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What To Do When RV Air Conditioner Compressor NOT Coming On

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So you are driving around in your RV in the middle of a summer day. Suddenly, you feel that it’s kind of hot in here and go to check the air conditioner. Upon close inspection, it seems that your RV air conditioner compressor not coming on. This is truly one of the biggest problems RV owners face. Under intense heats of the sun, leaving the air conditioner in such a state can cause a lot of discomforts for you on your RVing trip. Of course, you can always get to the nearest auto shop and ask them to take a look. But if you want to try figuring the issue on your own and cut down some expenses, this article can help.

Air conditioner performance relies a lot on the smooth operations of its components and among them is the compressor. In the case of RV air conditioner compressor not coming on, the cooling effect of the machine will decrease significantly. Hitting everything and hope for the best is not exactly wise here so don’t do that. There are steps you have to take to determine what you are dealing with and work out a suitable solution. In the case that you in need of hints, there is a detailed step by step instruction right below.

You might want to check the article Best RV Air Conditioner to have a further understanding on how to choose a good quality AC unit for your RV and avoid frustrating situation when the AC is broken on your camping trip!


Since you are dealing with an electrical device, ensure that you have taken all the safety measures. Disconnect the A/C from the power grid or just shut down everything with the main breaker, just to be safe.  Insulated gloves, multimeter and electrical tester are strongly recommended. Remember that you should only perform the repair if you have certain knowledge about how the machine works. If you don’t feel very confident, invite HVAC technicians and let them take over.  

RV Air Conditioner Compressor NOT Coming On: How to troubleshot

As the name suggests, compressor main purpose is to compress refrigerant which is then squeezed into the condenser. This is considered the beginning of the air conditioning cycle so any trouble with the compressor can render the A/C temporary useless. So let’s see several possible causes that could be the reason behind the compressor malfunction. RV air conditioner troubleshooting process:

  • Power

AC power
Power is one of the major factors causing AC compressor to stop working.

This could be the first thing that comes to your mind when the A/C compressor refuses to start.  The unit could be insufficiently powered so go check the RV fuse and breaker. If you find a blown out fuse or a tripped breaker, restore it back to the original state. After that, fire up the A/C again and hope that that is it. With luck, your compressor will start working again and bring you relief from the heat. However, frequent fuse and breaker problem isn’t a good sight. Turning the A/C on and off in quick succession can lead to this situation.

  • Capacitor

The problem sometimes comes from a faulty capacitor.

Beside the power, a damaged or faulty capacitor is another popular theory you should consider when RV air conditioner compressor not coming on. This component contains electricity to boost up the compressor and the A/C fan when you turn on the machine. Replacement is rather easy, just note down the specifications on the capacitor surface and its wiring. After that, go out and buy a new one with the same figures then install it in. As long as the voltage and the model of the new capacitor are the same as the original, it should get the compressor back to usual operation.

>> You may also like: Best TPMS for RV 2018 Buyer’s Guide <<

  • Relay

Same as the capacitor, a broken start relay can make the compressor to malfunction. Exam carefully and search for suspicious traits such as burn marks or flimsy connections. But if you have been using the thing for a long time or just want to be absolutely sure, just outright replace it. This is the best way to decide whether the relay is at fault in this case or not. When the new start relay is installed, turn on the A/C and see if that has finally solved the issue or not.

  • Valve

AC compressor valve
A defective compressor valve could affect cooling system of an AC.

When there is something wrong with the valve, the compressor might still work but there won’t be any cooling from the A/C. The most notable problem here is the refrigerant reaches the compressor is in the liquid state instead of gas. As a result, this largely interrupts the air conditioning cycle and the compressor performance. Luckily, the replacing producers of a valve are very simple and easy. You can quickly put in a replacement valve and that would be sufficient address the compressor problem.

  • Connection

If the compressor behaved in an erratic and sporadic fashion before it’s completely down, unsecured terminal connections may be the cause. So give the terminal a look over and ensure that the connections aren’t loosed. Sometimes, accumulation of dirt and alike can get in the way of the terminal operation too. Regular cleaning and maintenance will be an adequate solution though.    

  • Dead compressor

AC Compressor
If the AC compressor is diagnosed being dead, so it’s time to replace a new one!

You will come to this conclusion if the compressor remains inactive after everything that has been done. There are two courses of action you can take here so pick the one that suits you. You can either order a replacement for the compressor or just throw all of them out and buy a brand new A/C. The most influential factor here would be the cost. If the cost for a new compressor is less than half of a new A/C, go with the replacing option. But if the new A/C is only two times more expensive than the replacement, just go out and buy a new product.

Coleman Mach RV air conditioner troubleshooting

Coleman is a popular brand in the RV business so its A/C compressor issues can be solved in the same way. Just slowly and carefully read through the troubleshooting guide above and apply it to the RV. If you really need an assistance, Coleman customer service is responsive and they can even get a technician on the scene.


And that would be most of the basic thing to try when RV air conditioner compressor not coming on. Not too difficult to absorb right? A/C is probably some of the best things to use when the weather is hot. That is why if the machine compressor broke down, we all want to fix it right away to regain access to coolness. So if you possess enough information about A/c operation, you can try t fix it on your own by using the guide above.

>> Check here for more good tips and reviews about RV appliances <<

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