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Car and Truck AC Compressors and Clutches

The air conditioning system is a vital part of a vehicle such as a car or truck. This is especially true during the summer when the weather is hot, which can affect quality and performance. Two parts that make the air conditioner function are the AC compressor and the clutch.

How does an AC compressor work?

The AC compressor pressurizes the air conditioning system. It keeps the refrigerant moving so the system can function. The air conditioner would not run without it. Here is how this component functions:

  • It increases the refrigerant's gas temperature so that it is higher than the temperature of the surrounding air.
  • It pressurizes the refrigerant's gas with a simple pump mechanism.
  • The engine propels the pump rotor inside the AC compressor pump at a fast pace, drawing the gas into the intake valve.
  • The gas is contained in a tank until it is pressurized enough, and then it is pumped into the condenser.
What does an AC clutch do?

When the engine's pump rotor is driven into the compressor pump directly, the compressor needs to turn off and on automatically. The clutch employs the compressor to trigger the air conditioning unit. Here is how that works:

  • A current runs through the coil, creating an electromagnetic force in the direction of the friction plate, which is next to the electromagnetic coil.
  • The electromagnetic force brings the two friction plates, one in the compressor and one in the clutch, towards each other.
  • That propels the pump rotor in the compressor.
  • Each friction surface has springs that enable them to return to their natural positions when the current stops moving through the coil.
How do you install an AC compressor?

Here is how you install an AC compressor in your vehicle:

  1. Transfer the harness from the old compressor to the replacement.
  2. Clean the bolts with a metal wire brush.
  3. Put Loctite glue on the bolts to prevent corrosion.
  4. Insert all the bolts and tighten by hand.
  5. Torque down the bolts.
  6. Reconnect the electrical connector.
  7. Take off the covers to the hose attachments.
  8. Add washer seals to the hose lines.
  9. Reinsert the hoses, hand tightening them and then torquing them down.
  10. Reattach the belt.
How do you replace an AC clutch?

Here is how you replace an AC clutch in your vehicle:

  1. Either remove the compressor from your car or truck, if you are able, remove only the bolts you need to lift it up and gain access.
  2. Take off the clutch. Use a clutch removal tool and a holding tool.
  3. Use snap ring pliers to remove the snap ring.
  4. Use a puller to remove the pulley, which had previously been secured by the snap ring.
  5. Remove the snap ring that holds the coil assembly to the compressor.
  6. Remove the coil assembly.
  7. Clean the nose cone carefully.
  8. Install the new coil pack, orienting it to connect it to the electrical connector.
  9. Attach the big snap ring.
  10. Install the pulley and the smaller snap ring.
  11. Install the replacement clutch, and tighten the nut that holds it down.
  12. Add the compressor back to your vehicle's engine.