Your car's air conditioning system conditions the air, which means whilst cooling the air in your car down, it also helps to ensure there isn't too much moisture in your car, so it stops the air getting too humid. Your car's air conditioning unit also cleans the air in your car by filtering the dust and other particles from the air inside your car.
The aircon compressor, also referred to as the aircon pump, is usually found at the front of the engine, immediately inside the car grill. It looks similar to a small motor with a big wheel on the end of it, which is an electrically operated clutch that turns the compressor on and off when more cool air is required. The aircon compressor is powered by a serpentine belt which is attached to the crankshaft of the car's engine.
The aircon compressor is at the heart of the car's air conditioning system and its role is similar to that of a heart, in that it pumps the refrigerant gas around the closed loop air conditioning system to the aircon condenser. The aircon compressor, therefore, has a vital part to play and if it is damaged or faulty the entire air conditioning system will suffer. The aircon compressor works by using heat from the air in the car, pressurising it into hot gas and then pumping it into the aircon condenser, where it is cooled and then pumped into the aircon evaporator and flows into the car as cold air. This whole process is then repeated over and again.
Problems can, of course, occur with the aircon compresso. At worst, it can blow up as a result of high pressure or if there is not enough refrigerant vapour circulating, but this is rare. A leak in the aircon compressor will mean you're losing refrigerant and will need to be addressed. The motor can be prone to overheating if the air conditioning system has not been fitted properly, for example, which can cause damage to the compressor. If the aircon system isn't producing any cold air at all, then it is likely to be a broken compressor or a slipping compressor clutch. A slipping compressor clutch can also be the cause of insufficient cold air. If you are having problems like this with the air conditioning in your car, it is a good idea to talk with your mechanic as you may need a new aircon compressor.