AC Compressor Cycles On And Off Every Few Seconds

AC Compressor Cycles On And Off Every Few Seconds

A car AC system is responsible for giving you a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere in your vehicle while driving.

However, sometimes you might experience a different scenario when the AC compressor behaves abnormally. For instance, the compressor turns on and off every few seconds.

AC Compressor Cycles on and off every Few Seconds

It can be overwhelming when you drive on a hot day and your AC fails to function correctly.

The only way to fix this issue is by first identifying its cause. Therefore, we will look at why your car’s AC behaves this way and how you can solve it.

So, let’s dive in.

Reasons Why Your AC Compressor Cycles On And Off Every Second

Short Cycling

Your air conditioner plays a significant role in your car as it uses refrigerant to absorb heat and transfers that heat out as cool air through a process.

On the other hand, the compressor condenses and circulates the refrigerant through the condenser and different components of the AC system.

So, when you turn the compressor on, the cooling cycle begins.

How does short-cycling occur? It happens when the cooling process becomes shorter than the expected time.

Hence, causing the compressor to turn on and off every few seconds. You might start experiencing discomfort in the cabin as cool air is not supplied efficiently.

Leaking Refrigerant

Refrigerant leaks contain hazardous chemicals which may damage your car’s engine when left unaddressed.

Therefore, if you notice something leaking while driving, you can check if it’s coming from the AC system.

A standard AC compressor cycle is between 4-10 seconds, and then it should cycle off for 15-20 seconds on average.

However, the cycle time may vary as a car AC compressor should cycle at no exact value.

So, the temperature in your cabin and the thermostat’s temperature difference may make it switch to a different cycle time.

Your AC compressor will rapidly cycle on and shut off when the refrigerant leaks. The condition may result from the wear and tear of rubber parts in the system.

So, it will eventually crack and leak out the refrigerant.

Improper Refrigerant Charge

Your car air condition system needs to be appropriately charged after a specific time. Recharging aids the cooling process within the closed circuit.

So, to maintain an average circulation of cool air inside your car, ensure that there is sufficient refrigerant.

Does your car AC system keep cycling on and off every second? The chances are high that the refrigerant is overcharged.

This condition occurs because it damages its internal components when a system is charged with too much refrigerant.

Therefore, this may affect the cold air circulation, turning on and off rapidly.

On the other hand, the little refrigerant may cause this problem as the system has its standard amount of refrigerant it should be recharged.

During this situation, air tends to block return filters due to low charge. Thus, breaking down or cycling on and off whenever you turn it on.

Damaged Compressor Clutch

A compressor clutch is found in the air conditioning system of your car that helps in blowing cool air in the cabin.

When the clutch breaks, it prevents the AC compressor from maintaining a steady pressure. Hence, failing to control the correct refrigerant flow in the AC system.

A Clogged Expansion Valve

The AC might behave unusually if the expansion valve has clogged.

There will be no efficient circulation of cool air as the little refrigerant that passes through it increases the pressure in the system.

So, when this happens, it results in overheating of the compressor.

Impurities and dirt are the primary cause of this blockage in the loop. So, when the valve is clogged, the AC will fail to function well, which causes overheating.

Eventually, the system will not supply cool air adequately, and you might notice it turning on and off rapidly.

Causes Of AC Compressor Cycling on and off every Few Seconds

Solutions To AC Compressor Cycling Problems

Short Cycling Solution

First, you should check your control switch. If its pressure is low, consider replacing it.

Ensure To Charge Your Air Conditioner Refrigerant Properly

Charging the car air conditioner compressor with a low or too much refrigerant will affect the AC system.

So to prevent this, always ensure that its level does not extend to the standard level.

Replace A Damaged Compressor With A New One

The repair will depend on the extent to which the compressor is damaged. Therefore, if the damage is not mild, a simple repair will get it back to functioning well.

However, if the compressor is in a bad state, it might need replacement.

Using A Coolant Flush

This product will save you the cost of taking your car for repairs as you will flush the AC system to remove the impurities.

So, in case the AC turns on and off after every second, use a coolant flush to clean the contaminated system.

If you don’t know how to use it, use the instructions attached with the can to help you with the process.

Check The Wiring Leading To The AC Compressor

If the clutch is damaged, your AC system may fail to function correctly. Therefore, you need to replace it before it causes more damage.

Consider taking the car to a professional mechanic to ensure the replacement is done perfectly.

Buy The Correct Type Of Refrigerant For Your Car

If you want to know the proper refrigerant to use for your vehicle, always check the year it was made.

Generally, for cars produced after 1995, the appropriate refrigerant is R134a.

Therefore, if your vehicle was built after this year, the suitable refrigerant to use is R12.

Use A Clean Piece Of Cloth To Clean The Area Around The Service Port

Apart from a coolant flush, you can clean rags to clean the clogs. Wipe off the dirt carefully, ensuring you don’t leave any dust on the surface.

Cleaning using a clean cloth is the simplest method of unclogging the part as you don’t need to buy the spray cleaner.

Check If There Is An Electric Control Fault

To solve this issue, you must first investigate if the electric control is working or not. Check whether the compressor is still running when the cycle turns off.

Also, if the AC light is on, you shouldn’t shut it as pressure needs to equalize within 35 seconds.

Book An Appointment With A Qualified Technician To Check Your Car

It is the best way of handling a car ac compressor problem, especially if you don’t have the appropriate skills to do all the replacement processes.

So, always take your vehicle for repair whenever you notice a faulty component in your car compressor system.

You wouldn’t want to damage your car while repairing it yourself, and don’t incur more costs for replacement. Instead, seek help from the appropriate experts.


There are many reasons why your car AC compressor keeps on turning on every second, including leaking refrigerant.

As mentioned earlier, the other cause of this issue is short cycling and improper refrigerant charges.

You should always find the best solutions to these problems before the car is damaged severely; you can consider the above options you have come across.