Car Air Conditioner Repair: Fixing the Condenser

the controls for a car AC system
What You'll Need
Car AC repair kit
Testing sensor

There are some valuable steps to consider in car air conditioner repair in order to fix the condenser. It is very important to remember that before you start tinkering on the car air conditioner, ensure that you have turned the car’s engine off.

Step 1 – Familiarize Yourself With Your Car Air Conditioning System

Refrigerant – A substance called R-134a (newer models) or R-12 freon (older cars), the refrigerant carries heat out of the car.

Compressor – This unit compresses and brings the refrigerant to circulate in the system.

Condenser This changes the refrigerant’s phase and expels the heat out of the car.

Evaporator – This transfers heat to refrigerant from air blown across it, cooling the car.

Expansion valve – A nozzle that works to simultaneously drop the pressure off the refrigerant liquid, meters its flow and atomizes it, this is also called an orifice tube in some cars.

Receiver/Dryer – This works as a filter for the refrigerant and removes moisture and other contaminants.

Step 2 – Learn the Air Conditioning Process

The process begins with the compressor putting the refrigerant under high pressure and sends it to the condensing coil. These coils are usually found in front of the radiator and the compression of a refrigerant gas makes these quite hot. This heat, together with the heat picked up by the refrigerant in the evaporator, is expelled by the condenser to the air that is flowing across it from outside the car.

The refrigerant then cools and changes phase from gas to liquid. The liquid then passes through the expansion valve to the evaporator where it will lose pressure. As it enters the evaporator, the refrigerant will change into low-pressure gas as the remaining liquid cools and the liquid portion begins to absorb heat from across the coil and it is evaporated. The car’s blower will circulate the cold evaporated gas into the interior of the car while the rest of the refrigerant returns to the same process.

Step 3 – Check for Corrosion and Motor Damage

While the air conditioner may continue to be working for quite some time, the older it gets, the more corroded the parts become. So every once in awhile, it is best to check your condenser for any signs of corrosion using a testing sensor to avoid the possibility of refrigerant leaks. Usually, the evaporator coils are the ones that need to be replaced since these get corroded with rust over time. Check if the fan motor is still functional. If it does not work, or if the motor has been damaged, it is best to replace it before bigger problems arise.

Step 4 – If You Cannot Handle the Job Yourself, Call a Professional

As in most systems, the evaporator and condenser are both sealed and a professional technician can best do most of the repairs. However, you can do a preliminary diagnostics on the system if it does not properly release cool air. The most one can do is not to touch or open the condenser without professional advice or overseer as the refrigerant might leak. When this gets out of the system, it can be very hazardous to the environment. Therefore, one is cautioned about handling refrigerants. While there are no repairs that you can do by yourself, you can always maintain your car air conditioner’s peak efficiency.