A/C Switch Buyer’s Guide
- An AC switch is responsible for controlling the different functions and settings in your car’s AC system. There are several types of AC switches in your car depending on its specific configuration.
- There can be different AC switches to control power, temperature flow, and airflow direction.
- Some switches control specific parts of your AC system. Examples of these switches are a condenser fans switch, AC clutch switch, and different types of pressure switches.
- When looking for replacement switches, make sure to consider durability, compatibility, and value for money.
- An AC switch replacement will usually cost you around $50 to $250. To ensure that you’re getting the right fit, enter the correct details of your vehicle into our built-in search function.
Weekend trips and out-of-town adventures are surely fun. However, the fun might stop if your vehicle’s A/C system starts malfunctioning. Although a malfunctioning A/C system may be caused by several reasons such as a damaged compressor, fan blade, or electric connection, the problem may sometimes be as simple as a faulty AC switch.
In this article, you’ll learn more about AC switches, when they should be replaced, and what to consider when looking for replacements.
What is an A/C switch?
Simply put, an AC switch is responsible for controlling the different functions and settings in your car’s AC system. Your vehicle can be equipped with several types of AC switches depending on its specific configuration. For example, there might be a different car ac control switch for power, temperature control, and airflow direction. Aside from these dashboard switches, there are also switches that control specific parts of your AC system such as the condenser fan switch, AC clutch switch, and pressure switch.
Let’s learn more about these switches by discussing them in detail:
Condenser Fan Switch
As the name suggests, the condenser switch controls the speed of the condenser fan. The condenser fan is an important component of your AC system that is mounted right in front of the condenser, maintaining its ideal temperature.
AC Clutch Switch
Your vehicle’s AC clutch switch makes it possible for you to control the temperature of the evaporator core. An evaporator core is another crucial component of your vehicle’s AC system which serves as a form of a heat exchanger.
AC Pressure Switch
The main function of your vehicle’s AC pressure switch is to monitor refrigerant pressure on the high and low-pressure side of your vehicle’s AC system. It works as a safety device that is capable of turning off the compressor once it senses that there is a problem with refrigerant pressure. This is important because too much or too little pressure may damage your AC system.
Almost all modern vehicles have a car AC high pressure switch and a car AC low pressure switch. Both switches are important to ensure that the AC system is running properly. For example, a lack of pressure may cause the compressor to burn out. Too much pressure isn’t a good sign, either. This may cause your compressor to burst and the refrigerant fluid to leak.
Your car’s AC system is as complex as it sounds. In order for it to work properly, you need to ensure that all components, including the different switches, are working as it should. A faulty switch may actually affect the overall performance of your vehicle’s AC system.
What are the symptoms of a faulty A/C switch?
Since there are different A/C switches installed in your vehicle, it may be difficult to generalize the signs and symptoms of a faulty A/C switch. You’ll know if one of the AC switches in your dashboard isn’t functioning if the setting doesn’t adjust once you move the switch. Once this happens, have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic. Once it is concluded that the switch is at fault, have it replaced right away.
Symptoms of a Faulty AC Pressure Switch
Since your vehicle’s AC pressure switch is one of the most crucial switches in the AC system, let us zero in on the symptoms of a faulty pressure switch:
You’re able to activate your AC, but it takes a significant amount of time for it to cool your car.
This is a clear sign that something is entirely wrong with your AC system. Although it may be caused by other faulty components, it may be a sign that one or both of your AC pressure switches are starting to fail. Remember that your AC pressure switch is responsible for monitoring refrigerant pressure. Incorrect pressure readings may cause your AC system not to function as it normally would.
To bring back your AC system to its optimal performance, have your vehicle checked by a trusted mechanic.
- Your car’s AC is switching on and off repeatedly.
It’s normal for most automatic AC systems to turn off or cut off from time to time, especially if the cabin temperature is already stable (based on what you’ve set in the AC settings). However, if your AC system turns on and off erratically or without reason, it may be a sign that one of the components in the system is not functioning properly, including the AC pressure switches.
- Your AC’s compressor is not running.
