AC compressor:

Check your vehicles fan:

Does your fan work? When you set the fan speed can you feel the air coming from the vents?

If you do not feel air coming from the vents then your AC Compressor could be okay. Instead of a broken AC compressor, you may only be facing a broken blower motor, blown blower motor fuse, or a faulty blower motor switch.

Check your vehicles temperature selector:

With the vehicle’s blower motor in the medium/high setting, turn the temperature selector to heat mode. Can you feel hot air coming from the vents?

With hot air coming from the vents confirmed, place the temperature selector back to cooling mode. Did the hot air stop come from the vents?

If one, or both of these steps are not working then you could only be dealing with broken temperature blending doors. Another reason for the temperature selector not working is a faulty temperature selector itself.

Check your fuses:

Look up your vehicle’s year, make, and model. Find the section in the service manual for fuses. Locate the vehicle’s fuse panel either inside or outside the car. Some cars come with up to 4 fuse panels, so make sure you find the panel that houses the AC systems fuses.

There will be multiple fuses associated with a vehicle’s AC system. Make sure to check them all!

Check AC compressor ground:

Like any electric motor, it will have a ground that comes off the motor’s housing. Find the ground cable and make sure the connections are free from corrosion and are nice and snug.

A bad ground to any electrical device will cause major issues – most of the time leading to components not working. Once the ground has been fixed, the electrical component/motor will work again.

Check the AC compressor clutch:

Your vehicle’s AC compressor clutch is connected to the AC compressor itself. When the car’s AC system is in the off position, the compressor clutch will disengage allowing the belt to spin freely without spinning the compressor.

If the compressor clutch is not working then it will not engage when it receives a cooling call from your AC switch on your dash. Either, the AC switch is not working, or the AC compressor clutch itself is not working.

How can I drive a vehicle with a broken AC Compressor?

Now that you have confirmed your AC compressor is the component that is at fault. The only necessary step to take now is to confirm your AC clutch is not engaged.

How can I check if my AC compressor clutch is engaged?

Make sure the AC switch on the dash is in an off position. Open the hood of the vehicle and watch the accessory belt spin. If the compressor is in a locked state with the AC clutch engaged, it will make at the very least a loud noise.

You can also watch to see if the belt is slipping on the compressor pulley. In most cases when a belt is slipping on a pulley, it will begin to heat up and you make smell a weird noise or see smoke.

Another way to confirm your AC clutch is not engaged is to remove the belt completely from the vehicle. Once the bolt is removed you can check to see if the AC pulley spins freely. If it does not spin freely then both your AC compressor and your AC compressor clutch are not working.

I do not recommend driving the vehicle at this point, it will be better to either repair the vehicle yourself or send the car to an automotive shop for repair.

Why cant I drive with a locked compressor and AC clutch?

With the engine’s belt spinning at an extremely fast rate while slipping on the AC pulley, It will begin to heat up the belt. It will not take long to completely fatigue the belt, and not long after this, the belt will break.

This will leave you stranded on the side of the road.

Do I need to replace other parts when I replace my vehicle’s AC compressor?

Yes, when replacing a vehicle’s AC compressor, it will require you to switch the AC lines to the new compressor. Any time you introduce air to your refrigerant lines, they will become contaminated both by sediment, and moisture. Alongside containments to a refrigerant cycle, you will have to remove all air.

You will also need to replace the vehicle’s filter dyer. Any time the filter dryer is introduced to moisture it must be replaced. If this part is not replaced it can re-introduce moisture to the system.

How does moisture affect an AC system?

Moisture in a refrigeration cycle will be non-condensable. Meaning the moisture will become a restriction within the refrigeration cycle. This will likely hurt the vehicle’s cooling capacity or render it ineffective.

How can I remove contaminants from my car’s AC lines?

By far the easiest way to remove all contaminants from AC lines and the system is to pull a deep vacuum. A vacuum pump can be rented from your local hardware/automotive parts store to accomplish this.

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