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Trying to wrap my mind around how the AC clutch works. Specifically, with the AC in the off position. What keeps the outer friction plate away from the pulley? It seems like if it they touch. The friction plate would get red hot. Just don't understand what keeps them apart while the clutch is not engaged. Thanks
 

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'07 CR-V EX-L AWD
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The clutch is not a slipper clutch, it is either engaged or disengaged. It consists of two steel plates, with some shim plates in between. It is spring-loaded. The spring keeps it open when disengaged. The electromagnet engages when power is applied. No friction heat is generated other than that required to bring the driven plate up to speed with the drive plate. Under proper operation that engagement is close to instant so there is little to no heat generated. Those thin shim plates take most of the wear and are replaceable. I have in the past added or removed shims and replaced the spring to correct the function. Otherwise, as long as it does not get loose enough to cause slipping, it should last just about forever. So, if it does start to slip, it should be an observable condition, and is easily (if not left too long) repaired using the above methods. Disassembly requires special tools. Slipping is caused by either too much clearance or not enough spring tension. So, removing or replacing shims will correct clearance, and a new spring will correct tension. If left too long and wear is just too much, just replace the clutch assembly as a whole. Electromagnetic failure is not unheard of but very rare. Nonetheless, my general rule of thumb has always been that if the clutch can be repaired using those method I will just do that. Barring extreme circumstances it should not need to be replaced. But, when the compressor is replaced, I always go with a new clutch, because if the compressor is worn out it's likely the clutch is too, and I'd not want to risk a new compressor over a clutch issue.
 
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