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RV AC Clicks But Won’t Turn On: 4 Reasons and Troubleshooting Guide

Are you frustrated by the issue that the RV AC clicks but won’t turn on? Then, don’t worry! You are at the right blog post. I have encountered this issue and by using various troubleshooting methods, I successfully resolved this issue. So, today, I will share my experience and list the possible solutions for you to counter problems like thermostats and wiring issues.

Also, keep reading to learn about some maintenance tips and other users’ experiences so that you do not face this issue firsthand. Let’s start exploring this detailed guide!

RV AC clicks but won't turn on

An Overview of the Working of Air Conditioners in an RV

An RV air conditioner works by taking out heat, not by making cold air.

An Overview of the Working of Air Conditioners in an RV
Credit: www.youtube.com @AllAboutRVs
  • The first step starts with the compressor, which moves and heats the refrigerant gas. Then, the gas goes to the condenser, where it gets pressurized and releases heat.
  • Afterward, the condenser takes the heat from the air inside the RV and pushes it outside.
  • Next, the refrigerant changes into a liquid in the condenser, ready to repeat the cycle.
  • The liquid then goes to the fan evaporator, which absorbs warmth from the RV’s air, turning it back into a vapor. Then, this vapor goes back to the compressor, and the cycle starts over.

However, to get a clear understanding of this, I recommend you watch this YouTube video.

Quick Note: Remember that every RV air conditioner has certain limits. They can only cool air by about 15-22 degrees at once. So, if it’s 95 degrees outside, and the outdoor AC unit is working well, the inside of the RV will be around 75-80 degrees cooler for some time. This kind of temperature may still feel warm so don’t get to conclusions quickly that your AC is not working.

Signs Your RV Air Conditioner Might Not Be Working Right

Just like anything else, these air conditioners can sometimes encounter issues. If you notice anything unusual, it could be a sign that something in the outdoor unit is not working as it should. So, keep an eye out for these common symptoms to help you figure out if your RV’s AC needs little attention. Below, I have listed these symptoms that I personally observed in a faulty AC:

  • Water is dripping from the AC,
  • There’s a bad smell coming from the AC unit,
  • AC is blowing hot air instead of cool air,
  • The camper’s AC won’t turn on,
  • The cooling process won’t stop when it should,
  • Ice is covering the RV AC unit,
  • AC motor is making a loud noise compared to expected.

So, if you find any of these symptoms matching your RV AC unit’s current situation, continue reading further for solutions.

Troubleshooting RV AC Clicks But Won’t Turn On

Now that we have learned about the faulty RV AC symptoms, it’s time to explore the detailed solutions to its problems. Let’s learn about them in the section below:

Reason 01: Thermostat Troubles

When you adjust your thermostat settings, a faint clicking noise is typical. This noise is produced by a relay component responsible for opening and closing to activate or deactivate the RV AC. However, if you notice a loud click, but the AC remains unresponsive, it could indicate a malfunctioning thermostat or breaker.

Reason 01: Thermostat Troubles
Credit: www.youtube.com @RVProject
Thermostat malfunctions often occur due to a broken relay. But, there can be other culprits too. In my case, the issue was due to worn-out wires. To diagnose, listen carefully to hear where the clicking sound is coming from.

There’s likely an issue if it’s near the thermostat. In such cases, seek assistance from an HVAC professional who can thoroughly inspect the wall-mounted thermostat and recommend effective solutions.

Reason 02: Control Board Glitches

The thermostat communicates with the control board, which sends electrical signals to various AC components, such as the blower, instructing them to turn on or off. Unfortunately, the electrical part of the control board can experience glitches, causing a relay to time out and fail to produce the clicking noise.

Reason 02: Control Board Glitches
Credit: www.youtube.com @RamblinMichigander
The control board may be at fault if the clicking sound originates from the power supply or AC indoor unit. To address this, consult a professional who can assess the control board, identify the root cause, and guide you through the necessary repairs.

Reason 03: Accumulated Dirt and Dust

Dirt and dust can quickly build up in crucial components like evaporators, condensers, and filters if not cleaned or replaced regularly. This accumulation can lead to issues such as the RV clicking AC but failing to turn on.

Reason 03: Accumulated Dirt and Dust
Credit: www.youtube.com @JustPlainCommonSense
Check for the accumulated dust on your RV AC has filters. If you find them in bad condition, replace them according to the user manual schedule. Periodic cleaning is an effective method to maintain your RV AC in optimal condition.

