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Car AC Stops Working After A Few Minutes – What’s Wrong?

As a car owner, you may be wondering what is wrong when your air conditioner stops working after a few minutes. Luckily, we have done some research for you, and here is what we found.

There are some components of a car that are directly related to the air conditioning system. However, a fault in any of these components can make your car's air conditioner stop working after a few minutes. The following are possible causes of the problem:

  • Overheating
  • Faulty compressor
  • Stuck blend doors
  • Faulty blower motor

Regular car maintenance which includes inspecting the air conditioning system can prevent these problems. Keep reading for more information on issues that may cause a car's air conditioner to stop working after a few minutes and how to fix them.

Automatic Car Air Conditioner, Car AC Stops Working After A Few Minutes - What's Wrong?

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How Does AC Work In A Car?

air conditioner air condition car techonolgy cooling snowflakes air flow background

A car's air conditioner works by controlling the liquid and gaseous states of the refrigerant which is a high-pressure gas. As the refrigerant state changes, it absorbs heat and moisture from the vehicle and allows cool, dry air to flow from the system.

The air conditioner works to control the pressure and temperature in order to change the refrigerant between its liquid and gaseous states.

What Could Be Wrong If My Car AC Stops Working After A Few Minutes?

Closeup side view of a young man using fine brush and cleaning AC vents during car interior detailed cleaning.

A car air conditioner is designed to start cooling when it is turned on and stops when turned off, with 15 to 20 minutes of cycling, intermittently. However, if you notice that your car air conditioner stops working after a few minutes it could be as a result of the following:

Overheating

There are various components of the car that work together to ensure that there is proper regulation of the temperature within the car.

A car’s coolant system works with these components to maintain a constant temperature while driving in hot weather, avoiding the extreme heat that can possibly damage the car. If a car’s coolant system fails, overheating may occur.

Several problems like failed water pump, clogged radiator, clogged condenser fins, and a faulty cooling fan motor, could affect the way a car’s cooling system functions. So, putting on the air conditioner can add to the extra strain on the output shaft of the car engine. When your car is overheating, it could cause the air conditioner to stop working after a few minutes.

Faulty Compressor

A car air conditioner may stop working after a few minutes due to a faulty compressor. A faulty compressor which can be a result of inactivity over a long time will cause the air conditioning system to shut down because of low refrigerant, as it may have leaked out. 

The main work of an air conditioner compressor is to ensure that cool air is created inside the car. It achieves this by taking high-pressure gas from the refrigerant through the evaporator, dropping the pressure. The refrigerant evaporates at a low temperature due to this lowered pressure before the cold vapor is compressed by the AC compressor.

The refrigerant high-pressure gas is warmed during the compression and pushed through pipes into the condenser. Here, the gas re-liquifies and emits heat before it moves into an area to cool.

The refrigerant is returned to a gas state in the evaporator after it has absorbed heat from the passenger area. Then sucked in by the air conditioner compressor.

Stuck Blend Doors

A component of the car that assists in the temperature, airflow, defrosters, and other vents control in the car’s cabin is the blend door actuator; a small electric motor.

When the switch of your air conditioner is turned to increase or reduce the temperature or airflow, it sends power to the blend door actuator resulting in the blend door moving in one direction or another. There is a built-in sensor for feedback in many blend door actuators so that the temperature control module is apprised of the door’s position.

A blend door actuator needs to be in good condition if the car’s air conditioner is set at recirculation mode. Blend door actuators fail when their gear or internal motor wears off.

A fault with the blend door actuator of a car will make the blend doors get stuck at an “open” or “closed” position. Thus, your car’s air conditioner can stop working after a few minutes due to stuck blend doors.

Faulty Blower Motor

A faulty blower motor can make your car's air conditioner stop working after a few minutes. The operation of your car’s air conditioning system and temperature regulation is controlled by a blower motor which is a part of the air conditioning system. Under normal circumstances, the motor resistor and switch accomplish this by operating at a speed level that may vary. 

What Should I Do If My Car AC Stops Working After A Few Minutes?

Woman hand on air conditioner ventilation grille in car. Climate control panel

As with other car components, once you have noticed that your car air conditioner stops working after a few minutes, it is recommended that you seek a professional’s help. You can also diagnose and fix the specific problem by yourself if you have some knowledge about car parts and how they work.

How Can I Use My Car AC More Efficiently?

There are ways to use your car air conditioner more efficiently. One of them is by driving. This makes the engine and the air conditioner compressor run faster, allowing more effective cooling of the system.

Another is repositioning the fan and letting the air conditioner temperature be positioned at the lowest temperature. This can save your fuel.

Recirculation mode also helps. It makes those in the front compartment of the car stay cool as the air in the back gets stale and hot, it should thus be put off if there are passengers in the car.

The auto start/stop system in modern cars stops the car air conditioner compressor from working when the engine is off. Although this feature saves fuel, it should be turned off as it can become inconvenient in the hot weather.

Additionally, optimal airflow is prevented by a dirty filter, always check your cabin air filter to make sure it is clean, thus, resulting in an optimal airflow.

Does Turning Off AC Make Car Faster?

A woman caught the steering wheel of a car while driving to work.

When your climate control is set to cold air, depending on the type of car, approximately 5 to 10 horsepower is used up by your car's air conditioning system as it is linked directly to the motor. Also, a car’s rotation per minute (RPM) can drop because of an air conditioner, and this affects acceleration.

So, turning off your air conditioner makes your car faster. But the difference may not be noticeable when you are driving on a busy road. It can be well noticed when you are on a free road.

How Long Can A Car Battery Run An AC?

The length of time an air conditioner can run on a car battery depends on the type, the condition, and the age of the car battery. For the industry standard battery which is 40 amp-hour, you can have your air conditioner working between 28 to 30 minutes after you have put off your engine.

Should I Turn Off AC Before Starting My Car?

Woman turns on air conditioning in her car. Modern car interior

Engines in older cars are known to easily get overloaded, and the car’s air conditioner compressor was a major cause of the problem. However, the modern engine does not get overloaded by the compressor as they have been built to be more efficient.

Also, it feels good to be able to quickly cool the temperature inside the car on a hot summer day, as most remote start features function accordingly. So, you don’t need to turn off the air conditioner before starting your car.

Does Car AC Use Gas?

The car air conditioner functions by drawing the alternator’s energy which the engine powers and fuel is a requirement for your car engine to be powered. So, a car air conditioner uses fuel.

To Wrap Up

Car climate system with display and knob, button

Regular maintenance of the air conditioning system of a car avoids certain issues. When your car’s air conditioner stops working after a few minutes of use, it could be due to an overheating, faulty compressor, stuck blend doors, or a problem with the blower motor. You can contact a mechanic to help fix this problem if you can't do the fixing yourself.

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