Car Air Conditioner Makes Whooshing Noise – What’s Wrong?

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The sound made by an air conditioner is one of the first-hand diagnostic measures for examining your AC's status. If your car AC makes a whooshing sound, then you should be concerned. But what does this sound mean exactly? Here's the answer we got after in-depth research. 

Mainly, the whooshing sound comes from a leak or low refrigerant in your car's air conditioner. Apart from the air conditioner not being able to produce cool air, you will need to spend a significant amount of money to replace the air conditioning lubrication.  

There are still essential things to know about repairing a whooshing car air conditioner. Keep reading to understand how AC works, the various sounds it makes, and how to safely stop them. 

Woman hand on air conditioner ventilation grille in car. Climate control panel - Car Air Conditioner Makes Whooshing Noise - What's Wrong

How Do Car Air Conditioners Work? 

Cut out shot of unrecognizable woman pressing a car hazard light button.

The mechanism behind the cool air released by the car air conditioner is a bit intricate. That is why all the parts of the air conditioner must be functioning properly all the time. Here's the step-by-step process of how your air conditioner works. 

First, the AC compressor draws in low-temperature air in your car. The compressors are made of 5-10 pistons that work together. Then the low temperature and pressure air are then compressed to that of high temperature and pressure. 

The condenser receives high-temperature and high-pressure air from the AC compressor. The condenser's job is to turn the high-temperature and high-pressure air into low-temperature and high-temperature air.  

The Dryer

The dryer is the next part of the system that will receive low temperature and high-pressure air. It consists of an inlet and outlet point.  The inlet is the part that receives the air and then passes it through a filter and desiccant to remove moisture and dirt, which are likely to freeze the system. 

The dryer's outlet will be the passageway for the expansion valve to the orifice tube. The air is forced into the orifice tube. The orifice tube, also known as the expansion valve, is a hose-like substance that cools the hot air by regulating the high pressure into low pressure. The air is now in liquid form. Hence, the liquified air is made of low temperature and low pressure. 

Finally, the air will be moved into the evaporator as the condenser of the car air conditioner.  It reduces the temperature to about 32-degrees while also releasing the low-temperature air into the car.  

Why Does Your Car Air Conditioner Make a Whooshing Noise? 

Simple, your car air conditioner makes a whooshing noise because its refrigerant leaks. Hence, causing a reduction in the refrigerant level. When the car AC is in operation, functionalities are hindered by the inability of enough refrigerant to change high-pressure air into low-pressure air. 

As explained earlier, the air, on its way into the expansion valve, turns into liquified air or most. The refrigerants help to change the air into liquified air. 

Not all the air will be liquified if your AC is low on lubricant.  Hence, the air will reach the evaporator without being liquified. The air passing through the evaporator produces a whooshing sound. 

The car air conditioner producing a whooshing sound is a sign it is low on AC refrigerants. So it needs to be taken to an auto technician. 

How To Stop Car Air Conditioner Whooshing Noise

The only remedy to stop the whooshing sound is fixing the leak or topping up refrigerants. Since it is a car AC, you might not be able to repair it all by yourself. You can meet the required local automobile experts to help you check your car's air conditioner. 

Meanwhile, you can switch off the AC in the meantime. The whooshing sound will stop, but you should get it serviced anytime soon. 

Types of Noises Car Air Conditioners Make and Their Meaning

Interior car cabin, air-conditioning car

There are different major sounds your AC can make which would notify you of various kinds of defects. Here is a list of noises an air conditioner makes and what they are signifying to you:  

Whooshing Sound

As mentioned earlier, this whooshing sound can be used as a diagnostic indicator to know if your car's air conditioner is leaking freon commonly known as refrigerants.

Clicking and Squealing Noise

A low clicking sound is normal for an AC when the clutch is engaged. However, if the clicking noise is not just high but rapid, then you need to get it checked urgently. 

The reason is usually that the clutch of the AC is not working properly, seized, or damaged. That is, it needs urgent attention or even a replacement. By the way, if the clutch is completely damaged, this clicking noise might come from the AC more frequently. 

Vibration Sound

Usually, this kind of sound is caused by the AC hose rubbing against another hose from the internal part of the car. You can just remove the AC cover and look into it. If the hoses or panels are rubbing around each other, simply separate them.

Groaning or Rattling Sound

This sound means that you need to attend to a malfunction in your AC as soon as possible. Usually, the reason for this kind of sound can be found in the inefficient compressor mounts.

Sometimes, the compressor clutch and the blower motor do this too. However, groaning or rattling sounds occur once in a while. Once you notice them, take your car AC for maintenance. 

Hissing Sound

This is a common car AC sound. It is usually not a sign of a big issue. If you are just switching your car AC on for the first time in a while, you might hear your AC hiss just because it's been a while since you used it. 

Buzzing Sound

If the whooshing sound is a result of your low refrigerants, then the buzzing sound is the opposite. After the car AC has been serviced and topped up, and you hear a buzzing noise, the AC has been overcharged with refrigerant.

If there is too much refrigerant in an AC to the point that it makes this buzzing or whirring sound, it can result in damage to some of the car ACs' components. 

Why Is My Car's AC Making a Whirring Noise? 

Closeup portrait of car's driver hand on air conditioner blower hole

A whirring noise in a car's AC is a sound that might be continuous and rapid, and you need to know where the issue is coming from. 

The main reason for a whirring sound is the overcharging of the car AC. If the Air conditioner has been topped up with too much refrigerants, then it is likely to make a whirring noise. 

This is one of the reasons you are to get your car checked by only experts in the automobile field to help you with filling up the refrigerants once you notice that it is very low. 

What Does a Failing AC Compressor Sound Like? 

A good AC compressor makes an even sound. The sound from its fan or maybe the clutch once in a while is the only sound you should hear from the AC compressor. 

However, when the AC compressor has started developing faults, the sound would turn into an uneven and irritating one. These are the signs that your AC compressors are not performing at their best. 

The common noises you'd hear in a failing AC compressor are banging, knocking, groaning, whistling, hissing, squealing, and so on. 

What Does a Freon Leak Sound Like? 

Freon is the industry name for the refrigerants that helps to convert the normal air in your AC system into the mist on its way into the orifice tube. 

When it starts leaking, there is a whooshing or bubbling sound because it results in the air not turning into liquified air. Hence releasing normal air into the compressor. 

Is It Normal For An Air Conditioner to Make Noise? 

One man, mechanic recharging car air-condition in auto repair shop.

Disturbing noises in air conditioners are not normal and are signs that your air conditioner is faulty and should be checked as soon as possible. 

However, your air conditioner can make mild humming sounds once in a while. Mostly when you have not used them for some time. However, watch out for continuous irregular sounds. 

In Summary

Your car air conditioner doesn't just make noise without reason. This is why you need to be familiar with irregular sounds made in any part of your car. If your car's AC system is not damaged, then it might be about to. Regular car maintenance can help detect any issue quickly so they don't cause even more damage. 

For more on air conditioners, we recommend reading these related articles: 

How to Bleed Off an Overcharged Car AC

Carrier AC Fan Won't Shut Off - What's Wrong? 

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