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Your Condenser (AC Condenser) worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
The air conditioner condenser: function, defects and repair
The AC condenser is one of the most important components of an air conditioning system in a car and plays an instrumental role in its function. The air conditioner can no longer function with a defective condenser and the driver notices the damage right away. We show you how the AC condenser works, steps to observe for its replacement and the expected costs.
The air conditioner condenser in the car and its function
The air conditioner condenser works together closely with the compressor and ensures the cooling of the air temperature in the car at the desired level. The air conditioner condenser is located in the front of the car directly behind the radiator grille. Its replacement should be rather easy although a non-experienced DIY'er might run into several problems.
Defective air conditioner condenser: how to recognise damage
An AC condenser defect causes several symptoms, often so unmistakable that damage is soon noticed and then directly allocated to the air conditioner condenser. The possible symptoms of a defective condenser are:
- The air conditioner can no longer regulate the desired temperature
- the smell of the coolant is clearly detectable in the car interior
- windows fog on the inside when the air conditioner is on
- when the car is parked for a longer period of time, a visible coolant puddle develops under the engine.
DIY replacement or have it replaced?
DIY replacement of the air conditioner condenser is not difficult at all. Nevertheless, these repairs require a good deal of attention and care, as you run the risk of coming into contact with the air conditioner coolant, which is harmful for you as well as for the environnment. In case you lack the experience of elementary repair, have the air conditioner condenser replacement executed in a professional garage.
Repair or replacement? What is possible?
Repairing an air conditioner condenser is not really an option. Condenser leakage can hardly be lastingly repaired or corrected. This does not apply when the leakage occurs in the hoses or gaskets. In this case, the air conditioner condenser doesn't need to be replaced.
Step by step replacement
- Start by placing the car over a pit or on a lifting platform. In emergency cases, jacking up the car suffices on condition that the car is secured.
- Now drain the coolant from the cooling circuit. Ensure that the coolant is completely collected.
- clamp and disconnect the air conditioner condenser lines.
- Unscrew the mounting bolts.
- remove the air conditioner condenser and replace it by a new component.
- Tighten all bolts and connect all lines.
- Add new coolant into the cooling circuit and adapt the amount. Determining the optimal coolant amount requires a lot of experience. Consulting the car manual can be very helpful.
What to observe when replacing the air conditioner condenser
- Completely collect the coolant and dispose of it according to regulation. Ensure adequate protection of mouth, nose, eyes and hands.
- Filling the cooling circuit with the correct amount of coolant is often difficult for laymen. If necessary, ask assistance from a professional garage.
You can minimise costs by performing the entire repair yourself. A new air conditioner condenser costs – depending on car and car manufacturer – between 80 and 300 EUR (±£70 - £265). The necessary coolant comes on top of that. Replacement in a garage makes it really expensive. A garage will start by making a diagnosis, then drain the coolant, perform disassembly and installation, subsequently add coolant and perform a leakage check. Depending on car and garage the working fee will amount to between 200 and 400 EUR. (± £180 - £360). All in all expect costs between 280 and 700 EUR (±£245 - £615) when having the replacement executed by a garage.