Understanding Car A/C Compressor Clutch Bearing Failures

Understanding Car A/C Compressor Clutch Bearing Failures

You switch on your car and the A/C, but then your ears are attacked by an extremely loud noise that won’t stop. You read online that the noise is caused by the clutch bearing, and that you can get rid of the noise by replacing the bearing. But this is not actually the root of your problem – in due time, the noise will return louder than ever.

Car A/C compressor clutch bearing failures are usually caused by a problem with the A/C system, not just the bearing itself. Replacing the noisy bearing is just a temporary solution for you, which would actually lead to premature damage of a new component, and end up wasting your time and money. So what exactly do you need to know to be able to fix the problem once and for all? For this, you need a better understanding of your car A/C compressor clutch bearing, so that you can find out why it fails and how to stop it.

The Biggest Culprits: High Temperatures And Dryness

Just like you would have issues surviving in a desert for long periods of time in unbearable heat and without enough water, so does your car A/C compressor need optimal conditions to be able to last. Excessively high temperatures and lack of lubrication can easily bring your compressor bearings down. Slipping compressor clutches can generate temperatures going up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit! With such a tremendous amount of heat, the bearing seal can quickly get melted down, and more. In this situation, the bearing loses its grease and starts to get rough and noisy before it locks up completely.

Issues Leading To The Above Conditions

There are several factors that could cause excessive heat build up in the A/C system, all with the potential to damage a compressor pulley bearing, or locking up the whole compressor.

One common situation is a leaking air conditioning system. The refrigerant will leak out, as well as the oil that is inside the compressor. This lack of lubrication creates a huge amount of frictional resistance between the compressor piston and the cylinder. The friction causes an internal compressor temperature to rise.

High temperatures can also be caused by overcharged, or improperly vacuumed car A/C systems. This creates high pressures within the A/C system, which leads to high internal temperatures. Aside from this, an excessive air gap between the compressor pressure plate and the rotor pulley would also cause slippage and increased temperatures.

One more thing to note is the bearing grease might be contaminated. If there is a leak in the compressor, the compressor oil might contaminate the bearing grease, eventually leading to internal bearing failure.

Should you find the need to replace your compressor, you can purchase a compressor kit from our car A/C systems online shop in the model that you require. Alternatively, if you need a professional to take a look at your compressor for you and figure out what is going wrong, just give R & Y A/C Compressors a call and we’ll get it sorted for you.