Think you knew every part of your car? Think again! Some of the internal parts such as the ones involved in the air conditioning system aren’t very well known but they are very important.
If you’re not the type to poke around under the hood of your car and have limited knowledge about a car’s inner workings, the AC condenser is probably virtually unknown to you.
We’re here to shed some light on the mysteries of the automobile air conditioning system and hopefully spark your interest in learning more about how it all works!
What’s the Price of an AC Condenser Replacement?
So, how much does an AC condenser even cost? You may have a pre-conceived idea that the part lies on the lower end of the spectrum, but no, we’re here to tell you that it’s one of the costlier pieces.
Based on the research that we’ve done with industry experts and various online retailers, the cost to replace an AC condenser is about $80 – $690 and that’s just the average price of the part alone.
The price range varies based on a number of factors including brand, type of vehicle, and location of the store. Certain popular brands such as ACDelco and Spyder provide the parts at cheaper prices while Griffiths and Motorcraft have higher-end options.
Here’s something to give you an idea of the price fluctuation in terms of the year, make, and model of the car. An ACDelco original equipment AC condenser for a 2018 Cadillac XT5 will cost $87, but the same part for a 2018 Chevy City Express will cost $320.
Shown below is a list of different vehicles types with the total amount for a replacement shown in the right column. This total price already includes the labor fee.
|2011 Chevrolet Tahoe||$530|
|2006 Buick Rendezvous||$659|
|2009 GMC Yukon XL 1500||$633|
|2004 Audi A4 Quattro||$593|
|2006 Lexus GS430||$713|
|2008 Chevrolet Corvette||$504|
Where to Get an AC Condenser Replaced?
If you thought that this car part was costly, you’re in for a surprise – that’s only half the story! On the other hand, you’ll also need to pay a labor fee for a mechanic to actually do the work in replacing it.
This repair job is quite lengthy and can end up costing an average of $400 to $600. We’ve checked with various automotive companies and that’s how much you can expect to pay for the labor to get an AC condenser replaced.
But where is the actual best place to have the work performed at?
You can start by skimming through phone books, asking a friend or checking online. A few very good auto shops which employ trusted mechanics are Integrity Automotive, Jeff’s Auto Repair, Metric Motors, Silver Lake Auto, and Ulmer’s Auto Care.
Replacing an AC condenser is an extensive job that’s best left to the professionals. There are a lot of other car parts to remove before the condenser is even visible, and specialized tools and equipment must be utilized to take out the old refrigerant.
With that being said, we have created a guide for you to follow in the event that you choose to conduct the repair on your own. Do so at your own risk. The guide is located in the last section.
What is an AC Condenser?
An automobile’s air conditioning system uses five different parts, of which the condenser is just one. The device works just like a radiator and looks just like it too. And just like a radiator, the AC condenser is a heat exchanger.
It’s built out of aluminum in a series of tubes with fins around them and is located at the front of the automobile, just like the radiator.
When refrigerant passes through the AC evaporator, it is warm, and the condenser’s job is to cool it down. The air that passes through the car’s front grill cools off the refrigerant as it passes through the condenser’s tubes.
The refrigerant that enters the condenser is actually in the form of a high-pressure vapor at that point. But after cooling down, it turns back into a liquid. So instead of cooling down hot engine coolant in the radiator, the condenser allows refrigerant used by the air conditioning system to become cool.
Awesome, right? Without this great and complex system of components, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy frosty air conditioning in the cabin.
But the AC condenser is located in a vulnerable position – near the front of the car – which means that as air is blasted at it while a car is moving, other small objects such as leaves, insects, debris, and dust can block it up and cause it to malfunction.
The tubes can also become blocked internally. This happens when the compressor fails and small pieces of metal fall into the refrigerant and travel along with it.
These particles will eventually become trapped in the thin tubes of the condenser. Sometimes they can be flushed out. But in the case of a severe blockage, the entire part will need to be replaced.
What Causes an AC Condenser to Go Bad?
Well, aside from your AC system completely shutting off, there are only a few ways to tell if the AC condenser itself is having a specific problem.
The first and most obvious symptom of a bad AC condenser is if the air conditioning is running slowly or seems to be blowing warm air. Any damage to the condenser will result in decreased efficiency in terms of how well the air conditioning system is able to function.
If the internal tubes are broken or blocked up, leaks can form and the refrigerant will be unable to reach its final destination. You’ll soon notice the loss in cooling power and may even spot a puddle or two of fluid forming under the car.
Leaks can also occur due to manufacturer’s defects and even simply because of old age. They can be big or small, depending on the extent of the damage. Once all the highly-pressurized refrigerant leaks out, the entire AC system will shut down.
Normally, any damage to the condenser will result in a replacement since the entire part is constructed as one piece. Of course, other parts of the system besides the condenser can cause a failure too.
As soon as you spot any symptom of a problematic AC condenser or associated part, it’s recommended that you have it inspected by a mechanic immediately!
Should You Try DIY?
Replacing an AC condenser could be considered as a task fit only for dedicated home mechanics and those with experience with conducting repairs. The reason is that the process entails a lot of steps and as well as that, the pressurized refrigerant can be dangerous if accidentally released.
Refrigerant needs to be recovered properly and not simply let out into the atmosphere. In fact, it’s illegal to do so. You’ll need to make sure that you have all the correct tools to complete the repair.
Auto shops have the equipment needed to do this job, so if it’s not worth your while, it’s recommended to just bring the car to a shop.
To remove and replace refrigerant, you’ll need to purchase a refrigerant recovery machine and recovery tank which will handle most of the hard work. Again, keep in mind that the job should not be attempted without this machine and you need to be trained to use it.