How Often Should A Car AC Compressor Cycle On And Off: The Truth

The Truth About How Often Should A Car AC Compressor Cycle On And Off 

The question, “how often should a car AC compressor cycle on and off?” is one that concerns everyone, whether you have a car or not.

You might have noticed your car AC compressor short cycling, that is, go on and off. This process doesn’t signify that the car AC is faulty. It’s a normal working process for the AC compressor.

However, finding your AC compressor working non-stop should be more of a concern to you. This can overwork the system and cause it to develop a fault that would eventually require the intervention of an HVAC technician.

Alright, so here is the crucial question below.

How often should my Car AC compressor cycle on and off when in use?

First off, understand that an AC cycle indicates when the unit is working to keep your car cool.  

If your car’s air conditioner compressor is working fine, it should cycle 15 to 20 minutes, at most two to three times within an hour. 

However, you should expect a higher running time when the temperature is much higher. 

Keep reading as we discuss more on car AC compressors.

Why You Should Constantly Put Your Car AC Compressor To Work 

The winter period is when you may likely experience less use of the air conditioners in cars. It’s usually cold outside, though the coldness varies from one day to another.

However, running an AC in the winter months when almost everywhere is littered with snow and you’re dealing with near-freezing temperature won’t appeal to most people.

The use of Car AC shouldn’t be in the summer period alone. Besides, turning your AC on during the winter months won’t damage it.

There are considerable benefits to running your car AC in the winter months. Check them out below.

The health of the car AC compressor: 

We know the compressor helps in cooling the air before allowing it to pass through the car. But keep in mind that it does more than this.

You can tweak the heat setting of your car AC to control the climate within your car, with the windows shutdown.

By so doing, you will not only be dehumidifying the air. You won’t be dealing with foggy windows.

Running your car air conditioner during the winter period can also help you clear up window condensation, so you can see incoming vehicles and pedestrians clearly while driving your car.

Early detection of AC problem:

It is risky to drive around in the winter months not knowing you have a faulty air conditioner. When the summer month finally starts, you will be driving around town all sweaty and looking for how to fix your AC.

You can detect if there’s a problem with your AC earlier in the winter months and get an HVAC technician to fix it for you. If the solution involved installing a new air conditioner, you can take your time to stump up the cash during the winter period, before summer kicks in.

Preserves the air cooling system:

Keeping your car’s air-conditioner idle for too long isn’t a good idea. It would be best to use the air conditioner frequently, even during the winter months to prevent wasting.

What happens when you don’t use your air conditioner for an extended period? It’s simple. There could be a devastating loss of the refrigerant.

So, use your air conditioner regularly to prevent this from happening. Making use of your car’s air conditioner can help to up its service life.

What this means is you won’t be visiting an HVAC technician anytime soon. And as you know, such repairs can be quite expensive.

Note –You don’t have to turn on your air conditioner all day during the winter to up its service life. As little as 30 minutes of warm-up weekly can do the trick. It will cause fluid to flow in the AC compressor and keep the various parts of the AC active.

You will be able to detect a fault with your AC with such weekly warming up and put it in good shape before the scorching heat of the summer period arrives.

How A Car AC Compressor Works

The compressor is a crucial part of a car’s air conditioner system. Without it, an air conditioner won’t cool up your car or work as intended.

So, how does the air conditional compressor work? When turned on, the compressor heats the AC’s refrigerant, which is a unique fluid mixture.

This action by the compressor results in the heating up and compression of the refrigerant. The hot refrigerant is then sent to the AC’s condenser to start the cooling down process.

In order to remove the contaminant, the refrigerant is passed through a unique dryer. After purification, this compressed refrigerant then moves through the expanded valve, causing it to lose pressure.

Once the refrigerant makes it past the evaporator, it becomes dry, cold, and super clean.

For you to experience the cold air that blows out of the car’s air conditioner, the air is made to pass through the newly dry, cold, and clean refrigerant into the compressor tank. There it cools down and then comes out via the blowers.

What Causes Car AC Compressor To Work Non-stop

It’s a normal thing for a car AC compressor to short cycle. That’s not an indication that the compressor or other components of the air conditioner are faulty.

You can consider it abnormal or a sign that the air conditioner compressor is faulty when it runs non-stop.

So, what could cause an air conditioner to run non-stop?

Reduced levels of the refrigerants:

One of the things that can make it difficult for your air conditioner to cool your car or work properly is when the refrigerant level is low.

The low level can be caused by anything. It can be due to leakage in the coil. It can also diminish on its own.

With a low refrigerant level, the compressor would still be functional. But this time, it would have to work much harder to cool down your car’s temperature.

An HVAC technician can solve this problem, anyway. He or she needs to find the leakage and fix it, and then return the refrigerant to its acceptable level so the compressor can work smoothly.

Dirt and debris on the evaporator coil:

Is your evaporator coil covered in debris and dirt? Then that could be the reason your car’s AC compressor isn’t delivering the expected output.

Debris and dirt on the evaporator coil can impede the drying process and make it difficult for the system to cool down your car’s temperature.

When your evaporator coil is covered in dirt, the compressor is automatically made to work even harder to keep the environment cool.

Again, fixing this problem requires the expertise of an HVAC technician.

Auto-climate setting:

Your auto-climate setting could be another reason your compressor keeps running non-stop. It doesn’t matter the season you’re in, whether winter or summer.

So, if your AC compressor keeps running and doesn’t short cycle, check if you have turned on the auto-climate feature. If you didn’t, then other factors mentioned here might be the reason.


So, how long should a car AC compressor cycle on and off while in use? You should be familiar with the answer by now after reading this post.

Car AC compressor comes designed to short cycle. That’s how it operates. So, if your car AC compressor keeps coming on and off after it has been turned on, then you have no reason to feel worried.

We hope you found this information useful. Thank you for stopping by!

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