Car AC Compressor Only Runs For A Few Seconds – 2024

Experiencing a scenario where the car AC compressor only runs for a few seconds can be frustrating, especially during scorching summers. Recently, I encountered this issue, which prompted me to delve deeper into understanding its causes and potential solutions.

The condenser coils may be dusty, the fan motor may be broken, or there may need to be more airflow around the unit. Low refrigerant levels: Your AC system’s compressor may shut off if the refrigerant levels are too low. 

This article will explore the possible causes behind this problem and provide suitable solutions to resolve it.

Car Air Conditioner Starts Then Stops After Only A Few Seconds:

If the condenser coil is dirty, your AC may fail to complete the cooling process, leading it to shut down shortly after starting. Regularly cleaning the condenser coil with a coil brush to remove debris and a fin comb to realign the fins can prevent this issue.

Ac Compressor Only Kicks On For A Second:

Car Ac Compressor Cut Off Frequently? You’re probably experiencing frequent cycling of the compressor due to low refrigerant levels (freon). Using A/C gauges, you’d notice low pressures on both the high and low sides, indicating insufficient refrigerant.

Also Read: Car AC Takes A While To Turn On

Car Ac Compressor Running But Not Cooling:

Car AC compressor running but not cooling may stem from an electrical issue in the compressor circuit or the magnetic clutch. Alternatively, internal obstructions in the refrigerant circuit could impede refrigerant circulation within the AC system.

Car Ac Compressor Turns On And Off:

The frequent cycling of the car AC compressor, turning on and off, is often due to either excess or insufficient refrigerant. If refrigerant has been added recently, it might be overfilled. Verify AC pressures using a set of high and low-pressure AC gauges.

Causes and Solutions Car AC Compressor Running for a Few Seconds:

Why does my AC compressor stop after a few seconds? I recently encountered this frustrating issue during a road trip, prompting me to research and find solutions for fellow drivers. Let’s explore the potential causes and personalized fixes to get your AC compressor running smoothly.

1. Insufficient Refrigerant:

Car Ac Compressor Shuts Off After A Few Seconds? Inadequate refrigerant is one of the leading causes of a short-running AC compressor. The system may activate a low-pressure safety switch that shuts down the compressor briefly if the refrigerant levels are too low.

 Insufficient Refrigerant
source:pippin brothers

2. Malfunctioning Pressure Switch:

What does it mean if the AC compressor kicks on and off again after 3 seconds? The pressure switch monitors the pressure of the refrigerant in the system. A broken pressure switch may transmit the wrong signals to the compressor, resulting in an early shutdown.

Malfunctioning Pressure Switch
source:mechanic base

3. Overheating:

AC compressor only runs for a few minutes? The compressor motor may automatically cut down to save additional damage when it overheats due to excessive strain or insufficient maintenance. A broken thermal switch, a clogged condenser, or a broken fan can all cause overheating.

source:auto trends megazine

4. Thermostat Problems:

Why does my car ac compressor stop after a few minutes? The AC system may get false signals from a broken or incorrectly adjusted thermostat, which might cause the compressor to shut down early.

Thermostat Problems

Also Read: Car AC Fan Speeds Up And Slows Down

5. Wrong Thermostat Placement:

AC compressor shuts off after a few seconds? The AC compressor may start and stop quickly if the thermostat is placed in an area where it obtains erroneous temperature readings.

Wrong Thermostat Placement

6. Unclean Condenser Coils or Throttle Body:

Condenser coils that are dirty, clogged, or throttle bodies might restrict airflow, causing the compressor to overheat and shut off.

7. Large AC:

The compressor may cycle briefly if an AC system that is too big for the vehicle’s cooling requirements is installed.

8. Frozen Evaporators and Electrical Problems:

A sudden compressor shutdown may result from a frozen evaporator coil brought on by inadequate airflow. Electrical issues like a broken blower motor or dirty air filters may cause insufficient airflow. 

Frozen Evaporators and Electrical Problems
source:auto service experts

9. Bad Running Capacitor and Clogged Drain Lines:

Car ac compressor cut off frequently? A broken operating capacitor can disrupt the compressor’s power supply, leading to an early shutdown. Water can build up in clogged drain pipes, activating safety devices that shut off the compressor.

