Back in the days, having an AC in the car was considered a luxury. These days, it’s a basic car feature that most of us take for granted. Of course, we do expect the air conditioner to perform efficiently at all times. But then, some non-performing parts may cause it not to run as efficiently as it should.
If your air conditioner is knocking out hot air as opposed to cold air, the chances are that the AC condenser in it is blocked or broken. The condenser is supposed to cool down the AC gas. It converts high-pressure gas into a somewhat low-pressure liquid, which is normally required for AC functionality.
In most cars, the AC condenser is located at the front of the vehicle, making it easy to inspect it for potential issues. If you suspect that your AC condenser needs a repair, let’s make you aware of the cost that goes into fixing it.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace The AC Condenser?
As expected, many different factors determine the cost of a new AC condenser, such as the brand of the part, the place you go to, and the seasonal workload of the mechanic at the time of your visit.
Generally speaking, it should cost you anywhere between $400 to $1200 to replace the AC condenser. The price of the part starts from $200, and it can go all the way up to $600, depending on the brand and the car you drive.
The labor cost would vary from $100 to $600, depending on the hourly rates of the shop and the time of the year you visit the shop. As hinted earlier, expect to pay more if you are visiting the shop at peak seasons.
Bad AC Condenser Causes Discussed:
Wear and Tear
Wear and tear of the tubes and seals caused due to normal aging/use is often cited to be the main cause of the AC condenser going bad. Keep in mind that the worn-out seals cannot be replaced in isolation. The whole AC condenser unit would need a replacement.
Driving on potholes, rocks, and other undesirable road conditions can also damage the condenser. The impact of driving on these surfaces can actually puncture the condenser. As a result, it will fail to perform as usual.
Besides regular wear and tear, debris getting inside the AC condenser can also cause it to malfunction. The accumulated debris blocks the flow of refrigerant inside the condenser, ultimately damaging the condenser.
Important Pointers: Keep in mind that you can drive with a faulty AC condenser, but it’s not recommended. Although it won’t harm the vehicle, it would make it extremely unpleasant to drive around in warm weather. The good thing is that you can prolong the life of the AC condenser by cleaning it periodically.
You can clean it yourself or go to a mechanic. After all, maintaining the AC condenser is way cheaper than repairing or replacing it. For maximum efficiency, you should also clean other parts of the air conditioning unit, such as the cabin air filter, vents, and condenser fan.
What are the Symptoms of a Failed AC Condenser?
Lukewarm Air from the AC
This is usually the first symptom that you will encounter when faced with a bad AC condenser. The AC vents will throw out lukewarm air as opposed to cold air. In such a scenario, the AC condenser must be checked for blockages, which may be restricting the airflow.
When the AC condenser is not working as expected, the temperature within the cooling system heats up. Believe it or not, a few parts may even reach a boiling point. Some of the components may even start burning. Subsequently, you will be exposed to a burning smell as soon as you turn on the AC.
As discussed earlier, the car parts may heat up when the AC condenser fails to emit heat out of the air conditioning unit. If excess heat is allowed to accumulate within the system, the vehicle will heat up, even when it’s sitting idle.
The AC condenser houses some refrigerants, which can leak under higher than usual temperatures. As such, a coolant leak is normal wear and tear process. The key is to stop the leak before the system loses all the coolant. This will help you avoid an expensive repair.
Many of the newer vehicles will alert you of the AC condenser issue by emitting a warning light. In other words, the dashboard light in most modern cars will turn on as soon as the vehicle detects a problem with the AC condenser.
AC Condenser Replacement Procedure:
Home mechanics are usually not advised to replace the AC condenser on their own because a job of this nature is not only complex but also quite dangerous. The air conditioning refrigerant is harmful both for you and the environment.
Not to mention that a person will also need certain specialized tools for the job, which most weekend warriors may not have handy with them. In other words, a failed AC condenser must be checked by a qualified car mechanic who knows his job very well.
Generally speaking, a well-trained mechanic will look for clogged passages, leaks in the pinhole, and external damages to the tubes or fins and then proceed to replace the AC condenser. To put it simply, the mechanic will try to determine the exact source of the problem and the scale of damage caused by the issue by the time it’s arrived at the garage.
This will tell him what other parts need to be replaced along with the condenser. Here are the steps involved:
- The mechanic will visually inspect the air condenser for leaks and damages.
- He will also measure the AC system pressure by installing an AC gauge set.
- If it’s determined that the condenser needs a replacement, he will empty all the gas from it.
- He will then remove the condenser and replace it with a new air conditioning condenser.
- Usually, the front bumper needs to be removed to gain access to the AC condenser.
- The AC system will be evacuated, and new refrigerants will be injected into the AC system.
- Following this, the mechanic will inspect the car for potential system leaks.
- Finally, the mechanic will test the operation of the AC system by driving the car.
Important Pointers: At the time of AC condenser replacement, the receiver dryer, compressor, and orifice tubes are replaced as well to ensure that the air conditioning unit works as efficiently as it should. If you are replacing the AC condenser on your own, make sure to collect all the refrigerants for safe disposal as per the regulations.
Also, ensure that your mouth, eyes, nose, and hands are adequately protected at the time of coolant disposal. Another thing that you need to be careful about is filling the coolant to the desired level. Frankly speaking, it’s difficult for a non-mechanical person to fill the correct amount of coolant in the system.
If required, seek professional advice from a local garage so that you don’t mess up things, which can lead to an expensive repair or even a health hazard.
AC Condenser Costs: How to Save Money?
As described earlier, don’t try saving on the labor cost by attempting to replace the AC condenser on your own. A mechanical job of this nature requires a great deal of expertise and experience. Also, one should be meticulous about not damaging other car parts in the process.
Of course, if you have done a similar job in the past, you can attempt it, provided you are 100% certain that you can do it carefully and safely. Otherwise, you can save money by comparing quotes from a few different mechanics in your area to shortlist the one that provides the best deal.
- How Much Does It Cost To Replace The AC Condenser?
- Bad AC Condenser Causes Discussed:
- What are the Symptoms of a Failed AC Condenser?
- AC Condenser Replacement Procedure:
- AC Condenser Costs: How to Save Money?