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Buick LeSabre A/C Compressor and Clutch

Knowing whether or not you need to replace your Buick LeSabre A/C compressor or clutch is important, since leaving malfunctioning parts in place could cause damage to other components. The compressor is driven by a belt, so a failure can damage the belt, which could fail catastrophically. When checking the compressor, make sure that the clutch is able to both engage and disengage easily and smoothly — a slow response may be an indicator of potential trouble.

How do automotive Buick LeSabre A/C compressors work?

The compressor does most of the hard work in automotive A/C systems. The A/C cools down air by blowing it over tubes containing very cold refrigerant. In order to cool down this refrigerant, it needs to be under high enough pressure to become a liquid. This is done by the compressor, which uses a simple pump to gradually increase the pressure to sufficient levels. The compressor gets its power from a belt that connects it to the engine, which means that the rotor that controls the pump is always in motion whenever the vehicle is running. In order to avoid the A/C running constantly, there needs to be a way to disengage the rotor from the pump that compresses the gaseous refrigerant. This is the responsibility of the clutch.

How does these parts work in a Buick LeSabre?

The way that the clutch works is actually quite simple. There are two friction plates, one attached to the compressors main rotor and the other connected to the pump. When these are separated, the pump is disengaged and even though the rotor is turning, the pump is not working. When the A/C is turned on, a small electromagnet located close to the two friction plates is activated, which creates a magnetic field that in turn magnetizes both of them. The magnetic force attracts them toward each other and keeps them in contact. This keeps the pump active for as long as the electromagnet is on. When the A/C is turned off, the electromagnet deactivates, and they are no longer magnetically attached to each other. A spring attached to one of them pulls it back to the starting position, which disengages the pump and stops the system.

What are signs of a bad compressor or clutch?

If you are having issues with the air conditioning in your Buick, one of the things that might be the problem is the clutch. Here are some things to watch out for that could signify that this is your problem.

  • Stuck on/off: If the air conditioner is unable to switch on or off, then there might be a problem with the clutch. If it is stuck on, the clutch might have seized up and is not able to disengage the rotor after being shut off. If it doesnt turn on, the clutch might have simply broken, resulting in the compressor not being able to start the pump.
  • Excessive noise: If the compressor is making more noise than usual, it may be a sign that one of the bearings is starting to fail. This is usually the result of some other mechanical problem that has caused the components to start overheating. If you start hearing noise when you turn on your cars A/C, get it checked out as soon as possible as a failed bearing could completely destroy the compressor and the clutch beyond repair.