If your vehicle's air conditioner is having problems with continually producing cold air, or if turning on the system results in strange noises coming out from under the hood, then you should suspect a problem with the air conditioner's compressor. To diagnose a compressor problem in any passenger car or truck, follow these three simple steps:
Step 1: Inspect the Air Conditioning System with the Car Turned Off
When your car is cold and before you turn it on, pop the hood and inspect the air conditioner's condenser and its pulley.
Try moving the pulley perpendicular to the serpentine belt and ensure it doesn't have any play in it. If the pulley moves, then it is the cause of the problem and should be tightened or replaced.
Take a look a the compressor's housing and make sure there are no cracks or obvious damage indicating it has failed. If it's damaged, have it replaced by a licensed auto mechanic.
Step 2: Inspect the System with the Car Turned On and the Air Conditioner Turned Off
If there are no obvious problems under the hood, then turn on the car with the air conditioning system turned off.
Watch the rotation of the serpentine belt and listen for sounds coming from the air conditioner's pulley. If you hear any squealing or gravely sounds coming from the pulley, then its internal sealed bearings have failed and need to be replaced.
Step 3: Inspect the Compressor While the Air Conditioner is Operating
If the condenser's pulley appears fine and isn't making any noise, then turn on the air conditioner and go listen again. If you hear noises coming from inside of the condenser, then the internal bearings have failed and the condenser needs to be replaced. This must be done by a licensed mechanic, because the gases in the system are under pressure and can cause serious injuries if not correctly released.
If you do not hear any sounds, then check to see if the condenser's clutch has engaged. The compressor's clutch is located on the outside of the pulley. If it doesn't move to engage when you turn on the air conditioning system, then the clutch has failed.
If the clutch is bad and needs replacement, thankfully, you can replace just that one part, and it is much less expensive than replacing the entire compressor because it can be done without recharging the system.
For more help, get in touch with a company like Import Auto Maintenance.