Air Conditioner keeps going off on 2004 Subaru Outback

Our Air conditioner keeps on for about 5 minutes then cuts off. If we turn the car off and immediately back on it comes back on for another 5 minutes. we have taken it to the dealer twice at ca. 200 a pop and they say they have fixed it each time but they haven’t.

I suggest taking your Outback to an independent AC shop. You probably could have had it repaired the first time for your initial $200 spent at the dealership. Dealerships…believe it or not…are not the pros when it comes to vehicle repair.

I agree; dealers are expensive and not all that competent with A/C units. We have a shop here called AUTO TEMP and these guys are pros.

I have no idea what’s going on here without knowing system pressures and when it’s cutting off at what pressure but do think that it’s unfair to blanket condemn all dealers as being incompetent with A/C repair. I’m reasonably competent with it and have worked with many others at dealers who are also.

Dealers routinely see A/C problems (along with everything else) that have been mangled up by an independent shop or a DIYer and then have to be condemned for the price of sorting out that boondoggle.

If this is an intermittent electrical issue then it becomes extremely difficult to sort out unless that issue surfaces and stays surfaced.

Possible that you need a refrigerant recharge. Your car is old enough to need it. There’s a pressure switch inside the system that shuts off the compressor if the refrigerant pressure has gotten too low. If the refrigerant pressure is right on the ragged edge, the compressor may be getting shut off intermittently by the pressure switch. Have you ever had the system recharged?

If there is red dust near the compressor pulley, check the a/c relay switch. They are about $7 in the US and about $27 CDN. My 2008 was doing the same thing its first summer but ever since then, its been running fine and I didn’t do anything. The “red dust”'suggestion came from the Outback Forum from folks who have had the same problem which did no fix itself. Good luck.

I was going to say the same as Jesmed… A low pressure condition (regarding charge pressure) could cause this… Similarly…an over pressure could do the same thing also. You need to have the charge looked into…

Usually “cycling” of the A/C compressor is from a leaking system that is getting low on charge…

When filling an A/C system from negative pressure it will cycle until the correct amount of charge is reached…then it will stay on for a longer interval. However like I said…a compressor will cycle from both Under and Over pressure.


Honda Blackbird,
That is an excellent point. My cycling occurred when the car was new and there may have been just a little too much refrigerant in the system. As time passed, the excess somehow got out and the pressure leveled off. An internet search does show that intermittent on/off cycling of the a/c is a symptom of too much or too little pressure. Thanks.