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How to Buy a Good Quality A/C Compressor

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Drivers have been enjoying the benefits of cool air comfort inside their vehicles since the late 1930s, when the Packard Motor Car Company introduced the former luxury feature as an option in consumer vehicles. Today, we view going without A/C in the car as an unbearable burden, and one that we want to rectify as quickly as possible.

The A/C compressor works by compressing refrigerant to be distributed throughout the air conditioning system. When your car’s A/C isn’t functioning properly it’s almost always one of two issues – low refrigerant (usually due to a leak) or a bad compressor. If you’ve checked the refrigerant level and it’s sufficient, the problem is almost surely the compressor.

A/C compressors may experience external failure or internal failure. External failure happens as a result of a malfunctioning clutch or pulley, or a refrigerant leak. This is the easier type of problem to fix. Internal failure can be detected by the presence of metal bits or flakes around the compressor. This type of damage can spread throughout the entire cooling system. In the event of internal failure it’s usually cheaper to replace the whole compressor.

How to make sure you’re getting a good quality A/C compressor:

  • Stick with new. While this part can be rebuilt, quality is very difficult to determine and can be spotty depending on the rebuilder.

  • Decide on aftermarket or OEM (original equipment manufacturer). Aftermarket parts can be high quality but they tend to bring down the vehicle’s value. With OEM you’re paying more but you know you’re getting a part that fits.

  • If you do opt for aftermarket, ask to see the part receipt and inspect the part. Make sure there aren’t any worn or rusty areas and that the part matches the receipt.

Replacing the A/C compressor itself is not a difficult job, however all of the seals must be placed with extreme accuracy, allowing no dust or particles into the gaps. This is typically a job better done by a seasoned expert.

YourMechanic supplies top-quality A/C compressors to our certified mobile technicians. We can also install an A/C compressor that you've purchased. Click here to get a quote and more information on A/C compressor replacement..

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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A recovery of the AC refrigerant will ensure the system is not leaking. During a performance test if the compressor clutch is engaging, and the gauge readings are not moving, this would indicate a possible AC compressor failure. One thing...

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To turn on the air conditioning, press the A/C button on the climate controls. The air conditioning will only come on if fan is on, the temperature is not below freezing, and the AUTO button has not been pressed.

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This has come up often on this vehicle. The noise typically comes from the AC compressor clutch. When the AC is turned on the clutch should engage tightly and spin with the AC compressor pulley. The clutch tends to make...