A/C compressor blew up on highway?

2008 Mazdaspeed 3

Hey guys, I was driving on the highway and was definitely having some fast but safe fun when all of a sudden I heard a loud boom and smoke started coming from my car. I smelt something burning and immediately pulled off into a parking lot. Upon parking, I immediately popped the hood and checked under the car for oil/coolant/liquids dripping from the car. Absolutely nothing. And now, whenever I drove forward I would hear a grind on the passenger side front wheel, but as I moved forward, I heard something drop from the car onto the parking lot pavement. I got out and looked at it, and I’m pretty damn sure it’s my ac compressor clutch. After this fell on the floor, I tried to drive forward in the car again and there was no grind. No smoke coming from the engine bay, no liquids of any kind that I could see. about 20 or so minutes after this, I decided to try to drive home as I was only a few minutes away.

The car drove fine

No noises, the engine sounded okay, and it shifted fine. It felt like nothing happened . I tested my a/c out and it was definitely not working. Everything seems to be just fine, besides the fact that I can hear a hissing sound that can’t really be heard unless you put an ear close to the power steering/serpentine belt area. However, I’m not sure if it’s normal or something to be concerned about. All in all, this seems absolutely bizarre. Can highway speeds really make a compressor clutch just pop off? Should I be worried about other components? The belt is still in tact and everything is spinning. Oil levels seem the same as they were before this all happened. Car wasn’t overheating.

The pressure plate for the compressor clutch came off. But the compressor pulley is still attached to compressor because of the snap ring is holding the bearing and pulley on to the compressor.

If this weren’t the case, you would have lost the serpentine belt and not been able to drive the car very far.

Either the bolt that secures the pressure plate to the compressor shaft loosened up, or that bolt failed.

But I wouldn’t drive the vehicle until it can be determined what if anything else may have been damaged.


Your compressor has seized, the burned clutch plate is the evidence. If you inspect the front of the compressor you will find that the shaft has snapped off. I have replaced dozens of scroll type compressors that have seized and the clutch plate is nowhere to be found.

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Yep… Your compressor decided it was time to leave this earthly realm. It happens. Just a note for the future…if you are trying to have some kind of automotive fun, and I know what that can encompass…you should always be sure the A/C is off. As A/C and “fun” do not often mix well…the A/C is a performance drain and this fact can be argued by no one, so if you are looking to have some performance fun, leave the A/C compressor out of that picture. Not saying you are at fault here, I am simply stating a well known fact.

See, I knew this. The strangest part about all of this to me was that my A/C wasn’t even on… I never turn that thing on lol. and if it was, then I definitely didn’t know it. Weird.

i just replaced a hub assy last month due to a bad bearing. not fun at all. got lucky and a/c still works. did not have to evac system as i did not remove compressor. maybe your center bolt just loosened and fell out and clutch plate than fell off? the clutch plate is splined to shaft so a failure could result in a new compressor next

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