As discussed, your vehicle’s AC pressure switches help in protecting the compressor from getting damaged. It would then be logical to say that a damaged compressor may be caused by a faulty pressure switch.
- Your AC system won’t turn on at all.
Lastly, an AC system that doesn’t turn on at all is a tell-tale sign that it needs to be checked by a mechanic. Chances are one of your vehicle’s AC components, including the pressure switches, may have failed completely.
What to Consider When Looking for an A/C Switch
When looking for an A/C switch, you may be overwhelmed by the different options available for you to choose from. To help you narrow down your options, here are things you should consider when looking for a replacement:
One thing you should consider when looking for an AC switch replacement is its durability. Remember that most of these switches are crucial to the operation of your AC system.
Since there are lots of switches for different vehicles, make sure to buy one that is compatible with your vehicle. Make sure to check product specifications first before buying an A/C switch replacement for your vehicle.
Value for Money
High-quality switches aren’t necessarily priced high. In fact, there are many aftermarket AC switches sold at very reasonable prices that function just like their OEM counterpart. Just make sure to source your switches from legitimate sources to ensure that you’re not getting substandard ones.
How much does an A/C switch replacement cost?
An AC switch replacement will usually cost around $50 to $250. As mentioned, there are many types of AC switches, so the price and specifications will also be dependent on the type of AC switch replacement that you need.
Finding the right fit
To ensure that you’re getting the right fit, enter the correct details of your vehicle into our built-in search function. To make your search quick and easy, you may also filter your search according to the brand and price range you prefer.
Achieve a Cozy Ride: Changing an Automotive A/C Switch
Your car's A/C switch takes care of providing and cutting off power to the air compressor of the air conditioning system. Its pressure level needs to be kept to at least 25 psi. Any pressure level below 25 psi can make the air compressor shut off. This can, in turn, make the A/C system freeze up due to the damaged A/C switch. When this happens, the best solution is to replace the A/C switch.
Here's a step-by-step replacement guide to help you in changing the A/C switch of your car:
Difficulty level: Moderate
Tools you'll need:
- Air conditioning gauge set
- Air conditioning recovery machine
- Vacuum pump
- Owner's manual
- Replacement A/C switch
Step 1: Firs things first; Remove the refrigerant in your car's air conditioning system. Make sure you don't allow the refrigerant to get released into the air, since this contributes to greenhouse gases.
Step 2: Connect the hoses of the recovery machine to the air conditioning ports of your vehicle. Look for the low-pressure and high-pressure ports. Identify the low-pressure port by tracing the larger hose coming from the compressor up to the accumulator near the firewall. And to get the high-pressure port, trace the smaller hose from the back of the compressor.
Step 3: Observe the air conditioning gauge to see how much refrigerant is left. The refrigerant level should indicate zero or empty in the gauge.
Step 4: Consult your owner's manual to find the exact location of the air compressor pressure switch. Once you have located the switch, detach it by unscrewing the bolts that secure it in place. Remove the rubber O-ring where the switch is attached. Then, replace it with the new O-ring that came with your replacement A/C switch.
Step 5: Grab the air conditioning gauge set again, and link it to the low- and high-pressure ports. Attach the vacuum pump of the gauge set and turn it on. You might also need to turn on the service valves of the gauge set to drain all of the moisture in the system. This process usually takes up to an hour.
Step 6: After you have drained all of the moisture from the air conditioning system, close the service valves of the gauge set. Take out the vacuum pump that's attached to it as well. Get the can tap that comes with the gauge set. Install this can tap and attach a can of refrigerant to it.
Step 7: To re-apply the refrigerant, open the can and open the service valve on the gauge set. Continue adding refrigerant and replacing the can, until the air conditioning system becomes full. You can also refer to your owner's manual to check the right amount of refrigerant needed to make the system work.
Step 8: Once the system becomes full, remove all of the hoses and close all of the valves. Turn off the engine and leave it turned off for a while before testing. After 15 minutes or so, start the car and turn the air conditioning on maximum. Check to see if the A/C switch is now working.