Also Read: Car Ac Turns Off At Wide Open Throttle

How To Fix Car AC Compressor Running for a Few Seconds?

When I faced this issue, I delved into troubleshooting methods to restore my AC’s functionality. Here are personalized steps to address the problem:

1. Recharge The System:

If low refrigerant levels are the root of the issue, a qualified technician must recharge the system with the proper amount of refrigerant. They will also look for leaks and fix them to stop further refrigerant loss.

2. Replace Or Repair The Pressure Switch:

The fix is to identify a broken pressure switch and, if required, replace it. A qualified technician can correctly test the switch to ascertain its operation and fix it.

3. Reduce Overheat:

Regular cooling system maintenance might aid in preventing overheating problems. Make sure the condenser and radiator are spotless and debris-free. Thermal switches and defective fans must be fixed or replaced if the compressor is overheating.

Also Read: AC Not Working And Car Overheating

4. Replace Thermostat:

Have a competent technician examine and replace the malfunctioning thermostat to maintain precise temperature management. Reinstall the thermostat in the proper location or move it to ensure it reads the temperature accurately.

5. Clean The Throttle Body:

To ensure adequate airflow, routinely clean the throttle body and condenser coils. It is advised to use professional cleaning services or complete DIY cleaning using the right equipment and products.

Unclean Condenser Coils or Throttle Body

6. Replace Malfunctioning Parts:

To avoid limited airflow and frozen evaporators, replace or repair malfunctioning parts like the blower motor and maintain air filters regularly.

Bad Running Capacitor and Clogged Drain Lines
source:hydraulic suspension

Replace the malfunctioning operating capacitor with a reliable one as a fix. Regularly clean and maintain the drain lines to avoid blockages and water buildup.

1. Why Does My Car Ac Compressor Start Then Shut Off?

You are most likely a little low on refrigerant (freon) and therefore the Compressor is ‘cycling’ too frequently.

2. Why Is My Car Ac Compressor Tripping Frequently?

If your AC compressor keeps tripping the breaker, it signals an issue with excessive power draw. This indicates a problem with the compressor, necessitating prompt repair or replacement.

3. What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Auto Ac Compressor?

Signs of a failing car AC compressor include the unit not turning on, blowing warm air, emitting loud noises, exhibiting oil leaks, or experiencing cooling system malfunctions.

4. Why Is My Ac Compressor Running But No Air?

When the AC compressor runs but no air is blown, it’s likely due to a broken blower belt or motor issues. If there’s a humming sound without motor activity, it suggests a motor problem.

5. Why Is My Ac Compressor Running But Blowing Hot Air?

When the AC compressor runs but blows hot air, it often indicates low refrigerant levels due to a leak in the system, necessitating refrigerant replenishment.

6. Why is my AC compressor humming but not starting?

Compressors that run out of air will stall, and when you try to restart yours, it can hum. To check if the air compressor is the cause of the buzzing, detach the air filter and remove it. Then, start the air compressor. If it functions, your filter needs to be cleaned.

7. How do I reset my AC compressor?

Reduce the AC’s power. Flip the breaker that powers your air conditioner at your circuit breaker panel to start. The majority of air conditioners come with a reset button. Release the reset button after three to five seconds of holding it down. Restore the AC’s power.

8. What does a failing AC compressor sound like?

It is time for AC servicing if, during the examination, you notice the AC compressor rattling, chirping, whining, chattering, or chattering noises.

9. How long does it take an AC compressor to reset?

After you restart the air conditioner, it will take some time for the internal circuitry to reset. Wait till then; it usually takes around 30 minutes.

10. Can you drive a car with a bad AC compressor?

People often delay vehicle maintenance, including repairs to the air conditioning system, especially if the weather isn’t hot. However, driving with a damaged A/C compressor is risky and should not be overlooked.


The exact circumstances that led to it running for a short while must be found and addressed for the automobile AC compressor to perform correctly. It is recommended to seek expert assistance from licensed technicians or HVAC professionals, whether the issue is a broken thermostat, faulty installation, unclean parts, an oversized air conditioner, low refrigerant leaks, overheating, a broken pressure switch, electrical problems, or blocked drain lines. By implementing the right solutions, you may fix these problems and take advantage of a fully working and effective automotive air conditioning system.

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