Auto Repair

How Much To Fix AC In Car?

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A long drive in a hot vehicle is not enjoyable. Thankfully, air conditioning systems are universal in today’s vehicles—however, air conditioning (A/C) problems still happen.

Vehicle A/C systems operate under pressure, so just a small leak in one area of the system can result in significant issues. Consequently, it’s best to repair A/C issues sooner than later, before they become more critical and costly to repair. Below is everything you need to know about vehicle A/C repair costs, including some of the more common issues and how to get your vehicle blowing cool air again.

The way in which vehicle air conditioning systems work

A lot of people don’t think about how complex vehicle A/C systems are. However, there’s a lot happening under the hood when you push the little button to cool down your vehicle’s cabin. To understand general A/C problems, it’s beneficial to know a little about how vehicle A/C systems work.

On the most simplistic level, the vehicle’s air conditioning system works by converting a refrigerant from a liquid into a gas. As the refrigerant change’s composition, it consumes heat and humidity. Leaving you with cool, dry air—which is a lot more comfortable when driving.

A breakdown of the parts in a vehicle A/C system

A lot of A/C systems in today’s vehicles share these common parts:

  • Mounted on the front of the vehicle’s engine, its job is to pressurize the refrigerant gas. It’s a vital part of the system. Regrettably, a compressor can’t usually be repaired—so if something goes wrong with it, you’re facing an expensive replacement.
  • Located just behind the vehicle’s grille, the condenser cools the refrigerant and discharges heat. The condenser fans are located inside the condenser.
  • The dryer extracts water out of the refrigerant.
  • Metering tool/expansion valve. The metering tool decreases the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant.
  • The evaporator, mounted behind the dashboard, is where the cooling occurs. At this time, the refrigerant reverts back to a liquid state. As that occurs, it cools the air that traverses the evaporator. That air is then discharged into the cabin, making passengers more comfortable.
  • Hose-lines. Refrigerant passes through hose-lines when moving from one area of a system to another.

4 typical problems with vehicle A/C systems

Prior to repairing your A/C system, you need to figure out what the problem could be. A mechanic could help with this, but you can also do a little examination of your own. The following are four typical types of vehicle A/C issues, in addition to information about what may be causing them and repair options to think about.

  1. No cool air

One of the most disappointing problems you’ll face is a lack of cold air, or an A/C system that blows air that is cool, but not cold. There are several reasons this could be happening, including:

  • Depleted refrigerant. After a while, systems lose refrigerant and are required to be “recharged.” This can be done as DIY or in an auto repair shop.
  • Obstructed or broken fans. Should the fans on the condenser not spin, your cold airflow is going to be affected. Remove any insects, leaves, and debris from the condenser. Then, turn the A/C on and verify that the fans are spinning.
  • Filthy air cabin filter. A blocked air cabin filter can affect the flow of air and cooling.
  • Leaks in the line affect the pressure and effectiveness of the A/C system.
  • Electrical issues. Electrical issues can interfere with an A/C system cooling correctly.
  • Faulty compressor or failing compressor clutch. If your compressor is not operating correctly, you are not going to get cool air.

Repair options: Troubleshoot at home prior to seeing your mechanic. Begin by clearing any debris from the radiator and the condenser in the vehicle. Verify to see if the fans are spinning. After that, replace your vehicle’s cabin air filter. If that doesn’t solve the issue, try recharging the system with a DIY A/C recharge kit (thirty-five dollars and up). If you still do not have cool air, it’s time to go to your mechanic for additional diagnostics.

  1. Leaks

Leaks are a typical cause of A/C problems in vehicles. Because a vehicle’s air conditioning system is a closed, pressurized one, a leak anywhere can impede the flow of cold air. It’s important to repair leaks sooner than later because if they are left untreated, they can cause the compressor to overwork itself. After a while, this could cause the compressor to fail.

Repair options: First, visually examine your vehicle’s A/C system. Keep a wary eye on fittings, hoses, and seals to make sure that each is attached securely. If you are comfortable with DIY projects, you can use a DIY A/C leak detection kit ($145) to establish where a leak is happening. After you locate the leak, you are going to have to replace the part that is leaking. Another option is to take your vehicle to an auto repair shop. There, you are going to pay about $200 to identify the issue and locate the leak. A hose repair or replacement could cost an additional $350.

  1. Loud noises

Loud noises or “thuds” when turning on your A/C is an indication that the compressor clutch is beginning to fail. If the compressor clutch is beginning to go, you could also notice:

  • Air that is not cool enough
  • An inability to turn the air conditioning on or off
  • Leaking refrigerant
  • The clutch not spinning when turning on the A/C

Repair options: When your compressor clutch fails, you have two options:

Replace only the clutch or replace the whole compressor. Its clutch costs around $450 to $850. Unless you are a confident DIY-er, you are also going require professional installation, running an added $150 to $250. Compressors are more costly than that, but if the clutch is failing, it could be an indication that your compressor is not far behind.

  1. Mildew smell

No one desires a cool but smelly vehicle. A stale or moldy smell is a sign that there’s some bacteria or mold growth someplace inside your vehicle. This might be caused by:

  • A broken dryer
  • Mold on the evaporator
  • Moldy or dirty vents

Repair options: Begin with the easy repair—cleaning out the vents. Utilize an A/C vent and duct cleaner ($10) for cleaning out the vents. If the smell comes back quickly, speak with a mechanic about whether you are required to replace your dryer. That is going to cost around $320 to $400 covering parts and labor.

Average cost to repair a vehicles A/C

A/C repair expenses can differ widely, subject to the cause of the issue and the model of vehicle. Typically, vehicle A/C repair expenses run between $430 to $520. Nevertheless, if you require a new compressor, you can anticipate spending $1,300 to $2,500+.

Below is a breakdown of some of the most common vehicle A/C repairs and their typical cost.

  • A/C system inspection and diagnostics to locate the problem – $200
  • A/C recharge (at repair shop) – $240
  • A/C hose repairs – $350
  • Compressor clutch replacement – $850
  • Brand new compressor – $800+
  • Brand new vehicle A/C installation or complete system replacement – $2,750+

Factors that impact vehicle A/C cost

When you are getting your vehicle’s A/C system repaired, the below factors are going to likely impact the cost:

  • Cause of the issues. Some parts of an A/C system are more cost-friendly to fix than others.
  • Make of vehicle. More expensive vehicle makes usually have higher expenses for A/C repairs.
  • If it’s difficult to locate and diagnose the issue, you are going to pay more in labor expenses.
  • DIY vs. professional repair. If you can repair your A/C issue yourself, you can save on labor expenses.

Heath’s Auto Service In Cottonwood, AZ

At Heath’s Auto Service, our comprehensive range of services covers everything from routine maintenance to complex repairs. Our certified technicians are skilled in handling oil changes, brake inspections, engine diagnostics, tire rotations, and much more. Whether it’s a minor tune-up or a major overhaul, trust us to get you back on the road with confidence. Contact our team at Heath’s Auto Service today!


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