Most people notice that their car surges at idle when the car AC is turned ON, and at the end, the engine shuts OFF. It happens due to many reasons, but it is preferred to know the reasons why the car shuts off when the AC is turned ON.
If your car shuts off when you turn on the AC, you’re not alone. Many car owners have experienced this problem and have had to take their car to a mechanic to get it fixed. This is a frustrating experience, especially on a hot day. There are a few reasons why this might happen. In this powerful guide, you will learn seven crazy reasons why the car shuts OFF when AC is turned ON.
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What Is The Air Conditioning System In A Car
The air conditioning system of a car is composed of several interrelated components that allow the vehicle to regulate its climate control. It typically includes an evaporator, condenser, compressor, and expansion valve, as well as other related elements such as accumulators and blower fans. The evaporator works to cool the air inside the car by extracting heat from it, while the condenser is responsible for dissipating this heat away from the cabin.
Car Shuts OFF When AC Is Turned ON
Many car owners notice when they turn ON the air conditioner, the engine starts to hesitate or shake or we can say vibrate, and sometimes the car stalls (which means shuts off). This is a very common problem that happens in a car when the ac is turned on.
In simple words, I want to help you understand. The car shuts off when the AC is turned ON, which means that the load on the engine is High and the power produced by the engine is Low. Here I am breaking down the topic in simple words. It is a fascinating topic, just stick with me.
As you know, AC is a huge energy sucker. It consumes a lot of energy when it is turned ON and on the other hand, if the engine can not produce more energy, then the engine will jerk/hesitate and finally will shut OFF. The engine compensates for the lack of power through an idle air control valve mechanism to increase its power and speed.
The car manufacturer introduces the valve “Idle air control valve” in a manually operated throttle body to compensate for power. But, the important question is what the meaning of idle is? Here is the definition of the term “Idle”.
When the engine is running and the car is not moving, we call it the engine is in Idle Mode. Normally the car’s Idle RPM is from 600 to 1000 RPM depending upon the car and outside temperature. At this RPM, the engine produces enough amount of power to stand smoothly without stalling.
Whenever a load is put on the engine such as turning ON the lights or turning ON the AC, it sucks a lot of power and the engine can not produce more power at the same RPM. It must increase its RPM to generate more power and stand smoothly.
According to the research, the Air Conditioner causes about a 30-40% average decrease in driving range in Hybrid Electric vehicles.
Now come to the “Idle air control valve (IAC)”.This valve increases and decreases the air-fuel ratio to regulate engine idle RPM. When the AC is turned ON, the valve opens to flow more air into the engine, increases Its Idle RPM, and also produces more power and vice versa. So, when carbon builds on the “Idle Air Control Valve (IAC)”, it will fail to maintain proper idle, and as a result, the car surges and shuts OFF when the load is put.
Sometimes a defective “Idle Air Control Valve (IAC)” or “Electronically Controlled Throttle Body” will send wrong input data to the ECM. The ECM miscalculates the input which leads to a bump in the idle speed and activates the car stumbling.
So, clean the “Idle Air Control Valve (IAC)” and “Electronic Control Throttle Body” with a soft cleaning cloth dipped in a solvent or do a regular tune-up.
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7 Crazy Reasons Car Stalls When AC Is ON
Below are the seven reasons why the car shuts OFF when the AC is turned ON.
- Faulty Idle Air Control Valve
- Bad Electronic Controlled Throttle Body
- Seized Compressor
- Stuck Compressor Pulley
- Worn Belt
- Overfilled With AC Refrigerant
- An Electrical Problem
1. Faulty Idle Air Control Valve
This is the most common reason the engine dies when AC is turned ON. The idle Air Control Valve increases and decreases the engine RPM not to shut off the engine when a load is put on the car.
With time the carbon builds up on the idle control valve, through which it cannot perform well. As a result, the engine RPM fluctuates up and down and finally, shuts off. So, clean the “Idle Air Control Valve (IAC)” with a soft cleaning cloth dipped in a solvent.
2. Bad Electronic Controlled Throttle Body
The electronically controlled throttle body is also a common reason the engine dies when the AC is turned ON. Modern vehicles do not have an “Idle Air Control Valve”, they have an Electronic Controlled Throttle Body also called Drive by Wire. It takes a signal from ECM.
