How Much Does Car Air Conditioning Repair Cost?
A car’s air conditioner will have five main components: the refrigerant, which is designed to carry the heat; the compressor, which draws in and compresses the refrigerant, moving it along; the condenser, which expels the heat; the expansion valve, which regulates the refrigerant flow; and the evaporator, which will cool down the car by blowing the hot air from the inside of the car across the refrigerant. Unfortunately, some of these parts can go bad, ultimately forcing your air conditioner to either blow hot air or not work at all. Since it can be hard for a technician to find out where the leak is coming from, it can take up to an hour or so to know exactly what’s going on.
How much does car air conditioner repair cost?
- To determine what repairs are needed, a mechanic will first have to visibly inspect the system to see what’s wrong with. As stated above, it can take more than an hour to find the exact problem. Some mechanics, such as Pep Boys, will do it for free with a basic inspection, while others will dig down deep and may charge $50 to $250 to check the hoses, belts and connections. To do this, the mechanic will pressurize the system using nitrogen to find out where the leak is coming from.
- Most problems, which will involve repairing a leak, can be $50 to $225. According to MSN, 80 percent of air conditioning problems come from a simple leak. Leaks are able to occur anywhere the refrigerant passes from part to another. If it isn’t a leak, the common repair can be anywhere from as little as $300 to more than $2,000.
- Recharging the old refrigerant is one of the most common repairs and can cost $95 to $255.
- Replacing the air conditioner hose could cost $300 to $550, and this repair will often include recharging the freon as well.
- A compressor failure, which is the pump that circulates the refrigerant through the system, transferring the heat from the inside to the outside, can cost anywhere from $400 to more than $2,100, depending on the make and model. If this compressor were to fail, it would have to be replaced.
- Contamination is another problem that can occur and this happens when a system is exposed to more than one type of refrigerant. On the market, there are two common types: R-12, which is used in older cars, and R-134a, a refrigerant used in all cars since 1994. If these two refrigerants were combined, it could contaminate the system. This type of repair would require flushing and recharging the entire system, along with replacing any components that were contaminated.
What is going to be included?
- During most checks, a certified technician will do a system fan level check, they will read the PSI pressure to verify the Freon level, an output temperature check will be performed and the blower fan and the compressor will be examined thoroughly to see if it’s working properly. Belts and hoses will also be closely inspected to see if any signs of aging or potential failure are present.
- To check for leaks, a fluorescent dye will be injected into the system to see if a leak is present.
What are the extra costs?
- Vehicles made before 1995 will have to convert from using a CFC-12 refrigerant to an approved substitute. Depending on the make, model and the age of the vehicle, this can cost anywhere from $200 to more than $700. While CFC-12 isn’t banned, it’s no longer made because of the effects it has on the ozone layer.
Tips to know
- With older cars, once one part goes bad, there’s a good chance other parts are going to go bad at the same time. So even if you take it in for a repair and have the leak repaired, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for the next few months without a hitch. As Lorraine Sommerfeld stated on Driving.ca, she paid $600 to have her air conditioner repaired, but another leak appeared about a week later.
- The average car loses 0.3 to 0.6 ounces of refrigerant yearly.
How can I save money?
- A/C Pro, a product that you can purchase in most auto supply stores and online, allows you to recharge your air conditioner at home. This product will cost less than $35 and is a great first step to see if it gets rid of the problem.
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