Can You Still Drive Your Car With A Faulty A/C Compressor?


An A/C compressor is the heart of your car’s air conditioning system as it pumps refrigerant to and from the evaporator, condenser, and receiver-drier. The A/C compressor is found on the front part of the car and is operated by an engine-accessory belt. It acts as the power unit by making the refrigerant under high pressure and transferring this effect to the condenser.

The A/C compressor thus ensures that the refrigerant is put under the appropriate pressure so that it can change from a gas to a liquid. This eventually results in the A/C system functioning well and continuously blowing out cold air. If you are a driver and wondering if you can still drive your car with a faulty A/C compressor, the short answer is yes, you still can drive your car as the A/C compressor may have minimal to no bearing on your automobile’s performance.

However, do note that if you still choose to drive with a faulty A/C compressor, there may be minimal to no cool air circulating resulting in an uncomfortable cabin temperature for your passengers and you.

Symptoms of a Faulty A/C Compressor

An A/C compressor is continuously working even when the A/C system is off and is thus highly susceptible to wear and tear. It can be damaged and break down over time, thus requiring an A/C compressor replacement. Here are some of the symptoms of a faulty A/C compressor.

  • Loud or Unusual Noises

If the A/C compressor is constantly making loud or unusual noises especially when the A/C compressor is turned on, it is an indication of a faulty A/C compressor. This is because the A/C compressor has a very complex system that relies on numerous internal gears and parts in a specific arrangement.

When the gears, accessory belts, or internal parts fail or are damaged, they will produce noises. For example, a damaged or leaked bearing will produce a high-pitched squealing noise or a grinding noise.

  • Compressor Clutch Not Working

If the clutch is unable to work or move, it is another indication of a faulty compressor. This is because the A/C compressor system relies on the movements of the compressor clutch, whereby it engages and disengages to turn the compressor on or off as required. 

  • Leakage of Fluid

If there is fluid leaking from your vehicle, it may be an indication that the internal bearings of the A/C compressor are damaged. This is another sign that indicates that there is something wrong with the compressor as the compressor’s internal bearings are designed to prevent any fluid leakage while pressurizing the refrigerant in the engine.

Diagnosing the A/C Compressor

You should also run a series of tests to diagnose the root issue of the A/C compressor. Here are some of the ways you can do so.

  • Visual inspection of A/C Compressor

Check the A/C compressor for any damage, rust, leakage, or anything that may harm the compressor. For example, a lack of oil in the compressor may result in it being prematurely worn and torn due to the increased friction. You should also do a visual inspection of the compressor clutch which is located at the front of the compressor, ensuring that it can rotate and move freely within the compressor system.

  • Check Temperature Fluctuation

You should also power on the A/C system and monitor for any temperature fluctuations or if there is hot air blowing out from your A/C vents. You can also turn on your A/C to the coolest setting and listen for any irregular noises coming from the compressor.