How Long Does Car AC Compressor Last

How Long Does Car AC Compressor Last

You know the AC compressor is the heart of the air conditioning system. Understanding its lifespan and the factors that influence it is crucial for every car owner. Like all mechanical parts, the car AC compressor isn’t invulnerable to wear and tear. So how long does car AC compressor last?

The average lifetime of a car AC compressor is 10 years.

In this article, I will explain the important information about the AC compressor you should know as a regular driver and how to make the AC compressor last longer. Let’s dive into the topic: how long does a car AC compressor last?

Car Air Conditioning System

Plan of the car air condition system

Car AC systems work on a simple principle. The AC system removes heat and moisture from the inside of the car and creates a comfortable, cool atmosphere inside. The AC compressor is at the core of the cooling process. That’s why it’s referred to as the heart of the AC system.

Component of the AC systemDescription
CompressorPressurizes and circulates the refrigerant
CondenserCools down and condenses the refrigerant gas
EvaporatorCools down the air by absorbing heat
Expansion ValveRegulates the flow of refrigerant
DrierServes as a storage container for liquid refrigerant and removes moisture and contaminants from the system
Condenser FanRemove heat from the condenser
Blower FanBlow ait through evaporator
AC Control PanelYou can adjust Ac colling and fan speed by this
Hoses and PipesProvide facility to refrigerant to move through out the system

What Does the AC Compressor Do in The AC System?

The AC compressor converts low-pressure refrigerant gas into high-pressure, high-temperature gas. This high-pressure gas flows through the condenser. Then, it releases heat and transforms into a high-pressure liquid.

This compression is essential for the transfer of heat, allowing the system to release the absorbed heat to the outside. Then the liquid refrigerant passes through the expansion valve and undergoes a rapid pressure drop. This causes the refrigerator liquid to cool rapidly.

This chilled liquid now enters the evaporator. As the warm air from the car’s cabin passes over the evaporator’s surface, the cool refrigerant absorbs the heat of the air. Now the refrigerant becomes warm and returns to the compressor to restart the cycle.

What Are the Factors Affecting the Lifespan of The Car AC Compressor?

AC compressor lifespan is based on a range of factors. You can prolong the life of the compressor by being aware of those factors. Here are the key factors that determine the lifespan of the car’s AC compressor:

Quality of Refrigerant and lubricant

High-quality refrigerant and lubricant are essential for smooth compressor operation. Contaminated substances increase compressor wear and reduce its lifespan.

Driving Conditions

Frequent use of the AC in extremely hot weather and harsh driving conditions causes the compressor to work harder. So, this reduces the compressor lifespan.

Overworking the System

Demanding excessive cooling and constantly setting the AC to the coldest temperature cause the AC compressor to overwork. Compressor wear increases due to overworking.

Timely Repairs

Ignoring early signs of AC system problems, such as unusual noises and reduced cooling performance, worsens the compressor issues. Promptly addressing the issues prevents further damage to the compressor.


Proper installation of a new compressor and correct repair procedures significantly impact its performance and longevity. When replacing the compressor, it should be done with proper guidance or by a qualified mechanic.

What Are the Signs of A Failing Car AC Compressor?

AC compressor of car

Here are the main signs of a failing car AC compressor: If you notice any of them, take immediate action, as the failing AC compressor affects the whole engine.

Reduced Cooling Performance

I think you guessed this. This is the main sign of a problematic car AC compressor. In this case, you will notice low cooling temperatures or take much more time to cool down the cabin.

Unusual Noises

A failing compressor produces unusual noises due to worn bearings. You will hear a rattling, clanking, or grinding sound from the AC compressor.

Frequent Cycling

Frequent cycling means the AC system turns on and off frequently. You know the refrigerant flow is regulated by the AC compressor. Frequent cycling indicates a problem associated with the AC compressor.

AC Clutch Not Engaging

The compressor’s clutch should engage and disengage as needed to control the cooling process. If you notice the clutch remains engaged or fails to engage at all, it is also a sign of a bad AC compressor. You can manually disengage the AC compressor clutch if it remains engaged. Sometimes AC clutch problems happen due to electrical issues.

Hot Air from Vents

The AC will blow hot air from the vents with the problematic AC compressor and low refrigerant levels.

How Long Does Car AC Compressor Last?

Let’s move to our main topic: how long does car AC compressor last?

The average lifetime of a car AC compressor is 10 years. Sometimes the AC compressor clutch fails before that age. If so, you have to replace the complete AC compressor as the AC compressor clutch is irreparable. You can increase the lifespan of the AC compressor by performing proper maintenance and paying attention to the things I mentioned above.


Will AC work if compressor is bad?

With a bad AC compressor, you first experience reduced cooling performance. You should take immediate action on that. If not, the entire AC system will stop working.

What causes ac compressor failure car?

Car AC compressor failure can result from refrigerant leaks, lack of maintenance, contaminants, overheating, electrical and clutch issues, incorrect refrigerant, age, physical damage, or poor installation and repairs. Regular maintenance and prompt attention to warning signs can help extend the compressor’s lifespan.

Can a car AC compressor be repaired?

Yes, the car AC compressor is repairable, and most of the components of the car AC compressor are replaceable. However, the AC compressor cannot be replaced. If it is bad, you have to replace the entire AC compressor.

Is it worth replacing compressor on AC unit in car?

A car AC compressor replacement costs up to $1500. It is worth it or not, as determined by your requirement for AC. If you don’t need AC in the car, you can simply bypass the AC compressor using a serpentine belt without spending a huge amount of money.


How long does car AC compressor last? As we discussed above, it depends on the usage, and normally an AC compressor will last up to 10 years. You can increase its lifetime through proper maintenance.

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