In the sweltering heat of summer, air conditioning is an absolute must, especially on road trips or long commutes. Despite the excellent engineering that goes into Volvos, they sometimes have air conditioning problems that might leave you stranded on 90° days with no cool breeze to keep you from breaking a sweat.
In order to understand why your Volvo’s air conditioning is malfunctioning, it’s important to understand the function of an AC compressor. Knowing exactly how and why your AC compressor is acting up makes it so much easier for you and your automotive repair shop to fix the problem so you can enjoy the cool blast of your air conditioner once more.
Signs that Your Compressor is Broken
The AC compressor is the most important part of any vehicular air conditioning system. It’s called a compressor because it puts high pressure on the refrigerant in the system, allowing the AC to blow cold air. If your air conditioner blows warm air, or intermittently blows cold and warm air, that’s a sure sign that your compressor is causing the problem.
If you turn the AC on and your engine idle speed or RPM doesn’t drop slightly, that’s another sign that your compressor might be malfunctioning. Finally, if your compressor makes loud shrieking or grinding noises every time you turn on the AC, that’s an obvious sign that you need to get it checked out. If your car has more than 60,000 miles on it, you’re more likely to experience compressor failure.
Driving with a failed air compressor isn’t dangerous, so you don’t need to worry about your safety if you suspect that your AC compressor is broken. However, it is a good idea to get it fixed for your own comfort, especially if you live in a hot climate.
How to Prolong the Longevity of Your Compressor
If you’ve owned your Volvo for many years, a worn-out compressor is almost inevitable. However, there are ways to extend the life of your compressor so you don’t have to get it fixed or replaced so soon.
Once every month, even in the winter, it’s a good idea to run your compressor for about 10 minutes to prevent it from stagnating. This is pretty easy to do if you own a more modern model of car, since most newer cars also use the AC compressor to run their defrost system. If you take care to follow this tip, your AC compressor could function properly for as long as 8-12 years, which is also the typical lifespan of a car.
Intermittent Air Conditioning
If the AC in your Volvo stops functioning properly after a short period of time and refuses to work again until you let it rest for a while, your compressor clutch might be worn or abraded. Every time you turn on the AC, the compressor clutch repeatedly switches between engagement and disengagement, a feature that’s supposed to stop it from burning itself out too quickly. However, this repeated friction wears the clutch down, preventing it from engaging properly at all.
Combined with the summer heat, all this friction and abrasion causes your compressor clutch to slip out of position, which is why your air conditioning seems to randomly stop working. At first, if the clutch is only mildly abraded, you might be able to get 30-45 minutes of continuous AC use before the unit starts blowing hot air. As the clutch wears down more and more, the window of time in which your AC functions correctly will start to shrink.
How Orion Automotive Services Can Help
Orion Automotive Services is the place to go for comprehensive, expert care of your European car. Car owners from all over the Ann Arbor, MI area come to us because they know they can trust our friendly, experienced, technicians to keep their cars performing at their peak.
Orion Auto has been servicing Volvos since 1992, giving us over 20 years of experience. Our factory-trained, Volvo certified service tech has the expertise to tackle any and all problems with your Volvo, including a broken AC compressor clutch. You can rest assured that your Volvo is in good hands. Don’t let your Volvo’s malfunctioning air conditioner ruin your summer. Head on down to Orion Automotive Services in Ann Arbor and let us take care of your Volvo!