How To Change AC Compressor Clutch Bearing [Step By Step Guide]

Your car’s AC compressor isn’t working optimally, and you found out that its clutch bearing is at fault. Now, you’re wondering what the steps are to replace it. So we researched this concern for you, and here’s the information we found.

First, ensure that you’re following the correct safety protocols for this job. Then, gather the necessary items, such as a coolant recovery machine and a good pair of snap ring pliers. Once you’re ready, proceed to replace your AC compressor clutch bearing by following these steps:

  1. Remove the refrigerant
  2. Remove the AC compressor
  3. Remove the clutch
  4. Detach the old clutch bearing
  5. Install the new clutch bearing
  6. Reassemble the parts
  7. Recharge the AC system

It's important not to skip any details to complete this replacement task with as few risks of errors as possible. Continue reading as we talk about the steps to change your car's AC compressor clutch bearing in greater detail.

Heating and air conditioning inverter on the side of a house. - How To Change AC Compressor Clutch Bearing [Step By Step Guide]

Safety Measures When Working With AC Compressor

Working with an automotive AC compressor and its parts, particularly the clutch bearing, requires following proper safety protocols. Doing so should help reduce the risks of accidents and injuries before, during, and after the replacement job.

Old repairman repairing air-conditioner at workshop

So, here are some of the preventive measures you need for this procedure:

  • Power down the AC. Ensure that the cooling unit and its components don’t have live circuits, which may otherwise put you at risk of encountering electric shocks.
  • Wait for the AC to cool. Let the cooling system cool down after shutting it off as working with hot components can be hazardous.
  • Always wear protective gear. Goggles and long-sleeved clothing are two examples of safety equipment you should be wearing to prevent direct contact with harmful parts and substances.
  • Consult the manual. Check the AC's owner's manual and the instructions for the equipment you're using to ensure you're using them properly.
  • Remove pieces of jewelry and other accessories. These items might latch onto other objects in the compressor, resulting in additional damage.

Last, turn off the engine and disconnect the battery. That way, there's a minimal risk (if any) for the vehicle's AC to receive electricity from these power sources while you're working on it.

Things You’ll Need

  • Socket set
  • Wrench set
  • Coolant recovery machine
  • Snap ring pliers
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Automotive refrigerant recharge kit

DIY Instructions To Change AC Compressor Clutch Bearing

Close up the mechanic's hand that is giving special tools. Remove the pulley. Repair the air compressor of the car in the garage.

Step #1: Remove The Refrigerant

With the engine off and cold or at normal room temperature, open the hood and locate the AC compressor. Then, release the leftover refrigerant in the compressor by hooking up a coolant recovery machine to the AC system's low-pressure line. Turn on the recovery machine until it siphons all the refrigerant in the system.

Watch this video if you need help with this particular step:

Step #2: Remove The AC Compressor

Remove the fan belt from under the hood and undo the bolts securing the AC compressor. Next, disconnect the refrigerant lines attached to the compressor. Pull out the compressor afterward.

The video below will show you additional insights into this particular step:

Also, read our post on the location of a car’s AC compressor if you’re finding trouble finding this assembly.

Step #3: Remove The Clutch

In certain cars, you only need to remove the bolt securing the clutch. Then, you can remove the clutch without using other tools. However, some vehicles may require you to use a special tool to detach the clutch from the AC compressor.

Step #4: Detach The Old Clutch Bearing

Use the snap ring pliers and remove the snap ring from the old clutch bearing. Separate the clutch bearing from the AC compressor afterward.

Tip: Use a flathead screwdriver or a panel remover to pry the old clutch bearing from the AC compressor. Sometimes you may also need to use a hammer to loosen the old clutch bearing from its installation location. This extra step might help if you’re trying to remove a fairly aged clutch bearing.

Step #5: Install The New Clutch Bearing

Place the new clutch bearing into the same location as the old unit. Tap the new bearing with a hammer until it’s flush with the surrounding parts.

