Have you recently checked your car's air conditioning system? This may not be as important during colder months... but come summer, your air-conditioning system will be desperately needed. Having a well maintained air-conditioning system is a must for proper ventilation and for your comfort inside your car.
When taking care of your car's air conditioning system, it is important to know its component parts. Among these are the condenser, compressors and drier/accumulator. All of these play an important role in the cooling of your car.
The process of cooling your car happens in a closed loop. It starts with the compressor. The compressor takes in low-pressure refrigerant gas, usually freon gas, from the air-conditioning system's inlet side, which is composed of a evaporator and accumulator or drier. The receiver drier takes all the water and other contaminants out of the air-conditioning system. In the compressor, gas is compressed and converted into a high pressure and high temperature gas. The hot refrigerant is then passed into the condenser, which is a major part of the air-conditioning system's low pressure side, where the refrigerant is again cooled and is passed back to the drier, forming a closed loop.
In order to keep your air-conditioning to be in tip-top shape, it is important to always to keep the system properly maintained. Always have your air-conditioning system inspected by your local AC specialist. If any part is damaged, it has to be immediately repaired. If it needs to be replaced, there are a lot of sources to get from.
AC Condenser Buyer's Guide
- The A/C condenser is a kind of heat exchanger that somehow looks like a thinner engine radiator.
- A/C condenser absorbs and releases heat from the pressurized gas and prepares the coolant for the final cooling process.
- Replace your A/C condenser once you start noticing warm air coming out of the A/C vents or when there’s a burnt odor coming out of the vents.
- Overheating that subsides after the car has moved is also a sign of failing A/C condenser.
- It costs around $80 to $2,200
- Replacing a faulty A/C condenser saves you from more expensive problems like a full A/C system failure
In able for your car’s air conditioning (A/C) unit to handle the pressurized gas from the compressor, it needs a condenser. The A/C condenser is a kind of heat exchanger that somehow looks like a thinner engine radiator. It is mounted behind the grille and in front of the radiator for it to cool off with the help of the wind. A/C condensers nowadays are made of aluminum, while older models had copper coils.
How do car A/C systems work?
Before you get to enjoy the cold breeze inside the cabin, the A/C unit needs to perform a series of tasks. A car’s A/C unit features a closed loop system which houses a pressurized agent known as the refrigerant. Closed loop means that the system needs to stay blocked from atmospheric pressure that can ruin the circulation of the refrigerant during the cooling process. If there is a leak somewhere in the valves or you’re A/C compressor, your cabin can transform into a giant oven during the day.
First, a compressor circulates the refrigerant by compressing it in its gas state and passing it to the condenser through the high pressure valves. The A/C fan then cools down the refrigerant inside the condenser and turns it into liquid. The liquid refrigerant then travels to the evaporator, where it instantly turns back into gas. The rapid expansion of the liquid to gas state cools the refrigerant instantly. This cool air is blasted by the blower fan through your A/C vents, cooling your cabin despite the scorching afternoon heat.
Why does the A/C unit need a condenser?
After the refrigerant has passed the compressor, it heats up as a result of the compression process. If you take the condenser out from the system, nothing will process and cool the hot gas before it gets transformed to liquid. If the uncooled refrigerant passes the expansion valve without passing the condenser first, you’ll only get to feel warm air coming out from the A/C vents. Thing is, your A/C condenser is responsible for dropping great amount of temperature of the compressed gas outside of the system, in preparation for the final cooling in the expansion valve.
Signs of a broken A/C condenser
If you’re afraid that your A/C condenser might be broken, don’t ignore it. The best thing to do is bring your car to a service center and have it checked. You may also, however, observe some of these signs before jumping to conclusions.
Warm air coming out of the vents
Warm air coming out of the A/C vents is a cause of a malfunctioning A/C condenser. If the A/C condenser becomes too hot, it won’t be able to cool the refrigerant down as it gets passed on to the evaporator. This is one of the first signs you’ll encounter if the A/C condenser is not working.
Overheating that subsides once the car moves
The condenser handles the hottest state of the refrigerant, which when not cooled off immediately may affect the engine temperature. In worse cases, this could result in engine overheating, even when the car’s idling. You’ll know it’s not a problem inside the engine if the overheating subsides when the car is in motion.
Burnt odor when immediately after turning the A/C on
If the A/C condenser fails to process the refrigerant, it heats up continuously. This overheating can affect all the A/C unit’s components and could result in a burnt odor that’s fanned out of the vents. The longer you ignore this burning smell, the more damage your A/C condenser—worse, the whole system—will face.
How much is an OE replacement A/C condenser?
