Modern cars are equipped with a wide variety of features and amenities to make our journeys and driving experience more pleasant.
One basic amenity that is standard in nearly all cars today is the air conditioning system which is commonly referred to as A/C. The a/c is an absolute necessity in our rapidly warming environment, few people know that a properly functioning air conditioning system is also needed in winters so that the defogger system can work efficiently.
Nowadays, it is impossible to think of a new car that comes without an a/c since it is needed by a majority of people around the globe especially those living in the middle east or around the equator.
Car Ac Compressor Cycles On and Off
Proper understanding of the working of a car’s a/c is vital so that you can troubleshoot any common problem related to it and so it continues to work on a hot summer day.
An a/c has some components that work together to ensure that it works properly, out of all these components the compressor is undoubtedly the most important part and it won’t be wrong to say that it acts as a brain for the whole cooling system.
As evident by its name, it compresses the refrigerant and pushes it through the condenser where it is cooled down by a fan. The cold air is then passed through the evaporator and a filter and from there it is blown through the air vents to bring down the temperature of a car’s cabin.
Like any other mechanical or electrical part, the condenser is also prone to failure. However, it generally lasts several years if it is made correctly and in accordance with strict quality control measures. It is important to remember that a compressor does not work continuously even if your car’s a/c is turned on.
It works in several cycles where it turns itself on or off depending upon the temperature of your car’s interior. As obvious, on a hotter day, it has to work in longer cycles (for a longer period of time) to makes sure the cabin stays cool, it turns itself off when the desired temperature is met.
On the contrary, on cooler or less hot days the cycles are short as there is less work to do, so it turns off after a short amount of time.
Factors that Affects How Often a Car Ac Compressor Cycle
- Outside temperature – hot weather translates into longer cycles meaning the compressor will turn itself off after longer intervals.
- Insulation material used in a car – good insulation material means that less cool air will be able to leak outside the car which in turn means shorter cycles (compressor turns off in a shorter time)
- Size of a car’s cabin – a bigger cabin means longer cycles and vice versa.
- The number of occupants – every object emits heat and living objects usually emit more heat than several non-living objects. A car’s compressor will work more vigorously when more people are sitting in a car meaning it will remain in operation for a longer period of time.
- Size of the compressor – a bigger compressor has to do a lesser amount of work than a smaller one and will have shorter cycles than a compressor of a shorter size.
- Cabin filter & condenser – a clean cabin air filter and a condenser makes the task of a compressor much easier and allows it to trip itself (turns off) in shorter intervals.
The problem occurs when a car’s a/c compressor starts turning off or on even when the desired temperature hasn’t been achieved.
There are several reasons why a compressor would work abnormally and the most common reason is low refrigerant level, it is easy to measure the refrigerant level by yourself using a gauge and it can be refilled with little or no professional help.
Other probable causes can be a choked condenser or a cabin air filter, the condenser can be cleaned by rinsing it with a pressurized spray of water, cabin air filters are cheap and readily available and the rule of thumb is to change them once every year.
If all the above measures don’t resolve the problem of a car’s compressor’s abnormal cycles then professional Automechanic help should be sought immediately before the problem gets even worse.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.