Reason 04: Low Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is the substance that keeps your AC unit operating at a cool temperature. If the refrigerant level drops too low, your AC won’t function as it should. Even if it manages to turn on, the air it produces is likely to lack the refreshing coolness you expect.

Reason 04: Low Refrigerant Levels
Credit: www.youtube.com @hillbillyrv
The process of refilling is relatively straightforward for AC units utilizing R410A or R134A refrigerants. However, if your AC system uses any of the R22 types, seeking professional assistance is necessary for the refill process. This is important to ensure the proper handling of refrigerants, maintaining the efficiency, and, most importantly, the safety of your RV AC system.

Can Resetting Resolve the Issue When Your RV AC Clicks but Refuses to Turn On?

Is your RV’s air conditioner making a clicking noise but not turning on? Don’t worry, as I am here to guide you regarding this. For years, I also faced the same issue with my RV AC unit but came across the two most effective methods I will share with you now.

Using the Reset Button

Let’s dive into the first method as a potential solution to resolve RV AC clicks that won’t turn on issue. This method involves using the reset button:

RV AC Clicks But Won't Turn On. Using the Reset Button
Credit: www.youtube.com @GarryNicholas

Step 1: Identify the Reset Button

  • Start checking for the reset button, often highlighted in red, on your RV AC unit.
  • Depending on the model, it might be located at the unit’s back, bottom, or side. Ensure the unit is switched off before proceeding.

Step 2: Press and Hold the Button to Reset

  • Press and hold the reset button consistently for 3-5 seconds with the RV AC turned off.
  • Plus, allow 10-15 seconds to elapse without any action.
  • After that, press and hold the reset button again, this time for an additional 3 seconds, and at last, turn on the RV AC and assess whether it resumes normal operation.

Manual Reset

For RV owners whose units lack a reset button, there’s an alternative method to attempt a manual reset. In this section, I have provided a detailed guide on how to go about this process:

Step 1: Cut Down the Power

  • To ensure safety, switch off the RV AC and disconnect its power source before attempting any troubleshooting.
  • Then, locate the RV circuit breaker on a wall near the floor, identify the switch controlling the HVAC system’s shore power, and turn it off.

Step 2: Wait and Restore the Power Supply

  • Next, wait patiently for about 30 minutes.
  • Use this time to inspect the circuit breaker for tripping signs indicated by its position between “on” and “off.”
  • After the designated wait time, turn the circuit breaker back on and wait an additional minute.
  • Finally, switch the RV AC back on, ensuring the thermostat is set to the “cool” mode when the AC turns on.

Tips for Keeping Your RV AC in Top Shape and Avoid Clicking Noise

Now that I have covered the steps to reset your RV AC quickly, let’s explore some maintenance tips that can be easily incorporated into your routine to ensure the longevity of your RV AC:

Tips for Keeping Your RV AC in Top Shape and Avoid Clicking Noise
Credit: www.youtube.com @DIYJIM
  • Before doing anything, always turn off and disconnect the RV AC from power to stay safe.
  • Clean the air filters every two weeks to avoid dust buildup. Running the AC without a filter can make it less effective.
  • Use mild soap and a soft cloth to clean the air distribution box housing and control board. Avoid harsh materials like scouring pads or furniture polish.
  • Regularly inspect for leaks, especially around condenser coils and the gasket sealing the unit to the RV roof. Leaks can cause efficiency problems and water damage.
  • Cover the RV AC with a good A/C cover to prevent dirt and debris buildup when not in use.
  • While on the roof, inspect seals and tighten screws or bolts. This ensures a tight seal, preventing leaks and reducing buzzing noise.
  • Once a year, check the condenser and evaporator coils for dirt or leaves. If your AC isn’t cooling well, there might be an issue with the control board.
  • Some units need periodic lubrication for the blower motor. Check the RV owner manual for instructions and the correct oil type, usually SAE 20 non-detergent oil. You can find it on Amazon, or a heating and cooling parts supplier.

Exploring the Lifespan of Your RV AC Unit: What to Expect?

