Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Why Does My AC Rattle When I Turn It On?

AC Rattling

Your car’s AC system is designed to keep you cool and comfortable when temperatures rise. It’s designed to operate quietly and unobtrusively, so there should be little to no noise from an air conditioning system that’s in good working order. However, if you hear a rattle when you turn the air conditioning on, it could be any number of different problems.

While your air conditioner is technically a separate system, it’s tied to the rest of the engine by the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is what’s responsible for turning the pulley at the AC compressor, and pressurizing the refrigerant lines. The compressor engages/disengages by an electromagnetic clutch.

If you turn on the AC and immediately hear a rattling noise, there are a few potential causes:

  • Compressor: If your AC compressor is beginning to fail, it can make a rattling noise.

  • Pulley: If the compressor pulley bearings are failing, they can make noises, generally a grinding, roaring or squealing noise.

  • Belt: If the serpentine belt is worn, it can slip when the compressor engages, causing noises.

  • Idler Pulley: It’s possible that the noise is actually from the idler pulley if its bearings are failing. The noise would start when the compressor engages due to the increased load on the engine.

  • Compressor Clutch: The compressor clutch is a high-wear item, and if it’s worn out, it can create a rattle during operation. Some vehicles can have only the clutch replaced, but some require replacement of both the clutch and compressor.

There are many other potential sources of the noise as well. When the AC turns on, it puts the entire engine under a heavier load. This increased load can cause rattles from things like the power steering pump pulley, loose parts (even a loose hood prop rod can rattle under th additional vibrations created by operating your air conditioner). If you hear a rattle in your car, have a mobile technician from YourMechanic inspect the cause of the sound.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance...
P0291OBD-II Trouble Code: Cylinder 11 Injector Circuit Low
P0291 code definition When your vehicle’s PCM registers the P0291 code, it means that a voltage reading came from the fuel injector circuit – for cylinder number 11’s fuel injector –...


Related questions

Q: Trying to stop outside air from coming into my car

The Max A/C setting should close the fresh air vents off, preventing fresh air from entering the climate control system, but there is natural ventilation built in every vehicle so it is impossible to completely seal the vehicle from outside...

Q: transmission

This could be a lack of vacuum or potentially a bad shift solenoid. Most modern transmissions operate on vacuum actuated controls and solenoids both of which commonly fail at times which will cause the lack of or intermittent shifting problem...

Q: Car wont start

Hi there. There are multiple potential issues that cause a vehicle to not crank over or fail to start. This could be a battery-related issue if the battery has low cranking amps, or a starter or starter relay issue not...