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The Auto A/C Compressor Clutch
Q: The A/C Clutch will not engage. What could the problem be?
A: There are several different reasons why the A/C compressor clutch does not engage when you turn the A/C system on. Typically, the most common problems are:
1- Low refrigerant prevents the cycling switch from engaging the compressor. That's because it's acting as a safety for the compressor. This can be tested by jumping the switch. Also check system pressures. Low refrigerant pressures would indicate the charge is low and the system will have to be leak tested and recharged to fix the problem.

2-  Clutch coils can also fail. The coil is what creates the magnetic field to 'pull' the clutch hub into the pulley, engaging the clutch. The coil can be tested using an Ohm meter to assure continuity.

3- Air Gap; That's the distance between the front hub and the pulley. Typically, it should be about .025" or about the thickness of a business card. When the air gap is too wide, the magnetic field is not strong enough to pull the hub in. The clutch air gap can be adjusted (usually on the vehicle). Also see 'clutch slipping' below.

4- Not enough voltage; the clutch requires a full 12 volts in order to create the required magnetic field. When contacts and connections are corroded, there may be a drop in voltage. Check voltage at the clutch to assure proper voltage is present.

Note that these are the most common reasons why the A/C compressor clutch does not engage. Other electrical problems (ie.: control head, relays, etc.) will require a wiring diagram for diagnosis.


 

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Our list of FAQ's is growing, so please visit back often. If you can't find the right answer here, visit the auto A/C help and discussion board at the COOL ZONE. You'll get all the right answers to your questions about troubleshooting and diagnosing auto A/C systems.

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