The same phenomena can happen with Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) Body. If carbon builds on it, It will restrict the passageway for more air to enter and as a result, the car stumbles. So, do a regular tune-up to clean your car’s electronic throttle control body.
3. Seized Compressor
The compressor is an expensive reason for a car to shut OFF the engine when AC is turned ON. The seized AC compressor causes the car to stall.
The compressor squeezes the refrigerant under high pressure and uses the power of almost 5 to 10 horsepower. It is enough amount of energy to drop down the RPM.
Sometimes, your compressor may be seized due to a jammed bearing, which takes too much effort to rotate against the belt causing surges, and finally, the car shuts off. You have no option other than to replace the compressor.
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4. Stuck Compressor Pulley
Often a compressor is in good condition but its pulley bearing is stuck. This stuck pulley bearing drags against the belt and becomes very stiff to rotate the compressor is. And put too much strain on the engine, which leads to the car jerking and stalling.
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5. A Worn Belt
The drive belt rotates the compressor. When a compressor is turned ON, the engine RPM decreases. A worn drive belt with compressor ON will slip causing a fluctuation in RPM. This increase and decrease in RPM are known as car surges or hesitations, which leads to shutting OFF the car.
6. Overfilled With AC Refrigerant
This is another reason for the car dying when AC is turned ON. The refrigerant in the AC system should be neither high nor low in amount. It must be in the right quantity. AC system with overfilled refrigerant causes overpressure on the engine and forces the car to stumble when AC is turned ON.
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7. An Electrical Problem
An electrical problem is also the most common reason a car shuts OFF when AC is turned ON. Often the car surges due to electrical problems. Make sure you don’t have a loose fuse in the fuse box or a corroded relay.
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How To Stop Your Car AC Compressor ShutDowns!
- Check the engine idle speed. Reset the idle speed if necessary. If the idle speed is too low, it could be a sign that the idle air control valve is not working properly. It is the number one reason your car struggles to accelerate when ac is on.
- Inspect the air filter and air intake system to make sure they are not clogged or dirty. A clogged air filter will not let enough air mix with fuel and properly ignite in the engine combustion chamber, as a result, the car struggles to start when ac is on.
- Check the idle air control valve for any signs of damage or debris. It is important to note that any debris found near the valve can potentially act as an impediment to smooth functioning, leading to an inefficient operation of the entire system.
- Test the idle air control valve to see if it is working properly. This can be done by carefully inspecting the valve for any visible signs of wear or contamination.
- Replace the idle air control valve if it is faulty or damaged. Failure to do so could result in a variety of adverse outcomes, such as inconsistent engine performance, increased emissions, and problems with the AC system.
- Check the vacuum hoses for any signs of wear or damage. It is important to inspect the vacuum hoses for any signs of deterioration or damage that may have occurred throughout their use.
- Inspect the throttle body and electronic throttle control for any signs of wear or damage. This diagnostic process involves an analysis of the components for any visible signs of wear or damage, such as cracking, discoloration, or corrosion.
- Clean the throttle body and electronic throttle control. It is necessary for your engine to produce power to run the compressor, a malfunctioning compressor can kill the engine.
- Make sure the AC system is functioning properly and that no components are damaged. A thorough assessment of the AC system should be conducted to ascertain its proper functioning, as any malfunction could cause a disruption in cooling and lead to further damage.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The short answer is Yes, The AC compressor affects the engine. The compressor is the heart of the air conditioning system, and it has a direct impact on engine performance. The compressor circulates refrigerant throughout the system, and it helps to cool and pressurize the refrigerant.
The AC compressor is driven by a belt connected to the engine crankshaft. When the AC is turned on, the compressor puts an extra load on the engine, which can slightly reduce fuel economy and increase emissions. In addition, If the compressor is not operating properly, it can cause the engine to overheat, and it can also affect the performance of the air conditioning system.
A bad or seized AC compressor can cause a car to stall if the compressor is not functioning properly. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as if the compressor is not receiving enough power or if the compressor is not properly lubricated. If the compressor is not working properly, it can put a strain on the engine, which can lead to the car stalling.
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