Car Makes Grinding Noise When AC Is On – What’s Wrong?

If your car starts making grinding noises while the air conditioner is turned on, then you should know that there could be something wrong with the AC system. It can be a pretty scary thought for any car owner, but thankfully, we've got you covered! We’ve reached out to the experts for a solution.

Grinding noises are usually caused by a worn-out compressor or a foreign object obstructing the blower motor. These noises can be heard when the engine is running and not when the car is stopped.

Keep reading as we explain what’s causing your car to make a grinding sound. Also, we will give you a simple solution on how to fix this issue.

A black cockpit with button and icon for air conditioner option, Car Makes Grinding Noise When AC Is On - What's Wrong?


Why Does a Car Make Grinding Sounds While the Air Conditioner is On?

Car noises are often associated with things that are either broken or defective and troubleshooting can be a challenge. To determine what is causing the problem, you'll need to look at the type of noise you hear and the direction it's coming from.

The grinding sound is likely coming from the compressor itself if it can only be heard if the AC is on. However, you need to check other parts of the system before you assume this is the source of the issue. Just keep your fingers crossed it's not the compressor because that can be a very expensive fix. 

If you notice that the sounds come from the blower motor, then some object must have gotten stuck in the fan wheel. Check under the glove box and remove any foreign objects that may be present. 

What to Do if the Grinding Noise Comes from the Compressor

Auto mechanic showing a broken air conditioning compressor

The compressor is the main component of an air conditioner. A properly working compressor is essential to the operation of the air conditioner. However, if the compressor is faulty, it will emit a grinding sound.

If you suspect that the compressor is the culprit, then the best course of action is to call in a professional who will be able to diagnose and fix the problem.

Check this video for a complete explanation why you may hear a grinding noise in your car:

What Causes an AC Compressor to Fail?

An air conditioner compressor can fail for a number of reasons. The most common cause of an AC compressor failure is loss of lubrication.

The lubrication system is designed to maintain proper refrigerant oil circulation to keep your compressor's moving parts moving smoothly. It is important to ensure that the lubrication system is adequately maintained. 

Leaks can damage the lubrication system and cause unwanted noises. Inspect all lubrication points to identify whether there is any leakage. If you find any leaks, then you should address the issue immediately.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace an AC Compressor in a Car?

According to Bridwell Automotive Center, the price of replacing an AC compressor depends on the type of compressor your vehicle has. Generally, car compressor replacement will cost between $842 to $1146.

Replacing your car's compressor is not the final solution every time you see a problem in it. However, in this case, where the compressor produces a grinding sound, it is best to get it replaced right away.

Technician use filler gates check compressor clutch on car engine in service work of air conditioner of ca

How Much Does it Cost to Fix an AC Compressor in a Car?

If you have an air conditioner compressor and its motor is not functioning properly, you can expect to pay between $300 and $500 to fix it in labor costs alone. However, depending on the extent of the problem, fixing the compressor may require the replacement of parts or the replacement of the entire unit itself.

Car air conditioner compressor replacement process

If you opt to have the compressor repaired, then you will have to pay the repairman for the labor. In the long run, you may end up paying more than if you had replaced it. In addition, one cannot expect a compressor that has gone under the knife to last. So, it makes sense to have it replaced with a new one instead. 

How Long Does it Take to Replace a Car AC Compressor?

If you need to replace your car's air conditioning compressor, you might wonder how long it will take for the repair shop to complete the job.

A replacement job of a car air conditioning compressor can take 4 to 6 hours, depending on the circumstances. The duration of the replacement process can vary depending on how efficient the repair service technician is in putting the refrigerant and installing the compressor.

Repair the air compressor of the car in the garage

How Long Does an AC Compressor Last in a Car?

The service life depends on the quality of the compressor and the number of hours it is used each day. But generally, an AC compressor should last 12 to 15 years. It is vital that the compressor is regularly inspected to ensure longevity. 

When Should You Replace Your Car's AC Compressor?

Used car airconditioning compressor in a plastic bucket with another used engine part and rubbish

It is highly recommended that you don't wait for your car's AC compressor to make grinding noises before you call in a professional to fix the problem. Ideally, you should take action when your car's AC compressor is 8 to 10 years old by going proactively to your nearest auto repair shop and having it inspected. 

There are several different signs of an AC compressor problem, and most of them are not the grinding noise that you may be thinking about. Aside from grinding noise, here are 2 telltale signs that you need to have your AC compressor replaced: 

1. Your car's AC system is blowing hot air instead of cold 

If your car's air conditioner blows hot air instead of cold, it could mean that there is a problem with the compressor or with the refrigerant line. 

To determine whether your car's AC compressor needs servicing, check under the hood and see for any sign of leakage. If it looks like the compressor has been leaking, you'll want to bring your car to a professional so that he can inspect it.

2. Your AC compressor's clutch is stuck

You can hear the AC compressor turning, but it will not engage. This is a very serious problem as the clutch cannot be replaced and you have to replace the entire compressor. You need to have your AC compressor inspected right away to determine if it has actually failed.

Top 5 Car AC Compressors

Here are the top 5 car AC compressors according to sales and popularity. These AC compressors are vehicle-specific. You can check if it's compatible with your vehicle's make and model by using the product compatibility calculator just right above the product image once you get to its web page.

1. AA Ignition Car AC Compressor 

AA Ignition car AC compressors are designed to maintain the proper refrigerant charge in order to achieve optimum cooling performance. With a redesigned clutch bearing, the compressor will continue to operate smoothly longer than its genuine OEM counterpart.

The new design improves reliability by increasing the bearing life and reducing the number of potential failures. In addition, the new compressor pressurizes the refrigerant to produce the desired temperature. The result is a cooler and quieter driving experience. The AA Ignition car AC compressor is compatible with most Honda Civic models.

Click here to see this AA Ignition car AC compressor on Amazon.

2. Vevor Car AC Compressor

The Vevor car AC compressor is a high-quality and durable compressor. It's easy to install and maintain. It has excellent fuel and cooling efficiency, low noise, high durability, and long service life. The Vevor car AC compressor is compatible with most Nissan SUVs.

Click here to see this Vevor car AC compressor on Amazon.

3. UAC Car AC Compressor

The UAC Car AC compressor is designed to replace the OEM compressor in most Chevy and GMC SUVs, but it will also work in other vehicles that have a similar compressor system.

This replacement unit is the best choice for those who want a reliable, economical, and easy-to-install option. This unit includes the compressor, pulley, clutch, and coil. The compressor is fully-lubricated to ensure it arrives in perfect condition. 

Click here to see this UAC car AC compressor on Amazon.

4. Universal Air Conditioner Car Compressor

The Universal car AC compressor is suitable for various cars and SUVs with standard-size air conditioning systems (always check your car's OEM part number for compatibility). The compressor undergoes strict quality control measures to ensure value for your money.

Click here to see this Universal car AC compressor.

5. Denso Car AC Compressor

The Denso car AC compressor is a fuel-efficient compressor for air conditioning systems in vehicles. It offers quiet operation, reduced vibration, and passed strict quality control. This compressor will save you money on gasoline and will reduce noise pollution in your vehicle.

Click here to see this Denso AC compressor on Amazon.

In Closing

We have figured out that the grinding noise is caused by a worn-out compressor. If you notice this problem, it's advisable to get in touch with a good mechanic to help you deal with the issue. 

You may find additional information not covered in this topic in these articles:

Why Does My Car Air Conditioner Only Work On High?

How To Bleed Off An Overcharged Car AC?

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