A/C Accumulator Buyer's Guide
- An A/C accumulator is a cylinder-shaped component designed to remove moisture, oil, and debris found in your cooling system.
- Within its body is a desiccant that absorbs moisture. It is located between the evaporator and the compressor in what is known as the low-pressure area of your A/C system.
- Cars make use of three kinds of hydraulic accumulators: diaphragm, piston, and bladder.
- A car’s air conditioning unit can either have an accumulator or a receiver/drier, but not both. Although these components have different names, their appearance and function are the same.
- Both functions as filters in their respective systems to ensure that only pure vapor enters the compressor.
- If this accumulator fails, it could lead to a refrigerant leak, unpleasant odor, and reduced cooling performance.
- A replacement A/C accumulator can cost you around $15 to as much as $500, depending on your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
- When buying an A/C accumulator, make sure it fits the specification and settings of your vehicle.
Every drive is cool and comfortable thanks to your car’s A/C system. This system is made up of the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and, depending on what vehicle you own, an accumulator and orifice tube, or a thermal expansion valve and a receiver/drier. All of these parts work together to keep the air inside your passenger cabin chilled.
If one component fails, your A/C might stop working altogether and lead to an uncomfortable ride. One part, the A/C accumulator, is prone to malfunctioning. To help prevent unprecedented breakdowns in your A/C, here’s everything you need to know about an A/C accumulator, what it does, and when to replace it.
What is an A/C accumulator?
If your car is a newer model, it probably has an orifice tube and an A/C accumulator. An A/C accumulator is a cylinder-shaped component designed to remove moisture, oil, and debris found in your cooling system. Within its body is a desiccant that absorbs moisture. It is located between the evaporator and the compressor in what is known as the low-pressure area of your A/C system.
What does an A/C accumulator do?
An A/C accumulator prevents liquid, debris, and oil from passing through to the compressor. Its primary function is to filter the refrigerant passing through its inlet tube, so only vapor exits its outlet tube to the compressor. Any liquid refrigerant coming from the evaporator sinks to the bottom of the accumulator where the desiccant absorbs it. On the other hand, the vapor remains at the top and passes through the tube before flowing out of the accumulator and to the compressor.
Types of A/C accumulator
Not all cars use the same kind of A/C accumulator. Here are the different types and where they are usually found.
Cars use hydraulic accumulators in their cooling systems. Here are three of the most common types used in different vehicles.
The diaphragm accumulator is great for heavy-duty trucks and vehicles, although it can be used in most cars. It is efficient in absorbing hydraulic shocks and can easily store energy under extreme pressure.
The piston accumulator has a high flow rate as compared to the two other types. As this is made of rubber, it can withstand extreme temperatures. This component is adaptable to most car types and models.
This type of accumulator is by far the most popular among the three. It has a high gas compression ratio, high dirt tolerance, and the quickest response. It is also the lightest and easiest accumulator to install, perfect for small cars and vehicles made for racing.
Aside from having various types of accumulators, sometimes vehicles have a different component entirely. In place of an A/C accumulator, other cars make use of a receiver/drier.
Receiver drier vs accumulator
A car’s air conditioning unit can either have an accumulator or a receiver/drier, but not both. Although these components have different names, their appearance and function are the same. Both functions as filters in their respective systems to ensure that only pure vapor enters the compressor.
The main difference between the accumulator and receiver drier is where you can find them. Compared to an accumulator, the receiver/drier is also smaller in size.
Receiver/drier components are found in older cars along with a thermostatic expansion valve, whereas an A/C accumulator is found in newer vehicles with an orifice tube. Both parts contain a desiccant that helps draw moisture from the vapor to be returned to the compressor.
Why is an A/C accumulator important?
The A/C accumulator is an integral component of your vehicle’s A/C system. Without it, your A/C system ceases to function. It ensures the refrigerant continues properly circulating to keep providing you with cool air. Aside from that, it is also responsible for maintaining the refrigerant free from any debris and impurities. As refrigerant needs to be kept pure while it cycles from liquid to gas to produce cool air, the accumulator is essential to your cooling system.
If this part fails, it could lead to a refrigerant leak, unpleasant odor, and reduced cooling performance.
When to replace your A/C accumulator
An A/C system operates straightforwardly, so it can be easy to tell when a malfunction happens. If your A/C vents stop blowing out cool air, this may be a sign of a problem in your cooling unit. One cause for this might be a failing A/C accumulator.
Another sign of a faulty A/C accumulator is when your vents start to leak. A busted accumulator won’t be able to filter liquid refrigerant from entering the compressor. The result is refrigerant mixing in with moisture, creating an acid so corrosive that it burns holes through the hoses and causes leaks. A leaking cooling unit shouldn’t be ignored, as this could lead to more expensive repairs.
Lastly, a clogged A/C accumulator may produce a foreign odor that could irritate your sinuses. When enough moisture enters the system, it becomes a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which produces the foul odor you may notice wafting from your cooling unit.
All of these symptoms are commonly found in vehicles with a faulty A/C accumulator. If you observe your car suffering from even just one of these, consider replacing your accumulator immediately. The best time to replace your accumulator is at the first sign of trouble. Don’t wait for it to get worse before getting an A/C accumulator replacement.
How much is an A/C accumulator?
A replacement A/C accumulator can cost you around $15 to as much as $500, depending on your vehicle’s year, make, and model. A/C accumulator costs also depend on its location, brand, and quantity. Although this component is usually sold individually, it can also be sold as part of an assembly.
Finding the right fit
When buying an A/C accumulator, make sure it fits the specification and settings of your vehicle. If you are unsure, refer to your owner’s manual. Get the right A/C accumulator for your vehicle by entering its year, make, and model into our search engine. You can also filter your search according to your preferred brand, price range, and location. Just click search and browse through our selection of high-grade A/C accumulators.