Step #6: Reassemble The Parts

Return the clutch bearing and clutch to the AC compressor, and secure those assemblies. Next, reinstall the AC compressor to the vehicle and secure it in place. Reattach the parts that you removed earlier, including the cooling system’s lines.

Step #7: Recharge The AC System

Connect the automotive refrigerant recharge kit to the AC's low-pressure terminal. Turn on the car’s engine and set the cabin air conditioner to its highest possible settings.

Go back to the vehicle's hood and press the trigger on the recharge kit until the gauge reaches the red zone. Once it does, release the trigger to make the needle in the gauge go down. Repeatedly press the trigger until the gauge’s needle is stable in the ideal zone.

Turn off the AC system once you finish recharging it. Disengage the engine afterward, and remove the recharge kit from the low-pressure terminal.

Turn on your vehicle’s engine again. But this time turn on the AC to check if the new compressor clutch bearing is working as intended.

Check out this replacement clutch bearing on Amazon.

Watch the following video to gain additional insights into this replacement procedure:

Also, watch this clip if you need help with recharging the refrigerant in your car’s AC:

Can I Replace AC Clutch Bearing Without Removing Compressor?

It’s possible to remove the clutch bearing from your car’s AC compressor without removing the entire assembly. However, it can be quite challenging to reach for the fasteners and components while the compressor is still in the vehicle’s hood assembly. So it might still be ideal to remove the compressor and reinstall it to gain easy access to the clutch bearing.

What Are The Signs Of A Bad AC Compressor Clutch Bearing?

checking air compressor of car at service station,car repair.

Take note that AC compressor clutch bearing replacement is a usual requirement if this part becomes bad. Some of the possible symptoms you may experience with your vehicle if its AC compressor clutch bearing is faulty are:

Unknown Racket

Generally, an AC compressor clutch bearing makes a fairly light humming sound while it’s working. But the noise might be louder than normal if the component has faults.

Enhanced Vibrations

Like the humming sound, an AC compressor clutch bearing should vibrate along with the nearby parts. However, if this component is faulty, it may move around its installation location more than usual. If left unchecked, the increased intensity of the vibrations may cause harm to nearby components.


The materials used to create the clutch bearing might be susceptible to corrosion from acids, moisture, and other substances. Also, the likelihood of the clutch bearing corroding might be higher than usual if it gets into contact with chemicals in condensation and broken-down grease.

Is It Worth Replacing AC Compressor Clutch Bearing?

The Front of Two Air Conditioning Compressors

Failure to replace a bad AC compressor clutch bearing may lead to serious problems while using your car’s cooling system. Some of these issues may include:

  • AC may only work for a short period before shutting off
  • Complete AC system failure
  • AC works but loud noises are coming from the vents
  • A weird smell is coming from the cooling unit
  • Incorrect temperature from the climate control system

How Much Does It Cost To Fix AC Compressor Clutch Bearing?

It may only take about $100 to $250 to fix or replace a car’s AC compressor’s clutch bearing. However, the costs may skyrocket if you need to change a worn compressor with a new unit. If so, prepare to spend about $1,200 to replace a bad AC compressor.

Can You Drive A Car With A Broken AC Clutch?

Generally, you can still drive your vehicle even if it has a broken clutch. Your safety, along with the well-being of the passengers and other nearby individuals, may not be at risk if you don’t activate the AC system. But problems and hazard risks may arise if you turn on the AC while you’re driving the car.

Final Thoughts

Remember to follow safety protocols while changing your AC compressor clutch bearing. Take your time while completing each step to prevent accidents, injuries, and expensive mistakes. Let this post be your guide to help you go through this process and complete it successfully.

If you’re looking for answers to other concerns about car ACs, check out these other great posts:

Does AC Compressor Control Heat In Car?

Can A Bad AC Compressor Cause A Car To Stall?

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