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My Car Overheats When AC Is On: What Should I Do?

car overheats when AC is on

Cars can overheat in many ways. It can be due to a faulty engine component, a burning part, or it can even be your car’s air conditioner. Overheating is a serious problem that must be addressed.

Thus, the next time your car overheats when AC is on, immediately stop your car and shut the engine off should make this happen. Several culprits cause this problem, so stay tuned to learn more!

What Could Be Wrong With Your Car?

A well-oiled vehicle that’s overheating might be confusing for many drivers. Usually, we have a common misconception that an overheating is a sign of aging due to its internal components being worn out.

However, what if everything seems to be going well with your vehicle except when the air conditioner is on? The fans and other ventilations work well, while the anti-freeze air pocket features are recently cleaned. Furthermore, your radiator is functioning normally, and not a spec of it seems defective.

If you think your car is functioning properly in other departments, this means that the air conditioner is at fault. While the air conditioner per se is not exactly at the blame, its subcomponents could be.

One of the first things that professional car repair shops would check is the air conditioner compressor. The compressor is failing should your car heat up when the aircon is on.

A faulty air conditioner compressor

car air conditioning circle turning controller switch

For starters, a bad air conditioner compressor will immediately mean a faulty air conditioning system in your car. It’s the most important component of this system because of it keeps the refrigerant flow. The regulation of flow along with the rising and lowering of coolant temperature are the primary functions of the compressor.

However, it’s important to remember that at this stage, nothing is wrong with your air conditioner. If your cooling system is unaffected, then this means the compressor is not exactly broken with regards to the flow of refrigerant. Instead, it could be facing difficulties in its mechanical operation.

The compressor rotates whenever you turn on the engine. It’s part of its feature which goes through an on and off cycle. When it comes to a faulty compressor, the science is simple: it’s just friction.

Since the compressor rotates, an old and dull compressor can increase the rotational load that your engine receives. Remember, there are dozens of moving and rotating engine parts, which is why engine coolants are so important.

Should the compressor be old, it will more likely increase the chances of it grinding against the engine. As the compressor gets harder the turn, the more it will force its way through. Thus, this forced friction is one of the causes of overheating.

A bad cooling system

Now that we’ve discussed the effects of a compressor, we can turn our attention to something bigger. The cooling system in your car has many implications should it go bad. One of these effects can be overheating the vehicle.

Again, the air conditioning system’s components can be the culprit here. This may start with the condenser. Air condition condensers in cars don’t differ to that of household units. The aircon condenser is tasked to transfer heat and “condense” its substance by cooling it.

Of course, a defective condenser will only mean one thing, and that’s a lack of cooling. Thus, if the condenser is broken, it will heat up instead of cooling it. This will lead to added heat that your engine does not need.

Defective fan clutch

fan clutch

Other parts of the car that can cause overheat are the water pumps, fan clutch, and the radiator’s condenser fins.

The fan clutch is located right in front of the radiator upon inspecting the engine. A fan clutch functions by engaging and disengaging with the radiator depending on the temperature. To not confuse you, it acts as a sort of a safety net.

If the engine is cold and normal, it will disengage from the radiator and will provide minimum fanning. However, it will fully engage with the radiator if the engine rises above average temperature. This means that the radiator needs extra support, which this fan provides.

If your car’s radiator isn’t getting the help it needs, then this means that the fan is as bad as junk. You can notice a bad fan clutch if it’s making weird noises while the air conditioner is running.

Broken water pump

Lastly, the water pump is another component that is susceptible to defect. The primary purpose of this device is to distribute coolant throughout the engine through the radiator. Hence, it’s easy to point the water pump as a possible cause for overheating.

The water pump is located under the timing belt cover in the engine. It isn’t exactly easy to access, which is why you can overlook this problem when doing an eye test. The water pump works by being driven by the engine drive belt. The pump has blades, which then pushes the coolant towards the engine.

What Should I Do to Fix This?

As car owners, it’s important to remember that the parts we discussed above are bound to get broken. Components in your vehicle, especially in the engine, don’t last forever. Thus, it’s okay to have a defective water pump, compressor, and fan clutch as long as your car is getting old.

With that said, there’s only one way to fix these problems both in the short and long-term. The only method is replacing the components. Devices such as the water pump and condenser have only one function.

Should this break, then any remedy will not be enough. You’re better off replacing the parts instead of doing any DIY repairs. It may be costly, but remember, the engine environment, in general, is prone to a lot of wear and tear. You’ll save a lot more by replacing a broken part instead of risking the motor’s overall health.

So there you have it, folks, the most important thing here is to find out which parts are faulty. Once you pinpointed it, all you need to do disengage it and replace it with a new one. Feel free to leave a comment below, and don’t forget to share!

Steven K. Galloway