How To Keep Your Car A/C Compressor Running Smoothly

Sometimes drivers find that when they turn on their A/C for the first time in months (usually after a hard winter), they are surprised to find it won’t start. Although modern air conditioning systems are better than ever, they are still man made machines subject to wear. This includes subcomponents such as the compressor, evaporator and condenser. Below are some tips for ensuring your car A/C compressor lasts as long as possible.

The Importance Of Lubrication

Automobile A/C systems utilize oil that is responsible for lubricating the compressor. However, during cold months, A/C compressor seals are vulnerable to damage and cracking due to the lower temperatures and inadequate lubrication. Once cracking sets in, the compressor will begin leaking oil. This is why anyone performing maintenance on their vehicle during cold months should inspect their A/C system to verify no oil is being lost. If oil leakage is present, this means the A/C seals have to be replaced and the system refilled. This is not something you want to put off either, because if so the vehicle won’t be ready when the weather turns warm.

Why Your A/C Should Be Turned On During Winter

To most drivers, it seems nonsensical to turn on their A/C systems during winter, as the weather is already cold. But doing so serves an important purpose. When the air conditioning operates it can suck moisture from the air within the cabin and then defrost the windows. It also ensures that the seals and compressor remain sufficiently lubricated so no damage is sustained.

This doesn’t mean the A/C has to run all the time during winter. Ideally, you will want to activate it every two weeks and then let it run for just ten minutes. Although this method isn’t 100 percent foolproof, it dramatically increases the chances of keeping your seals lubricated and your compressor operational until you begin using it regularly when the weather turns warm.

Additional Things To Watch For

Aside from damaged seals and oil leaks, there are two other threats that can compromise your compressor, and these are blockages and inadequate refrigerant levels. Blockages are mainly an issue with the condenser, but what affects that component will ultimately affect the compressor. Therefore the condenser should be inspected to ensure it is clear of debris or other obstructions.

Inadequate refrigerant levels are a leading cause of air conditioning problems. Once the refrigerant drops to a certain level, the A/C becomes less efficient due to the presence of too much heat. If not resolved quickly enough, the compressor itself will malfunction. Additionally, low refrigerant levels are a possible sign of system leakage that also needs to be repaired as soon as possible, but no refrigerant should be added until the leak has been found and addressed.  Compressors are also susceptible to bearing damage, which can occur due to age or a tensioner that has gone bad.