My A/C system has a leak in it and my compressor is making an awful noise: probably needs replacing. Winter is coming though, and I really don't want to spend any time or money on tracking down leaks and converting to 134a and all that jazz. What I want is the simplest way to make the compressor stop spinning when the engine is on. Can I just cut/remove the belt? Could that have negative side effects?

The compressor is on a belt by itself. It's the only reason I would consider removing the belt completely.

Also, are there any significant advantages or disadvantages to removing a non-functioning A/C system entirely?

  • Maybe I am missing something. What's the disadvantage for leaving it as it is? As long as you don't use the AC it should not be engaged.
    – rana
    Oct 3, 2015 at 16:34
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    @rana - If the clutch is bad, leaving it "as is" is an impossibility. I would suggest this is actually the person's problem, considering the A/C pump will not be engaged when the refrigerant pressure gets too low. If the clutch wasn't bad, there wouldn't be an issue. Oct 3, 2015 at 18:22
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    Just fyi... I had an A/C compressor that was making noise like yours, and I let it stay that way for months. Eventually the whole A/C compressor locked up (even when turned off). This prevented the whole car from running or starting, since the entire belt was locked up. Jun 30, 2016 at 20:15

5 Answers 5


Unless the compressor is on a belt by itself, you don't want to remove the belt. Water pumps, alternators and power steering are nice things to have. An A/C delete/bypass pulley for your application would be a way to go, but it will involve pulling the compressor. Probably the easiest thing to do is locate the appropriate relay and pull it. If it's the compressor making the noise and not the pulley/clutch, that should work. Otherwise it's pulley time.

If the compressor is on a belt by itself, I guess you could remove the belt. I would still look for the relay and pull it, though. If it was my car, I wouldn't want to drive it long term without putting the delete pulley on. I would be worried the belt off situation was a corner case the engineers didn't worry about.

Keep in mind that whatever leaks you have now are possibly going to multiply if you leave the system unpressurized for an extended period. Also, the compressor is engaged intermittently when you turn on the defroster to dry the air. If your windshield fogs up it will take longer to clear without the compressor.

  • what if the compressor is on a belt by itself?
    – vlsd
    Oct 21, 2013 at 17:33
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    I've done this mod (just removing the belt) on an 88 Civic with no ill effects. Oct 22, 2013 at 3:05
  • Didn't know that about the compressor turning on with the defroster. It makes for a very good case to pull the relay since I don't really want to engage the compressor without pressure in the system. Concerning the leaks, is there any advantage/disadvantage to completely removing a non-functioning A/C system?
    – vlsd
    Oct 22, 2013 at 19:46

Cutting the belt will solve your problem as long as the belt doesn't drive any other component. If it's making noise all the time you likely only need to replace the pulley, which may be cost effective. Sometimes it cheaper to replace the the compressor/pulley/clutch combination.

  • For a compressor, it's almost certainly not cheaper to replace the whole thing; just the cost of vacuuming out and refilling the system will be higher than the cost of the pulley. Oct 22, 2013 at 3:05
  • @R.. Good point, I can do that part myself so I didn't factor that in. It still may be cheaper to buy the combo and take the pulley off. Depends on the car but for many the whole ac compressor including clutch and pulley is cheaper. Oct 22, 2013 at 3:40

If there is a seperate fuse or relay for the compressor, then you could remove either. There should be an electrical connector near the compressor that could be unplugged, or you could cut the belt if there is nothing else driven by that belt.


Some cars (not Kia) can have a compressor bypass pulley installed & forget the compressor. Pulley & mount about $75 on internet and a couple local mechanic to remove old & install new pulley. 50 MPH air conditioning os just fine.

  • Hello, can you please edit your answer to make it a bit more intelligible? That would greatly help :)
    – chilljeet
    Jun 1, 2015 at 9:48

I had a 85 Ford thunderbird with a completely bad ac system. The compressor was on the drive belt so I bought a smaller belt. Completely removed everything which was about a hundred pounds of parts. I got better gas mileage is the only difference I noticed other than more space to work in the engine with out all that crap in the way. Worked great on that car but all cars are different. Most mineke locations offer free a.c. system check and might be able to offer you the best opinion/option

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