An A/C compressor clutch is as important as the compressor in delivering proper air conditioning to your automobile. The compressor clutch helps to drive the compressor by running constantly, which in turn sends the refrigerant to the evaporator for condensation. After traveling through the lines, the refrigerant is cooled by the radiator and cool air is blown through the air conditioning vents located in the passenger compartment.
The compressor clutch is thus responsible for converting energy from the engine to the pulley attached to the A/C compressor. By transferring this power and converting this energy, your car’s A/C system can start running immediately to cool the interior of the car. However, a compressor clutch that runs all the time would result in a decrease in fuel economy and also wear out the air conditioning components, as well as causing excessive training on the engine.
Although an A/C compressor clutch will remain strong and well for numerous years, there’s always the chance that it may completely fail. Here are some of the common symptoms of a bad A/C compressor clutch.
If you turn the A/C compressor on and hear loud or unusual noises, it may be an indication of a bad A/C compressor clutch. This is because the A/C compressor has various interior components and utilizes a sealed bearing to turn, thus, if any of the interior components are damaged or the internal bearings fail, then numerous unusual and loud noises can be produced.
A bearing that is leaking or worn out may create a high-pitched squealing sound while a seized bearing may create a loud grinding noise. Because the compressor clutch is a complex machine that relies on a precise arrangement of the interior components, it is usually hard to tell which component is faulty or to repair the individual components of the compressor. It is thus usually advisable to replace the entire compressor.
Compressor Clutch Not Moving
The compressor clutch enables the compressor system to disengage and engage from the engine power so that the compressor only turns off or on as needed. However, if the clutch stops moving, then this normal process is unable to continue. If the clutch breaks, the compressor is unable to receive the engine power, and if it seizes, then this results in the compressor being permanently activated.
To determine whether the clutch has stopped moving, simply look at the front of the compressor when the A/C is running to observe if the clutch is moving. Again, for this scenario, while the clutch can be repaired, replacing the entire compressor is usually the most efficient solution.
A damaged compressor clutch will also result in a damaged compressor bearing. This may result in the refrigerant leaking through the front seal due to the damaged A/C compressor clutch. By looking at the compressor, you can observe if there are any signs of liquid leaking out via the front seal.
Another obvious sign of a bad A/C compressor clutch is the A/C blowing hot air and a higher cabin temperature on days where you need the A/C. A damaged clutch causes a malfunction of the compressor system, which thus results in the refrigerant flow not being regulated. This eventually results in the A/C system being unable to cool the cabin.