It can be frustrating when your AC compressor is running but won't take Freon (the refrigerant). This typically happens because of a leak, clog, defective clutch, or bad compressor.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get your air conditioner working again without too much trouble.
We’ll go over what you need to do in this article so that you can get back to enjoying your cool car on hot summer days! Keep reading.
If you are trying to refill the refrigerant but the AC won’t take it, then only follow this portion of the article.
How to Check Whether AC Compressor is Working or Not
Before we get into the troubleshooting process, you must check whether it’s the problem you are anticipating or anything else. Here’s what you need to do to find out-
1. Locate the Compressor
The first step is to find the compressor under the hood. The compressor is connected with the serpentine belt. So, it’s easy to locate it without wasting any time.
2. Turn on the AC
After you locate it, get back to your driving seat and turn on the car. Turn the AC on and enable recirculation mode so that it blows air and runs the compressor.
3. Observe the Compressor Clutch
After you’re done with the second step, get out of the car and go under the hood again.
You should now see the compressor clutch spinning.
If it stops after a while and runs again after a few seconds, then there is a slight problem for you to fix. This happens due to the low refrigerant followed by low pressure in the pump. Follow this method to solve the issue.
However, if you see that the compressor clutch is not spinning at all, you should consult with a mechanic to get it solved.
If the compressor is running but it’s not cooling the interior of the car, proceed to the next section as we describe the troubleshooting process.
AC Compressor is Running But Won’t Take Freon: Reasons & Solutions
As we have mentioned earlier, there can be multiple reasons why the AC compressor is running but it’s not taking freon, which results in hot air blowing inside the car from the AC vent.
1. Leak in the Air Conditioning System
One of the reasons why your AC compressor is running but not cooling may be a leak. The refrigerant in the air conditioning system escapes due to this leak and that’s what makes it feel considerably hot inside the car even if you have turned on the AC.
Now, there are two ways out – First way is to find where exactly the leak is and fix it (which may be a difficult task if you don’t know how to do it).
The other way out is to bring the car to an auto shop and let them handle this issue.
If you decide to troubleshoot this issue yourself, you can follow this-
Find the leak in the system
If you find the leak with bare eyes, that’s great but the chances are, the leak won’t be exposed for you to clearly identify it. So, a leak detection kit may come in handy here. We recommend this one –
Seal the Leak
After you find the leak, it’s time to seal that up. While major leaks require expensive repairs in auto mechanics shops, you can get the leaks sealed up with a Super Seal product. Here’s what we recommend–
Although I recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions to seal the leak, here’s a brief overview of what you need to do-
- Find the low-pressure service port.
- Connect the super seal with that port.
- Pour the full bottle of super seal onto the line. You’re done!
2. Air Conditioner Needs Recharge
If there isn’t any leak in the system, the refrigerant on the air conditioning system may be low.
In most cases, low refrigerant is what causes the air condition not to cool the interior of the car despite running the compressor properly.
Recharging the AC is pretty straightforward and easy. You can do this at home with a simple recharge bottle. The process is as simple as the technique we’ve discussed above for super seal usage.
However, you need to be picky when it comes to aftermarket refrigerants. We recommend this one–
As we have discussed above, if the ac compressor cycles on and off, it means the refrigerant and ac pressure are too low. In such situation, it won’t refrigerant. To solve the issue-
- Find the low-pressure switch, typically found at the lower part of the air conditioning system under the hood.
- Take the switch off of its place.
- Use a wire stripped on both ends to put in the holes of the low-pressure switch that you took out.
- Start the car and turn the AC on.
While you do this process, keep the refill kit connected so that when you turn the AC on, it can take refrigerant. If the process seems overwhelming, follow this video demonstration-
3. Compressor Clutch Has Gone Bad
If the compressor is running but it’s not cooling, there may be something wrong with the clutch.
In this case, your AC will keep on cycling without actually blowing cool air inside your car and you’ll need to get a replacement of the broken AC compressor clutch right away!
An easy way to find that is by following the first section of this guide where we have discussed the ways of discovering the actual problem. If you find that the clutch is not spinning altogether, it’s a sign that it has gone bad.
However, a bad clutch can still spin sometimes as well. So, it’s better to find an experienced auto mechanic to inspect the vehicle for you before you replace that. The inspection typically costs no or very little money.
4. Clog in the Pipes
If the compressor is running but not cooling, it may be due to a clog in the pipes.
The refrigerant flows through tubes and if they get blocked somewhere along their path, there won’t be any cool air inside your car at all!
An easy way to know whether this is the case or not is to put your hand against the AC vent inside the car while maintaining the AC on full flow.
If you feel that the air is not coming from the vent as expected, or no air altogether, it can be a clog in the tubes that carry the cold air through.
It’s not ideal to attempt to fix this issue in your driveway. It’s better to have some assistance from professional mechanics in such cases.
5. Power Issue
If you’re still not getting any cool air inside your car, it may also be because the power to the AC compressor is out or there’s a problem with that.
You can find whether this is an issue by simply checking if all other electrical components are working properly in the vehicle.
If they do work fine, I would recommend using a multimeter to check whether the AC compressor is getting enough power it requires to run properly.
Simply take the wire connections from the AC unit and use the multimeter probe to see if the voltage reading comes at around 12 or not. If it’s not 12, there is an issue with the power.
On some occasions, you may see that the AC compressor is spinning but it’s not working properly because the power is not adequate for the system to operate properly.
A loose connection or damaged cable is one of the most common culprits behind this issue.
A bad alternator can also cause this issue but that will cause many other components on your car to malfunction.
If you came to know that a bad cable is what caused the issue, you can simply replace the bad or damaged cable with a quality one to make things work again.
6. Compressor Got Bad
If everything seems fine with the car and you’ve done all of the tests we discussed above, there’s a chance that your AC compressor has gone bad.
You can confirm this by checking whether it is spinning or not at all when the vehicle is turned on and other electrical components are working as expected.
You may need to get a replacement if you come to know that this is what has gone wrong with your air conditioner.
A new compressor may be available for purchase online or at local auto parts stores but make sure to pick one with a good warranty policy as these machines are expensive.
If you want to save money, you may check your local junkyard and find a suitable and working compressor for the ac.
In this article, we have discussed the various possible causes for an AC compressor running but not taking freon.
We hope that by reading through this post you will be able to identify which of these reasons is what has caused your car’s air conditioner to stop functioning properly and get it fixed as soon as possible!
We recommend not to try anything that you are not confident about, especially regarding AC as things can go wrong in many ways.