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Lifespan of A/C compressor

What is the typical lifespan of an A/C compressor? I had the engine replaced in my vehicle, and then the A/C quit working. Now they want another $1,800 on top of the $3,200 I just paid them. Quite a coincidence! Could the compressor or another A/C part been damaged when the old engine was taken our or the new engine was put in? I have a 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe with 80,000 miles.

My Honda Civic’s original compressor lasted about 12 years and I’m not sure how many miles, but maybe 140,000 or so. I actually have a separate post because the replacement compressors have been awful. By the way, my regular mechanic (and not the one who put in the useless compressor I got last fall) quoted me something like $750 to replace it (we are in Oklahoma). Don’t know if your mechanic is expensive or if it is the market you are in. Wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion.

Thanks. I’m in Tucson, Arizona. I’m getting 3 other quotes, including one from the dealer. It could be my make/model is just expensive, or it could be that it’s going to be 100 degrees outside for the next 3 months and mechanics think you’ll be desperate and will pay anything!

The life of a compressor of course depends on how much it is used. On my last Caprice, the pump began to get noisy at 220,000 miles and 18 years old, and would have had to be replaced, if I had kept the car. The price quoted by a specialty A/C shop for a rebuild and a complete cleanout of the system (absolutely necessary) was about $800, in 2006.

On our 1976 Ford Granada the pump failed (seized up) at 105,000 miles and 12 years of age.

I just talked to the mechanic replacing my new compressor. Apparently our compressor would cost a lot more if we got the Honda branded one though I didn’t find out how much. Our car is 13 years old so I probably wouldn’t have chosen to, but the original compressor lasted me 12 years and the after market one seems to be hopeless. The mechanic said usually they are fine though and we’ve just had bad luck.

I’d guess the compressor manufacturers have data on this, but it isn’t published. Based on the posts we get here it seems to be about 10-15 years.

So why in the world did an '02 model vehicle with a measly 80k miles need a new engine in the first place?

My guess is that the timing belt probably snapped and caused enough damage to total the engine. We had a similar post about a Sonata where the owners “skipped” the belt replacement.

Yes, that Sonata owner stated that he was “pretty good” about maintenance, despite not replacing the timing belt on schedule. In my book, that counts as a very big “whoops”, and is a perfect illustration of why “pretty good” is frequently not good enough.

I just got rid of an '87 Accord - Needless to say this thing was 22 years old, had the original compressor and it worked just fine.

You can run your a/c in the winter every now and then to keep the seals and o-rings lubricated. You run it in the winter with the heat on when the air is humid and your windows fog up (very annoying at night and well worth having a/c to clear them).

The only way I could see the shop being at fault on this would be if the compressor lines were disconnected and a substantial amount of refrigerant oil was lost. If the compressor was simply unbolted and moved aside for the engine swap then I see no way the shop was responsible for this problem.

The OP has an 8 year old vehicle and is in Tuscon, AZ. This means the A/C has probably seen a lot of use.
Considering the climate there, this also means the high side pressures in the system are running on average higher than they would be anywhere else and may be helped along by a bug-clogged condenser.
Higher pressures and age can lead to refrigerant leaks and anytime refrigerant leaks oil will also be lost. Maybe the compressor just finally gave up due to lack of oil and the onset of hot weather again.