Basics Of A Car Air Compressor

Before we get into building our vacuum pump out of a car’s air compressor, we need to understand how an air compressor works. 

No matter how difficult it looks, a car’s air compressor is a fairly simple device. It consists of a lot of parts but to keep it simple we will discuss only the main components.

The main components of an air compressor are:

  • Pistons
  • Valves
  • A shaft that holds all the pistons in position
  • The outer body to keep all the contraption together
  • One way air valves
  • Electromagnetic Clutch

Pistons: The pistons of a car’s air compressor are two-faced. Meaning while one side is pushing the gas out, the other side of the piston moves in the opposite direction of the valves and starts sucking. There are generally six such pistons on an average air compressor, but this number can change depending upon the car’s brand. 

Valves: The pistons’ valves are long metal tubes responsible for holding the pistons and allowing them only to move in a single tube. It’s the valves where the vacuum is created.

Shaft: The shaft of the air compressor is the most important part. It’s basically a wobble plate which is inclined at an angle. It assigns the movement and is responsible for the harmony between all the individual pistons. 

Body: The air compressor’s body is usually made up of cast iron and has a tiny socket where the gas is injected when it is supposed to be refilled. 

Air Valves: Air is constantly being sucked and pushed out simultaneously in an air compressor. The same pistons that push the air also push them out but just to a duct other than the one the sucked the gas inside the compressor. To make it possible, the chambers where the pistons move have two sets of one-way air valves. One of them opens only when air is being sucked from the intake, and the other opens only when air is pushed out from another outlet. This ensures the flow of gas from the intake to the outlet. 

Electromagnetic Clutch: The air compressor of a car runs on the power the engine produces. It is transferred to the air compressor through a belt. The belt keeps running the air compressor’s pully the whole time the car’s engine starts, But you don’t need to use the AC of your car when the engine is running. To solve this problem, every car’s air compressor uses an electromagnetic clutch that hides behind the car’s pulley. 

When you turn on the AC in your car, the electromagnetic clutch is turned on, and it connects the pulley to the compressor’s shaft, which starts pushing the pistons, forcing them to suck air from one inlet and push it out through another, and that’s how an air compressor works.

Can You Use An Air Compressor As A Vacuum Pump

A vacuum pump and an air compressor are very similar to each other. Unlike an air compressor, the only difference is that instead of taking the air from an open-source and compressing it into a cylinder, a vacuum pump takes the air from the cylinder and excretes it out. Thus creating a vacuum inside the cylinder. 

It’s surprisingly easy to convert an air compressor into a vacuum pump! All you need to do is connect the intake valve of the compressor to the cylinder you want to create vacuum in. Since the job of the air compressor is to suck air and push it out of another end, the compressor starts sucking the air from the cylinder and thus vacuum is born!

An average car air compressor can easily produce vacuum inside a chamber up to 30’HG.

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