If you ever find yourself with a damaged A/C condenser, don’t hesitate to purchase for an OE replacement part and have it installed right away. Prolonging the damage may result to bigger problems that could affect other neighboring components. A/C condensers cost roughly around $80 to $2,200, which is relatively cheaper than replacing an entire A/C system. Just keep in mind to indicate your vehicle’s year, make, and model when shopping for OE replacement parts to get an accurate list of all the components that fit it.
The benefit of replacing a broken A/C condenser
A car without an A/C unit, especially during the summer, is like an oven toaster with wheels. If your cabin gets too how, it could amp up the stress levels of the driver and passengers. The discomfort caused by a hot cabin could result to impatience, short temper, and fatigue. So to keep your cool, you must also keep your cabin cool at all times by making sure the A/C condenser is properly working. It could also save you from bigger expenses that a damaged A/C system can cost you.
Important Facts You Need to Know About AC Condenser
Beat the heat in your cab with new a/c condenser in place of your stock.
Remember the days when you used to hang your wet clothes at the back of your refrigerator? That's way back when refrigerator condensers were still sticking out behind the refrigerator. They were useful, yes. But do you know what made them warm? It's the refrigerant from the compressor, condensed and warm because of the heat it has collected from inside the refrigerator compartment. That's the same way your automobile air conditioner (A/C) works. It also has an A/C condenser right in front of the radiator of your auto.
An auto A/C condenser looks like a small radiator. It has fins through which the refrigerant, usually Freon gas, passes for heat dissipation. This heat is absorbed from your vehicle compartment via the evaporator. As soon as the refrigerant enters the top of the condenser, condensation begins. The gas then exits through the condenser bottom as high-pressure liquid. The condenser is usually backed by the engine's cooling fan (among rear-wheel drive vehicles) or electric cooling fans (among front-wheel drive vehicles) to help dissipate heat.
The A/C condenser is situated right after the compressor and before the receiver dryer. So if you want to check it for inspection or maintenance services, you can easily see it there. Its position in the engine bay makes it easy to be replaced should you find it already erratic or damaged. You can find an aftermarket replacement for this part either in online stores or auto parts shops.
AC Condenser: Just the Facts
No matter what time of the year it is, a road trip with family or friends can definitely be fun and exciting. But, not so fast! Before you get on the road, you better make sure your vehicle's air conditioning (A/C) system is in good shape.
Among the A/C components you shouldn't forget to check is the A/C compressor. Driven by a belt, the A/C compressor is the refrigerant's first stop in the A/C cycle.The compressor draws and pressurizes refrigerant from the evaporator, and pumps the high–pressure refrigerant to the condenser. This refrigerant is what eventually absorbs the heat present in your vehicle's cabin.
To extend the service life of the A/C compressor, proper lubrication is recommended. Lubrication minimizes the part's tendency to seize or lock up, guaranteeing more reliable compressor functions.When it's time to replace your vehicle's stock A/C compressor, make sure you shop only at the right store. To ensure that you get the best replacement, trust only Car Parts.
- Pumps out the refrigerant that absorbs heat and cools your car's cabin
- Performs seamlessly and lasts longer when well–maintained
- Requires proper lubrication to avoid locking
A/C Condenser: What Every Car Owner Should Know
Driving comfort does not completely depend on the suspension system. You need to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your car, too. So during the hot days of summer, see to it that your car's cooling system is in perfect shape.
Check the various parts of the air-conditioning (A/C) for damage. Pay particular attention to the A/C condenser. Situated right behind the grille and the radiator the A/C condenser plays a crucial role in the A/C process. Through a series of finned tubes, the condenser allows heat to pass from the warm refrigerant to the colder air outside. The hot and compressed refrigerant coming from the compressor goes to the condenser's top surface for cooling.
Finally, the gaseous refrigerant condenses and leaves through the bottom of the condenser as a high-pressure liquid. To ensure you get the best A/C condenser replacement, trust Car Parts. Here, you can be sure to get a condenser at much cheaper prices.
- Perfectly matches your vehicle's stock A/C parts to ensure reliable performance.
- Performs better than your stock and lasts longer
- Comes with instructions for easy installation
Tips on Picking the Right A/C Condenser
The A/C condenser basically absorbs heat from the vehicle's cab and dissipates it to provide cool air. The condenser cools the hot, high-pressure gas from the compressor and turns it back to its liquid form. The liquid is circulated back into the system so it can absorb the heat inside the vehicle. Another one of its important functions is to collect debris, oil, and excess trash coming from the compressor. This protects the other parts of the a/c system from being contaminated.
When should you replace my A/C condenser?
