How Much Does an AC Evaporator Replacement Cost?

Driving a car around in the summer wouldn’t be much fun without the air conditioning system to cool us off, would it?

While all these car parts have their own exciting usages, we’re going to be focusing today on enlightening you, dear reader, on the evaporator. 

Specifically, you’ll learn about the car AC evaporator replacement cost, how it works, where to get a replacement, and much more! Shiny nuggets of knowledge await – keep reading to uncover them.

Car AC components

What’s the Price of an AC Evaporator Replacement?

The car evaporator core replacement cost ranges from $5.78 – $1,084.56. We’ve gathered these figures based off of pricing received from multiple auto parts retailers. But what exactly causes the prices of these parts to shoot up at the high end? Let’s find out.

Aftermarket parts, in general, vary in price based on the seller or the location of the store. Many manufacturers use standard aluminum materials but others may use a more durable grade. 

AC evaporators are pretty small and the design is fairly similar across the board. High-quality parts will definitely cost more than standard ones!

When shopping for replacement parts, pay attention to the brand. They might all seem mostly the same, but different brands have different prices. Some of the most popular brands include Behr, Spectra Premium, Mopar, and Rein.

The type of car that you own also makes a big difference in regards to the price. If your car is old, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the part will be cheaper, either.

Some old automobiles, especially vintage ones, cost more for a part replacement! 

For example, a TYC evaporator core for a 2018 Toyota Corolla costs $40. But the same part for a 2005 Kia Rio costs $95.

Take a look at some of the price lists that we’ve put together below. Our specialists have worked with industry experts to determine the total price of an AC evaporator replacement based on the make and model of the car. These price ranges include the cost of the part along with the labor fee:

VehicleTotal
Ford F-150$696 – $898
Honda Accord$270 – $579
Toyota Camry$308 – $1,212
Chevrolet Silverado 1500$724 – $1,131
Honda Civic$266 – $566
Toyota Corolla$267 – $1,039
Nissan Altima$427 – $1,017
Ford Explorer$838 – $1,025

Where to Have an AC Evaporator Replaced?

First of all, dealerships are better to visit if your car is still under warranty. You may pay reduced rates for the repair or possibly even nothing at all! 

If your car isn’t under warranty, it’s better to haul it to an independent mechanic. Here are some good auto shops to look out for in your local area:

  • Guaranteed Automotive & Transmission
  • Village Tire & Auto Repair
  • Harlan Automotive
  • Tech One Automotive
  • Sparks Computerized Car Care
  • Spiteri’s Auto Service

You can use your local directories or phone books as a reference. Just so you’re aware, the average amount that you can expect to pay for a repair at an automotive shop is about $550 – $700. 

If, however, you can’t or won’t bring the car in for inspection you have another option – to attempt a replacement on your own. Being knowledgeable with the inner workings of your car is a great way to save money by having the capability to conduct small repairs.

What Does an AC Evaporator Do?

The technology works almost the same as the one that’s used to keep the groceries in your refrigerator cold. In case you ever wondered how your fridge was able to create ice in the freezer, you’re about to find out!

The first thing to take note of, the air conditioning system has nothing to do with the engine cooling system. Some people tend to get confused and mix up the two! The air conditioning system is simply to provide cool air for the comfort and convenience of the passengers in the cabin.

The evaporator is also known as the evaporator core. An automobile AC system can have up to three heat exchangers and the evaporator is one of them.

Here’s a bit of science trivia: a heat exchanger is a device that allows heat from a fluid to transfer to another fluid without the two mixing together! The evaporator itself resembles a small radiator, and in fact, they work in almost exactly the same way.

Instead of passing coolant through internal tubes which lead to fins, like on a radiator, the evaporator passes moving refrigerant through the tubes. What is refrigerant, you might ask? You may have heard the term “Freon” before – they are one and the same!

In fact, Freon was actually the most popular type of refrigerant in the United States, used in automobiles up until 1994 when it was finally discontinued in favor of a new type. But the name stuck and people still call refrigerant as Freon, and vice versa.

The evaporator is typically found either in the passenger compartment or under the instrument panel. Some cars even have two evaporators – one under the instrument panel and the other toward the rear of the vehicle. The part is made of aluminum.

So how does the whole thing even work? Refrigerant, which is sent from a different component of the air conditioning system, enters the evaporator. A blower fan then pushes warm air (from a warm part of the vehicle) into the fins and through the evaporator, making contact with the refrigerant. Since the refrigerant is cooler, it absorbs the heat from the warm air.

While this is going on, humidity forms and condenses on the outside of the evaporator; eventually dripping through a tube and exiting the car. Now that the refrigerant is slightly warmer, it continues on its path through the evaporator and on to the compressor.

Therefore, the AC evaporator is only a small piece of the entire puzzle. If it fails to function properly, the cooling system will be unable to use the refrigerant for what it was intended to do.

What Causes A Malfunctioning AC Evaporator?

Most of the problems that can possibly occur with an AC evaporator have to do with leaks. There are a couple of different reasons why leakage happens. Usually, a seam or weld has burst; creating a leak point.

Seams can become degraded when leaves or other organic material enter the evaporator case through the external air intake vents. Corrosion will form soon afterward. 

Leaks can also develop due to defects in the manufacturing process.

If you’ve noticed a sweet-smelling liquid on the ground under your vehicle, you can be sure there’s a leak. But, finding the leak can be difficult since you can’t actually see the evaporator core with your naked eyes.

However, there are a few things that can help you out. Professionals utilize tools such as an electronic leak detector to pinpoint the exact source of any dripping fluids. Sometimes a colored dye is added to the system in order to track the refrigerant. Other times, a detector probe is inserted into the evaporator drain.

All of these methods are tried and proven and usually utilized by professional mechanics. A technician can sometimes even take up to a week to find the source of the leak even after using everything at their disposal!

For this reason, it’s recommended to bring your vehicle in for inspection if you can see puddles of fluid on the ground or have other reasons to believe that there’s a leaky evaporator causing havoc.

Author Bio

Brad Dias

Brad Dias is a formula car racing driver, automotive enthusiast, and writer. He has been featured on industry leading websites like motorsport.com, Drive Tribe, Evo India, Virtual Racing School, and various other newspapers.
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