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Well, let’s start with the basics. “AC” stands for air conditioning, though I hope you already knew that. Okay, moving on.
The AC compressor clutch is a key part of some air conditioning systems. Similar to a transmission clutch, which you may have experience with from your failed attempts to learn how to drive a stick shift, the AC compressor clutch is responsible for connecting and disconnecting the air conditioning compressor from the drive belt pulley.The drive belt that powers the air conditioning system is able to stay attached to the air conditioning pulley at all times, with the AC compressor clutch determining when the compressor is actually in action.
In other words, the AC compressor clutch is responsible for making sure that the air conditioning is able to turn on when you want it on, and off when you don’t. Pretty important, yeah? Or do you like driving around in a sauna?
Many new cars don’t actually have AC compressor clutches, and instead utilize a more modern variable displacement compressor that doesn’t need a clutch. So, there’s a chance your car doesn’t have one at all.
As with many parts of your car, the AC compressor clutch can fail over time, especially due to heavy use.
Although rare, there are instances where the AC compressor clutch won’t disengage. When this happens, the A/C system pressures can build (or drop, if the system has a leak) to dangerous levels, leading to major system damage.
On the other side of things, if your AC compressor clutch is stuck such that it cannot engage the compressor at all, then you’ll be stuck with nothing but hot air blowing into your car. Spoiler: This is not fun, especially if you’re clothed. And I sure hope you’re clothed while driving.
Depending on your car, a failing AC compressor clutch (which, of course, results in a failing air conditioning system) may trigger some indicator lights. For instance, you may have an AC button that flashes a few times, as though it’s being turned on and off.Get a Quote 1-Year | 12,000-Mile Warranty
It’s perfectly safe to drive your car with a busted AC compressor clutch. As long as you’re at a safe temperature, you can drive.
But you’ll likely be miserable, and a malfunctioning AC compressor clutch can cause further problems in the AC system over time, thus making your repair more costly. So, just handle this one as soon as you can.
1-Year | 12,000-Mile Warranty