Recently my car has developed some extra noise under the hood. My mechanic informed me that the bearing from the A/C compressor is bent (likely from a collision one year ago), causing it to wear, and that to fix the issue I should replace the compressor. I trust his advice, but I would like to put it off until it is absolutely necessary.

What are the long term consequences of not replacing the worn bearing in my A/C compressor? If the bearing breaks completely, would my car be inoperable until the compressor is replaced? Will other components likely be damaged? I can't just take the serpentine belt off of the compressor, can I?

My car is a 2008 Honda Civic EX-L.

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    Note you can also get a free-winding pully that fits on in place of the compressor -- you'll have no AC, but you can still drive 'till you get a chance to replace the compressor.
    – Cullub
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 17:55
  • @Cullub Hmmm, i guess a scrapyard compressor is cheaper than that. In addition, if you carefully check the scrapyard compressor before buying it you may also end with a good one. Check for no case damage, no oil leaks, proper clutch hub rotation without any rough spot and with uniform resistance (to check if not seized), proper and silent pulley rotation (to check if the bearing is good), resistance at the coil terminals (3-6 Ohm for a good one), and "pop test" (place finger on discharge refrigerant port, that is the smaller one, rotate clutch hub and feel for any pressure building up).
    – Al_
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 18:31
  • @Al_ I'm talking about an AC Bypass pulley. Maybe a junkyard one would be cheaper, and there's definitely the chance it'll be a good one which would be way cheaper. But you can't order used pullies on Amazon, and it's a hassle to get it. The pulley bypass is usually only $30 or so (see my link above)
    – Cullub
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 18:34
  • @Cullub Agree, you can't check the compressor yourself before paying when buying them online, you also risk being treated like some kind of weirdo if you send them back saying it's no good.
    – Al_
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Not necessarily specific to your car - If the bearing collapses and the pulley falls off, you will loose all drive to the other ancillaries e.g. alternator, water pump, power steering ....

Without the alternator you will eventually loose lights, then the engine will eventually shutdown.

Without the water pump, your engine will overheat and possibly seize.

Without the power steering you may loose control turning a corner in the car.

The belt/pulley could cause damage to the radiator as it comes off.

You don't want this to happen on a critical journey, so best get this looked at as soon as you can.

It is not possible to take the serpentine belt off one ancillary.

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    Add to this that the heat from a seized bearing damages the compressor's shaft seal. The best thing you could do is finding someone willing to change only the bearing (or the clutch assembly if damaged too). Also, keep in mind that AC clutch pulley bearings usually wear due to abnormal compressor body temperature, caused by running the AC system with a low refrigerant level, or improper lubrication (improper type and quantity of compressor oil). One more advice: never put off worn bearings, you don't know when they will finally seize.
    – Al_
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 20:37
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    Also, overheated engine can also mean new head gasket. And, your mechanic is likely not willing to disassemble your compressor so try finding another one. The compressor core may still be good.
    – Al_
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 20:37
  • It can be possible to take the belt off of one ancilliary - just need a new shorter belt if the new path is clear... been done on some cars to bypass a faulty a/c compressor.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 20:31
  • @SolarMike Not feasible on all cars unfortunately. Best solution is a scrapyard compressor, good ones often turn up.
    – Al_
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 18:32
  • @Al_ I did say “some” ... And it does work - a classic solution on the Jag x-type...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 18:49

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