is it normal for the A/C to cycle so much? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

is it normal for the A/C to cycle so much?


Well-Known Member
February 15, 2000
Reaction score
City, State
Memphis Tn
Year, Model & Trim Level
1991 EB Explorer 4x4
i was just wondering i have a 91 Explorer and it sure does seem like the A/C cycles alot compared to any other car i have had. i was just wondering is it normal for the Explorer to do this? is something going to go wrong with it? is it a sign? any tips?

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

I am having the same problem with my AC. It seems to cycle or click a lot. I don't know what the problem is. It was doing it earlier this past summer and i took it in and they said they fixed it but now that I have been using my AC again it seems to be clicking again a lot.

97 Eddie Bauer
SOHC 4.0L V6
K&N filtercharger

Mine does it too. It does it roughly every 17 seconds. It clicks just like you both described. What's it doing and why is it doing it?

Happy Wheelin,

Andy Statland
'97 XLT 4.0L OHC 4Dr 4x4
Warrior Twist in the works

In case you were unaware, the air conditioning is on when your climate control knob is in the following positions:
1. A/C Max (obviously)
2. A/C Norm (obviously)
3. Mix from dash and floor
4. Mix floor and defrost
5. Defrost

Thus if you don't want the A/C to be running at all, you have to use either:
1. Dash only or
2. Floor only.

Personally I find this annoying; I would like to be able to control direction of air flow independantly from the air conditioning control. An ex-mechanic guy I know said that they design the a/c to come on in those other positions for a few reasons, which include drying the air (especially for defrost) as well as pumping the "freon" (or whatever it is called now) through the system to keep it functioning properly. He told me that there is no lubrication in some parts of the system except for the flow of that gas, so not using it for an extended time could be harmful.

As for cycling too often, I can't say. There will be some sort of control system which regulates this, and there probably is no adjustment.

Ontario Canada(!)


Are you sure the AC cycles in the mix modes? I have a 91, and I'm quite sure the AC does not cycle in the mix modes. It will cycle in the defrost mode as you say (to dry the air) but when I want the defroster on and do not what the AC to cycle, I bring the control lever back into the mix mode about two clicks. That keeps the AC from cycling.

91 EB 4x4 Stock

I have found out before if your air keeps cycling often it needs to be charged up.

thanks for all your tips , maybe ill just charge it and see what that does.

Just to clear up a little confusion, the AC compressor does not necessarily run when it is in any of these positions. On the 91 models, you must have the fan switch pushed in for the compressor to work. If the orange light on the fan knob is not on, the compressor will not be engaged. It may be different on the newer models but I know how my 91 is. I kinda like it better this way.

91 XLT 4x4

How can you tell when you've run out of invisible ink?

This is what my 98 owners manual says about the compressor:

If the outside temperature is about 50 F or higher, the air conditioner will automatically dehumidify the air to prevent fogging.

I do find that when this is happening, the compressor does click in and out at a un-nerving rate. Hope this helps.

Exploring CA
98 XLT 4X4 4.0L SOHC

well i have a 91 EB as well and it does cycle even if the little button and orange light isnt lit. well the clutch engages anyway. but today i tried it out i used to always just keep it in the defrost point and fan off and A/C would cycle, ( bugged me too) but today i put it on the floor position and had fan off and no cycle! oh well ! thanks

My '96 does not have a separate button to control the A/C. Just another little complaint from me, the control freak Dead Link Removed. Yes, I am sure the A/C will cycle (at least somewhat) when the air control is in "mix". And, yes, it annoys me Dead Link Removed.

Ontario Canada(!)

My '91XLT will only engage when the fan knob is pushed in and the orange light is on. As for cycling, I think Mike is right about the low freon. Mine cycled every few seconds before I found I had a leak and there was very little Freon in the system. Nearly seven hundred dollars later, with no leaks, new hoses, o rings and condenser it works like a gem. I'm not sure how the newer system work, but I don't think the clutch should engage unless the fan botton is on and orange light is lit like Ira posted.

In your 91 (and thru 93 at least) the AC compressor is activated by 2 switches in the AC control panel: the fan push button (with orange light indication), and a small end switch that is made in the "defrost" position.

Frequent cycling is ususally caused by air in the Freon system. The AC compressor is being turned-off by the system "high pressure" limit switch that is in the activation circuit (due to the fact that "air" will not condense in the AC condenser like the Freon does). Your only action is to fix the leak, evacuate the system and recharge with Freon.

However, the R-12 Freon in your truck is now very expensive to obtain and to handle. I suggest that you consider changing your system to the newer R-134 gas that is used in current systems. There are kits to make this change (I heard that K-Mart had a good one for $25 or so) or have an AC shop do it but in the end it will be very much less expensive over the long run.

Skip-Thanks for clearing this up. You're right about it all. I had forgotten about the defrost switch. Here in Hawaii, I really don't use the defrost. Only the air and the vent or fan and panel. Did you convert to R-134 from R-12? If so, did a shop do it for you, or did you do it yourself? And how much better is the R-134? Sorry for all the questions, but I was told by a bunch of shops that the system needs to be completely clean of R-12 for R-134 to work well. I guess they meant complete system overhaul. Also that that R-134 doesn't cool as good as R-12. Maybe you or someone shed more light on this subject. Much appreciated!

I have a 91 and can confirm that the compressor is on when the light is on. The fan can be on or off! Don't over pressurize your system. The compressor is on when the damper arm is in the defrost position. Make sure the fan is on or you will frost the lower portion of the windshield. I Houston, this is a problem.

I have r-134a retro fit for three years, Replaced the rubber, compressor, drier and orifice. If you balance the pressures right, it will keep you cool at 105F in the summer. High humidity is a challenge though, recirc the air until the interior is cool.

'91 stock 4X4

I don't have experience with the R-134 conversions myself. Here in the "other world" (Central America) buying R-12 is as easy as finding bottled water. (You see, Mr. I Love My Planet Al Gore himself was involved with convincing Dupont to continue production of R-12 for another year in 1993 or 94 in order to reap the export duties...but that's another story you'll never see in the stateside freepress.)

Go to the following site for some good advice and experience in AC gas system conversions:
Dead Link Removed

But the way, when the AC system is evacuated properly for routine maintenance there will be no R-12 left in the system; no other high priced mechanic's magic is required.

Hope this helps.

Skip-thanks for the info. Really appreciate it.

Whoa!! R-12 and R-143a are not compatible. The R-12 will be in the oil, the seals, and the rubber. It will react with the R-12 to form a corrosive that will do a lot of damage. Also, the R-134a is not compatible with the oil used with R-12.

To upgrade, replace all the rubber, the copressor and the drier. Flush the system with propane; evacuate; flush again.

You do not want any trace of the old oil around.

Replace the cap tube or orifice tube and balance the pressures. I had mine done three summers ago. It cools fine in Houston heat and humidity.

The pressures are higher with R-134a. Expect a higher failure rate on a retrofit. I lost a new hose, yeah, the expensive '91 unihose.

The are suppose to come out with a dropin replacement for R-12. I have been away from refrigeration for three years and don't know the status.

'91 stock 4X4