Just like any car part, the condenser is subject to wear and tear. Since it is usually located under the vehicle's grille, flying objects, road dirt, excess compressor trash, and oil all affect its cooling performance. Here are some signs that will tell you that it is time to replace you're a/c condenser:
- Your a/c is blowing hot air instead of cold air
- Physical damage like blows, dents, and leaks due to flying objects
- The presence of rust and corrosion on the pipes and body
- The vehicle's age and upgrading the system to R-134a
- Broken expansion valves, a/c hoses, and clogged orifice tubes
- Black Death (black goo contaminating the a/c compressor)
What to look for in an A/C condenser?
Compatibility --- When shopping for a replacement condenser, consult your car's manual. It will give you the exact model and number of its condenser. Aftermarket retailers offer OEM and replacement parts for every vehicle. It's important to double check your vehicle's exact technical specifications to avoid problems when installing it.
Durability --- Since the condenser is responsible for dissipating heat in your vehicle's cab, you should get one that's very durable. Most condenser fins are either made from copper, brass or aluminum. Copper and brass fins are good materials for cooling but aluminum is more corrosion-resistant. The bottom line is: it should last your car's lifetime.
Price --- You will find a lot of shops and online stores offering a wide variety of condensers with prices that range from a hundred dollars to less than a thousand. Choose the best brand with the best price that fits your budget.
A/C condensers are generally mass-produced and it's easy to get a compatible replacement part. If your vehicle's a/c system is providing abnormal temperatures, have it checked immediately. Don't sacrifice your driving and riding comfort.
Equipping your Ride with a New A/C Condenser
It's one of the a/c system's parts that need to be checked periodically. Located just in front of the radiator, it suffers blows from flying objects. Excess debris, oil and dirt captured by the condenser can block the airflow through it; which leads to reduced cooling performance. When your a/c system starts blowing hot air; it's time to replace the condenser. Replacing the A/C condenser is fairly easy but it takes time. Below are the tools and steps you need to finish this project.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Things You Will Need:
- O-ring set
- Wrench set
- Refrigerant (R-134a)
- Refrigerant oil
- Vacuum pump
- Drain basin or container
- Air conditioning gauges
- 1/4-inch drive socket set
- 3/8-inch drive socket set
- Replacement A/C condenser
- Refrigerant recovery equipment
- Make sure that your work space is well-ventilated since you will be dealing with gases.
- Wear safety glasses and other personal protective equipment. Some examples are closed toe shoes or latex gloves.
- The R-134a refrigerant is toxic and it should be disposed properly, as per federal laws.
- Don't forget to wear a protective mask while flushing and recharging the condenser.
- Always follow proper disposal procedures for coolants and refrigerants.
Step 1: Make sure to disconnect your battery's negative cable.
Step 2: Locate the condenser and check it for any cracks.
Step 3: Flush the refrigerant from you're a/c system using the recovery equipment.
Step 4: If you are unable to recover the refrigerant; go to a certified shop that can help you with it.
Step 5: Drain the radiator's coolant by removing the top cap and bottom plug.
Step 6: Use your drain basin to collect the coolant from the radiator. Make sure to dispose of it properly.
Step 7: Use the socket and wrench sets to disconnect the radiator's cooling fan assembly, mounting brackets, transmission lines and hoses. Once these are off, remove the radiator from the engine compartment.
Step 8: Unbolt the condenser from the radiator core support and disconnect all refrigerant lines. Remove the condenser from the engine compartment.
Step 9: Make sure to save the old clips and vibration dampeners for the new condenser. Put them in place before installing the replacement condenser.
Step 10: Once all the clips and vibration dampeners are in place; bolt the new condenser into the radiator core support.
Step 11: Connect all your lines to a vacuum pump to remove all excess air from the system. Continuing vacuuming until the gauge reads "0".
Step 12: Check o-ring seals and replace all worn-out seals before reinstalling the refrigerant line connections. Tighten these line connections with a wrench.
Step 13: Check the line connections and replacement condenser for any leaks before recharging the system with R-134a refrigerant.
Step 14: Reinstall the radiator and reattach its hoses and transmission lines. Once the radiator has been installed; reinstall the cooling fan assembly and close the radiator's drain plug.
Step 15: Refer to your vehicle's manual for the right amount of R-134a refrigerant to be recharged into your a/c system.
Step 16: Reconnect your battery's negative cable.
Step 17: Don't forget to fill your radiator with a mixture of antifreeze and water.
Step 18: Turn on your engine, then the a/c to check the cabin temperature.
Replacing the A/C condenser will take about two hours for a seasoned DIYer and four hours for a beginner. Take your time and check everything thoroughly. It's better to be sure than to be sorry in the end. Get your hands dirty and have fun!