What is a “car surges when air conditioning is on” inspection?

If your car is surging when you turn on the AC, a licensed mechanic can assess your car’s engine and AC system to diagnose the issue. She’ll likely need to test drive the car, check all the components of your car’s electrical and AC systems to verify the cause of the issue, then repair or replace parts as needed.
Make sure you stay up-to-date with your car’s routine maintenance to avoid issues with your AC system or engine.

How to inspect a car that surges when the AC is on

During an inspection, your mechanic will probably look at each of these components in order to diagnose the problem:


If your AC system is low on refrigerant, your compressor will need to cycle more frequently, which could lead to an increased load on your engine. An overfilled refrigerant can cause similar issues. The mechanic may need to add or remove the refrigerant fluid.


A worn or damaged compressor belt can slip during operation, placing a huge strain on your car’s engine and AC system, and leading to car surging. The mechanic may need to replace a bad belt with a new one.

AC compressor

Your AC compressor is largely responsible for an operating AC system, so if this fails, your car could surge. The mechanic will decide if this needs to be repaired.

AC cycling switch

Your car’s AC cycling switch is in charge of controlling the compressor cycling pattern. If it’s faulty or malfunctioning, it could place serious strain on your engine and lead to surging. Your mechanic will determine if the AC cycling switch needs to be repaired.

How important is it to have my car fixed if it surges when the air conditioning is on?

At the end of the day, it’s not really a high-priority safety issue to get this problem fixed. But, unfixed, you might have to drive without using your car’s AC, which can be slightly uncomfortable or completely unbearable, depending on the climate in your area.

Getting the right car insurance for my car

When all is said and done, make sure you and your car are fully protected with adequate car insurance.
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