Car AC Compressor Parts, Types, and Their Functions Explained

AC compressor is the power unit of the air conditioning system in a car that compresses the AC refrigerant before transporting it to the condenser, which changes it from gas to liquid. The overall air conditioning system will be reduced without a good functioning compressor.

The AC compressor connects to the engine power via a serpentine belt. The belt connects the compressor pulley to the engine pulley, enabling it to spin along with the engine pulley.

This article will outline car AC compressor parts and explain their functions. But first, let’s see the types of car AC compressors and how they work.

ac compressor parts name

Types of car ac compressor

The common purpose of AC compressors is to compress and transport refrigerant to other AC system components for cooling purposes. Since there are multiple ways to compress the gas, we have different types of car AC compressors. The three common AC compressors are scroll, rotary, and variable displacement compressors.

Scroll Compressors

A scroll compressor consists of two spiral disks of different heights, with the taller disk covering, the shorter one. The short disk rotates inside the tall one while compressing the refrigerant. The tall disk, on the other hand, remains stationary. The short disk forms sealed-off areas as it rotates inside the tall disk.

As the scrolls suck refrigerant, the sealed-off areas trap some of the refrigerants. The short disk pushes the refrigerant to the center of the scroll while compressing the gas in the process. Finally, the compressor exports the compressed refrigerant to the condenser via an outer pipe along the tall disk.

Rotary compressor

The rotary compressors compress and transfer refrigerant using roller/cylindrical devices. The roller mechanism spins inside a cylindrical compartment that is divided into two parts with a blade.

In this type, as the roller spins inside the cylindrical compartments, it builds enough pressure that compresses the refrigerant. Then, the compressor exports the compressed gas through the other side of the compartment.

Variable displacement compressors

This is also known as a reciprocating ac compressor. The compressor uses a piston/cylinder mechanism to compress and transfer gas. As the pistons move up and down, it creates enough pressure to suck, compress and transfer the refrigerant into other ac system components.

Like other car system components, the ac compressor can fail and needs repair or replacement. However, you’ll notice some lousy ac compressor symptoms before the component fails completely.

Since the compressor is made of different parts, one of the parts may fail while the other parts are still intact. If this is the case, you have to replace that part. Let’s look at car AC compressor parts names and how they work.

Car ac compressor parts name

As the power unit of the entire air conditioning system, the car AC compressor comprises several system components. Here are the various car AC compressor spare parts you should know.

Compressor pulley

The compressor pulley, also known as the AC pulley, is attached to the front end of the compressor. It connects the ac compressor to the engine pulley via a serpentine belt. As the engine rotates, the pulley rotates along with it. However, this doesn’t mean the compressor is working as long as the engine is running.

The pulley is connected to an electronic clutch that lets it rotate freely when the compressor is not running. But, once you turn on the air conditioning system from the climate control switch inside the cabin, the AC clutch engages with the pulley and allows it to drive the compressor.

Compressor clutch

Another essential car AC compressor part is the clutch. The compressor clutch is an electro-mechanical or electromagnetic component. This means it is driven by electricity and enables mechanical torque transfers. The primary function of the clutch is to let the compressor pulley rotate freely along with the engine pulley without engaging the compressor.

As reiterated above, once you switch on the AC, the clutch receives an electric signal to activate and connect the compressor pulley and pump.

Compressor pistons

The compressor pistons move up and down as the clutch drives the amateur. The piston’s movements allow the refrigerant through and out of the system. In addition, the pistons move in sequential order, meaning that they do not move at the same time or like the traditional internal combustion engine’s pistons.

Compressor valves

The compressor valves are a bunch of plates inside the compressor. This car ac internal compressor parts open and close, allowing the refrigerant to pass through, depending on the position of the compressor pistons.

Compressor Shaft

The compressor shaft spins along with the clutch. As the shaft rotates, it pushes the pistons up and down. And, as the pistons move up and down, one end of a piston will suck in low-pressure vapor, and the other end will push out high-pressure vapor. The other pistons repeat the same cycle.

Compressor swash plate

A swash plate is a rotating device that allows the pistons to move in sequential order. It is an elliptical plate mounted on the compressor shaft angle relative to the piston axis.

Inlet and outlet pipes

The inlet and outlet ports are where low-pressure gas and high-pressure gas pass through. These ports are connected to the low and high-pressure lines in the engine bay for the refrigerant to pass through other ac system components.

All these components should be in good condition for the compressor to function correctly. If any of these components fail, it’ll cause car ac compressor problems that require repairing or replacing the compressor. If you decide to replace a lousy ac compressor instead of repairing it, you’ll need a compressor buying guide to help you get the right part for your car.

Final Words

You should have been all clear regarding what are the parts of an ac compressor. All the car AC compressor parts play their essential roles in the overall air conditioning system operation. As the heart of the system, the compressor should always be in good condition.

However, all ac system issues do not mean you have a malfunctioning ac compressor. For example, if your ac is not blowing cool air, you may need to recharge the ac system. Therefore, visit your mechanic whenever your air conditioner starts malfunctioning.

But if you’re sure the compressor is the leading cause, search for “car AC compressor rebuild near me” to have them rebuild it or get a replacement.


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