In my RV adventures, I’ve learned many things about the lifespan of air conditioning units that I will highlight for you. Typically, the average lifespan of an RV air conditioner is in the range of 3 to 5 years. However, this is a good benchmark to keep in mind. Moreover, if you have invested in a heavy-duty RV AC unit, it could potentially last a decade or even longer.

Exploring the Lifespan of Your RV AC Unit: What to Expect?
Credit: www.youtube.com @AllAboutRVs

Over time, it’s normal for some parts of an air conditioner to wear out, but the good news is that individual parts of the RV AC can often be repaired or replaced. If the fan and other critical components are in good working order, there’s hope for a fix. So, watch for signs of aging, such as:

  • Reduced efficiency;
  • Clicking noise;
  • Inconsistent cooling.

These all could be indicators that certain components may need attention. The measures I take to extend the lifespan of my RV AC include cleaning filters, checking leaks, and ensuring proper airflow.

Ricky Smalls
Just like the seasons change, your RV AC has different stages, too. Learn how to care for it so it can be your trusty travel companion, giving you a refreshing breeze wherever you go.Ricky Smalls, An Avid Camper and Senior Author at CamperLife

RV AC Problems: Users Experience

The firsthand experiences outlined below provide valuable insights into addressing and preventing RV AC problems. They cover a range of solutions, from technical fixes to practical strategies for improved cooling. However, let’s have a look at the following problems faced by RV owners:

Bob & Donna's Input

Here’s what Bob and Dana pointed out:

  • Issue Tackled: Installed a hard start capacitor to deal with A/C won’t turn on challenges and highlighted the relevance of this fix, especially for small generators attempting to power the A/C.
  • Bad Capacitor Check: They emphasized the importance of examining capacitors, mentioning signs of failure like bulging or burnt marks.
  • Troubleshooting Tip: Suggested checking the circuit breaker but acknowledged that more troubleshooting might be necessary.
  • Affordable Fix: Recommended checking capacitors first as they are relatively inexpensive, typically priced between $20-$30.
Darlene's Cooling Strategies

When I talked with Darlene, her focus was on improving cooling. Here’s a breakdown of the discussion:

  • Shade Priority: Advocated for parking in the shade as a primary preventive measure.
  • Reflectix Addition: Proposed the use of Reflectix on windows for added insulation.
  • Air Circulation: Advised employing fans to circulate cool air effectively.
  • Consideration for 2nd A/C: Shared personal experience of having three A/C units in a 43′ toy hauler, suggesting the consideration of an additional A/C.
Alex's Perspective on Replacement

The following list highlights the important points shared by Alex:

  • Optimal Solution: Proposed replacing the A/C unit as the best solution.
  • Packaged A/C Limitations: Highlighted the limitations of recharging freon in packaged units like window units and RV rooftop units.
  • Leak Challenges: Noted the difficulty in locating cracks in tubing if a leak occurs, making replacement a more practical option.
  • Frequency of Low Freon: Shared the perspective that low freon issues are rare in packaged units.


Why is my RV AC not kicking on?

If your RV AC is not kicking on, check for tripped circuit breakers, inspect bad capacitors for damage, and ensure the thermostat is set correctly. If the issue persists, consider professional inspection for electrical, compressor, or broken contactor problems.

Why does my AC unit make noise but won’t turn on?

If your AC unit makes a clicking noise but won’t turn on, it may indicate bad capacitor issues or a malfunctioning fan motor. Inspect components for damage and consult a professional for further diagnosis and repairs if needed.

Can you add freon to a trailer AC?

No, generally, RV AC units are not designed for freon recharge. If the system is low on refrigerant, it’s often a sign of a leak, necessitating troubleshooting and potential replacement.

Does RV AC need to be recharged?

Typically, RV AC units don’t need recharging. Low refrigerant levels may signal a leak, requiring professional evaluation. Regular maintenance, like cleaning filters, helps ensure optimal performance without recharging.


In the end, if your RV AC clicks but won’t turn on, various reasons might need early troubleshooting. A few of them include malfunctioning thermostat issues, low refrigerant levels, and control board glitches. To avoid these issues, ensure to check the condenser coils. Plus, apply lubricants to the blower motor frequently and try to clean the air filters every two weeks.

There might be a possibility that the issue is way more significant and uncontrollable, so I recommend getting in touch with an HVAC professional. Do you face RV won’t turn on issues frequently, or is this your first time? Share your experience with me in the comment section below, and I will gladly assist you if needed!

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