My car's air conditioning keeps cutting out.

My car’s air conditioning is acting up. The fan keeps blowing air, but it suddenly stops being refrigerated air. Sometimes it starts being cold air again by itself. Sometimes I can get it to become cold air again by switching the system on and off several times.

I’m not looking to repair this myself, I’d just like to have a little knowledge before I take it to the shop.

It’s hard to say. There are a lot of things that can cause the A/C to stop getting cold.

You could be low on refrigerant. This could mean a small leak somewhere in the system.

You could have a problem with either the compressor or the compressor clutch. The compressor itself is a bit pricey. If the clutch is just failing to engage a new clutch isn’t all that much, and if it’s just a corroded connection to the clutch then it’s no big deal at all. So a compressor problem could be one of the most expensive types of repairs or no big deal at all or somewhere in between.

It could also be a faulty sensor that makes the system think that it doesn’t have enough refrigerant even though it does. This is a fairly cheap repair.

ETA: Make and model of car? Perhaps one of our resident car dopers could tell you what is most likely based on their experience.


It’s a 2004 Honda Accord.

I shoulda’ said so in the OP.

It this happens while you are not moving it is likely the A/C heat exchanger (think radiator) is full of gunk and grime. Look for a radiator like device below or in front of you engine’s radiator. If it is dirty, especially if it is oily, get some cleaner like Simple Green and spray it on while it is cold, then hose it off and you will be amazed at the difference.

No, it happens when I’m moving along but I’ll look for the heat exchanger anyway.

I had the exact same symptoms on my Subaru, turned out to be the A/C clutch.

Is your fan working on all four settings? My Accord ('02) is doing the same thing. The message board I read said to check the fan resistor first. My fan is only running on 2 settings.

Now I suspect, due to age, it might be the refrigerant level but when I get time I’m going to change the resistor first. It’s under the right side dash (I think, I may be thinking of my son’s Vibe) but I had to solder the lead’s connection when I first got the car.

I haven’t had time to change it AND it’s motorcycle season anyway :slight_smile:

The AC won’t run if the fan is turned off. The brush on the fan speed switch that lets the ac know the fan is on could be failing. That happened on my old 2002 malibu. By working the fan speed knob the ac would come back on. Try pushing the fan speed knob in when you turn it.