Car Jerking/Cutting Off When Air Conditioner Is On? (Answered)

Using your car Air Conditioner (A/C) constantly can sometimes show symptoms and signs of problems.

If ignored can lead to the whole A/C system being damaged. Some of the behaviors you might notice are the car jerking or cutting off.

Let’s find out why your car is jerking or cutting off when the A/C is on.

Here’s Why Your Car Is Jerking Or Cuttings Off When The A/C Is On

When you turn on the A/C, the car will jerk because of the power source. When the engine is running, all electrical units are powered by the alternator backed up by a battery. A faulty alternator or a weak battery is likely to cause your car to lack the voltage it needs to function smoothly.

Mercedes Benz control panel
Mercedes Benz control panel with A/C and Sync On

A/C unit temperatures are controlled by your engine.

Besides regulating the temperature of the fluids within, it also controls the pressure. This cooling is assisted by the radiator and condenser of the air conditioner. Outside of the car, the radiator is located. Behind the radiator is the AC condenser.

When your vehicle’s AC is on, it might jerk for several reasons.

Compressors might not be properly engaged if they are not properly engaged. A jerky engine can be caused by a faulty compressor clutch.

The AC system itself may be malfunctioning as well. If your system has a leak or is low on Freon, you might need to replace it. Likewise, a malfunctioning system can cause the engine to jerk if it stresses it.

Additionally, the AC may be causing the engine to lose power. Battery or alternator problems could cause this.


The Compressor Is Not Properly Engaged

Your car’s air conditioning system uses a compressor to maintain a low temperature.

As hot air is drawn from the cabin, it is condensed. Inside the condenser, thin tubes carry air.

Using the tubing with the AC unit coils helps cool the air. Condensation occurs simultaneously with the compressor heating fluid.

Keeping the tubing from freezing is made easier by the heated fluid. Smooth airflow is ensured by that. Your cabin is cooled by the air.

Heat is then transferred to the engine through the heated fluid.

The Air Conditioner Leaks Or There Are Low Freon Levels In The System

A leak in your car’s air conditioner can cause the air conditioner to jerk. Having low freon levels can result in your car jerking when you turn on the air conditioner.

Compressors pump refrigerant through AC systems when they are turned on. There is a possibility that the compressor will pump air instead of refrigerant if there is a leak.

Your car can jerk as a result of insufficient lubrication received by the compressor. It is possible for your car to jerk when the freon level is low since the compressor has to pump the refrigerant through the system more forcefully.

This leads to overheating and shutting down. Your car’s AC system needs to be topped off if you suspect leaks or low freon levels.

If your car jerks when you turn on the AC, one potential cause could be a malfunctioning AC system.

Consequently, the evaporator can form ice, which will cause the car to jerk when the AC is turned on. You should have your AC system inspected by a qualified mechanic if you suspect it may be causing your car to jerk.

The Engine Doesn’t Get Enough Power

 It takes a certain amount of power for a car engine to run smoothly. The car can jerk when the AC is turned on if the engine is not getting enough power.

This problem could be caused by a number of factors. Insufficient power may be supplied to the engine by the alternator.

The air filter might also be dirty, preventing airflow to the engine. Further diagnosis should be performed by a mechanic if the problem persists. There are usually simple solutions to this problem.

Is It Safe To Keep Driving Without Switch On A/C, If Car Only Jerks When A/C Is On?

car a/c push switch
Car A/C push switch with controls

It might be okay to drive your car for a short while if it only jerks when the air conditioner is running. If the car is jerking, it’s important to determine the cause, as some causes can indicate serious problems.

This problem can be caused by several different things, so diagnosing it is crucial to fixing it. Your engine oil level and quality should be checked first if your car is jerking while driving.

The engine can misfire and jerk if the oil is low or dirty. Spark plugs and the ignition system are other potential causes of car jerking. Erratic engine performance can be caused by faulty components.

Alternatively, there could be a power issue with your engine. An air filter that is dirty or an oil level that is too low can cause this problem. As always, it is recommended that you have a mechanic take a look at this right away.

How Can I Fix My Car From Jerking Or Cutting Off When The A/C Is On?

The best way to fix a jerk in the car that is caused by the A/C is to determine the cause. This can be difficult if you don’t have any mechanical experience. To get a proper diagnosis and repair for your car, you should take it to a mechanic.

A mechanic will be able to identify the problem, order the necessary part, add freon the A/C or tell you if there is another issue that could be causing your car to lose power when the A/C is on.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix My Car Jerking Or Cutting Off When The A/C Is On?

The cost of repairs for this issue depends on the actual cause of the jerking.

If the cause is due to a problem with your condenser or compressor, you may need to buy the new parts and pay for the labor required to install them.

If the problem is due to a lack of freon, you may have to pay between $100 and $300 to have it filled.

To get an accurate estimate on the cost, you will need to have the car inspected by an experienced mechanic.

Final Thoughts

If your car is shaking or jerking when you turn on the A/C it is a sign of a very serious problem.

While it may be okay to drive the car without the A/C on for a short time, it’s not safe to do so for very long.

There could be numerous things wrong with the vehicle that cause it to jerk.

It’s best to take your car to a mechanic to have the problem diagnosed and repaired properly.


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