How To Manually Disengage AC Compressor Clutch

How To Manually Disengage AC Compressor Clutch

Sometimes the AC compressor clutch becomes locked up and does not disengage even when we turn off the AC. Then the question that comes to mind is: how to manually disengage AC compressor clutch?

Mainly, there are 2 methods to manually disengage the AC compressor clutch. The first method is disconnecting the power supply, and the second is installing a bypass pulley.

When I was in your situation, I deeply researched finding a way to disengage the AC compressor clutch manually. After trying different methods, I was able to find a successful one. In this article, I will explain how I manually disengaged the AC compressor clutch.

Why Is My Car AC Compressor Constantly Running?

AC compressor clutch

The main reasons behind the stuck AC compressor clutch are a faulty AC compressor clutch relay, low refrigerant levels, a pressure switch malfunction, and electrical issues.

How To Manually Disengage AC Compressor Clutch

Disconnecting powerDisconnect the power supply from the AC compressor clutch
Bypass pullyRemove the AC compressor and install a bypass pulley

I will explain both methods as step-by-step guides. I did the first one myself.

So, how to manually disengage AC compressor clutch? This is how I manually disengage the AC compressor clutch.

Step 1: Locate the AC Compressor

First, I found the AC compressor. It was situated at the front of the engine.

Step 2: Identify the Clutch Mechanism

There is a movable part in the center section of the pulley. That is the clutch mechanism that is responsible for engaging and disengaging the AC compressor.

Step 3: Locate the Clutch Coil Connector

Then I located the coil connector on the compressor. It was behind the pulley of the AC compressor. This connector supplies power to the clutch coil.

Step 4: Disconnect the Connector of the Clutch Coil

I carefully unplugged it to cut off the power supply to the clutch coil.

Step 5: Test the Disengagement

Finally, I started the engine. Successful. The AC compressor didn’t engage anymore. The pulley spun freely without any resistance, and there was no extra strain on the engine anymore.

Method 2: Engaging the AC Compressor Bypass Pulley

AC compressor bypass pulley

Here is a step-by-step guide to bypassing an AC compressor by using a bypass pulley.

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools

First, gather the required tools for the task.

  • AC compressor bypass pulley
  • Wrench or socket set
  • Screwdriver (if required)
  • Safety goggles and gloves

Step 2: Park the Vehicle

Park the vehicle on a flat surface and pull the handbrake safely.

Step 3: Locate the AC Compressor

The AC compressor is in the engine bay. So, you can locate the AC compressor by opening the hood. The engine crankshaft-connected belt powers the AC compressor. If your car is a newer one, the AC compressor is run by the serpentine belt.

Step 4: Disconnect Wires

As we need to pull out the AC compressor, disconnecting wires is crucial. So, identify the cables connecting to the AC compressor and disconnect them carefully by unclipping the clips. Be cautious not to damage any wires or connectors.

Step 5: Remove the Belt

Then remove the belt from the AC compressor’s pulley.

Step 6: Remove the Bolts

The AC compressor is connected to the mounting bracket using bolts. Remove the bolts using the wrench. Then carefully lift the AC compressor out.

Note: Sometimes you need to remove other components to gain better access. It depends on the vehicle model.

Step 7: Install the Bypass Pulley

Install the bypass pulley at the place where the AC compressor was. Align the pulley with the belt path correctly and fit it to the mounting bracket. Tight the bolts well.

Step 8: put the Belt

Finally, put the belt on the bypass pulley. That’s it!

Note: Start the engine and verify the bypass pulley is aligned correctly and functioning without any vibrations.

Maintenance Tips to Prevent AC Compressor Issues

Regular maintenance is crucial to preventing AC compressor issues. It also helps to ensure that the AC compressor is operating at optimal performance.

Tip 7: Keep the Area Around the Compressor Clean

Ensure that the area around the AC compressor is clean and free from dust and dirt. This reduces the ability of dust and particles to enter the compressor.

Tip 6: Clean the Condenser Coils

The condenser coils are responsible for releasing the heat from the refrigerant, and with usage, dust and debris accumulate on the coils, disturbing the heat transfer. You can use a soft brush or vacuum cleaner to keep the coils clean.

Tip 5: Check Refrigerant Levels

Insufficient refrigerant causes the AC compressor to work harder. Check the refrigerant levels once every two to three years. It’s best to consult a professional HVAC technician for refrigerant-related tasks.

Tip 4: Lubricate Moving Parts

The AC compressor has various moving parts that require lubrication to reduce friction and wear. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and lubricate the recommended components as needed.

Tip 3: Maintain Proper Electrical Connections

Ensure electrical wire connecting clips are free from corrosion and properly fixed. Loose or damaged electrical connections cause compressor issues.

Tip 2: Clean Air Filters

Clogged air filters restrict the airflow. Then it puts additional strain on the compressor. So clean air filters at least once every two months.

Tip 1: Clean the Air Vents

Make sure there is no dust or debris in the air vents. Trim out debris if there is any. They restrict the airflow and put additional strain on the AC compressor.


What are the safety precautions I should take before attempting to disengage the clutch?

  1. Turn off the engine
  2. Allow the system to cool down
  3. Wear protective gear
  4. Disconnect the battery

Are there any potential risks or damage associated with manually disengaging the AC compressor clutch?

There are no big issues. But, manually disengaging the AC compressor clutch can cause a minor problem like a refrigerant leak. If you manually disengage the AC compressor clutch while the AC system is pressurized, it can create a sudden pressure imbalance, which results in a refrigerant leak. This only happens at the time you disengage the clutch.

Should the AC compressor clutch spin all the time?

The majority of AC clutches are made to spin both with the pulley and compressor while they are engaged and freely when they are not. It may not be engaging and consequently have to be replaced if the clutch spins freely at all times and the compressor never turns on.

Can you drive without an AC compressor clutch?

As long as you don’t want or need air conditioning in the car, you will be good. Your AC unit’s pulley is a free-spinning pulley with a clutch. Up until you turn the air conditioning on, it will spin at will. You can still drive your automobile even if the clutch isn’t functioning properly.


You now understand everything about how to manually disengage AC compressor clutch. It is a relatively easy process that you can do yourself with proper guidance.

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