You don’t want to lose the comfort given by your car’s air conditioning system anytime soon. However, just like all other pieces of technology, it can break down unannounced. How much does it cost to fix AC in a car if there’s a problem?
Car owners have reported that they paid $171 to $727 to repair minor AC problems in their cars. That gives an average of $488. Major AC repairs, on the other hand, can go from $1,000 to $4,000. This cost depends on the problem and the make and model of the car.
AC problems are expensive to fix because of the way the components of the AC system are built. If one component of this system goes bad, it affects all the other parts. And being an assembly, if one part of the AC system is defective, you may also need to replace other parts.
Read on to learn more about the cost of fixing issues in your car’s AC, its components that could break down, the different AC issues that can occur, and sample repair costs for these issues.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix AC in Car?
Minor and Major Fix Costs
The cost to fix minor AC issues, according to car owners, ranges from $171 to $727. This means the average cost is $488. Serious AC issues are significantly more expensive since they involve major components. They can range from $1,000 to $4,000. It also depends on the model of your car.
Repairing Car AC Issues Is Expensive
Repairing car AC issues is expensive because of how AC systems are built. The AC system has many parts. If only one of its components fails, all the other parts of the assembly won’t function as well.
AC Compressor Replacement Cost
In other words, you may have to replace other parts of the AC system that are affected by that one part that is not functioning. The AC compressor itself is already expensive. A replacement will cost you around $994. It can go up to $1,146. The cheapest AC compressor you can get is around $842.
Labor charges are likewise expensive. The most common AC service goes from $70 to $130 per hour. Some AC service centers require a minimum charge, like $70, while some charge $200. Major AC repairs such as replacing condenser, evaporator, or compressor could set you back between $500 and $2,000 in some car AC repair shops.
Parts of the AC That Can Break Down
The AC system of your car has four major parts:
- Compressor: Part of the AC that compresses the refrigerant.
- Condenser: Expels heat, just like what radiator does.
- Expansion valve: Regulates the refrigerant’s flow.
- Evaporator or drier: Cools the car when it blows hot air inside the car through the refrigerant
These AC components process the refrigerant, which could also be considered one of the AC parts.
What Are the Causes of AC Issues?
So, when one of these parts fails, your AC will not be able to cool the cabin of your car. AC issues could be caused by one of the following things:
- Bad air compressor
- Faulty evaporator
- Bad condenser
- Clogged filter
- Issues of other components
- Refrigerant leak
Not Enough Refrigerant
If there’s not enough refrigerant flowing in the system, it may seem that your car’s AC is not working since it cannot maintain a comfortable temperature inside the car. The low-pressure switch cannot activate the compressor when the refrigerant is low. Adding refrigerant to the system will easily solve the problem.
Why Is It That the Refrigerant Level Is Low?
But why is it that the refrigerant level is low? You need to have your car checked since the system is sealed to maintain the refrigerant level. So, this could mean that there is a leak somewhere in the AC system. Locating and repairing the leak will be easy.
However, if the compressor or the evaporator, or the condenser is the one that is causing the problem, you need a more extensive repair, which means it will also be more costly. That’s why there is a wide range of costs for fixing AC issues.
Typical Costs of AC Repairs
Now, you know the many parts in your car’s AC unit that can fail. Each of these parts can fail due to a variety of reasons. Thankfully, there are already established fixes to the issues related to car AC systems. We will now discuss how much to fix car AC according to the issues involved:
1. Overall Car AC Inspection and Repair
If you ask a car AC technician to inspect your car’s AC system, prepare from $100 to $300 for their service fee. This task is comprehensive because they need to evaluate and check all the components of the system.
Overall car ac inspection includes checking the following components:
- Condenser, and
They will possibly use a dye to find out if there’s a refrigerant leak in the system. The task may also involve topping up the refrigerant.
Suppose the AC technician finds some problems with the compressor, the evaporator, the condenser, or hoses. In that case, there will be additional repair costs – if you want them to fix whatever issue they discover.
2. Component Repair
If the technician finds that a major component of the AC system is failing, a repair can run from $1,000 to $4,000. Also, the actual cost will depend on the make and model of your car and the AC system.
The cost may also include charging the refrigerant. If your car was made before 1995, the AC tech might not convert it to the refrigerant required by current regulations. Anyway, if your car needs a major AC component repair, the average cost is about $1,829.
3. Leak Repair
If the AC tech discovers leaks in the AC system, be prepared to shell out from $150 to $800. This repair cost will already include refrigerant charging. It may also include the replacement of sensors and hoses. This type of fix falls under minor AC system repairs.
4. Installation of New AC Unit
Installing a new AC unit if your car hasn’t one yet can cost you anywhere between $1,500 and $4,000. The actual cost to fix AC in a car will depend on the make and model of your car and the type of AC unit you want to be installed.
If you already have the AC unit and only need someone to install it, labor can range from $50 to $100 per hour. This depends on the skills and experience of the AC tech. A professional AC tech can take 12 to 22 hours to complete the job. So, be prepared to pay them $1,750 to $3,595 to complete the job.
5. Additional Costs
For old car models built before 1995, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says converting their AC units from CFC-12 or Freon to the approved substitutes can range from $100 to $800. The actual cost will also depend on the car’s type, model, and age.
If repairs are added to the refrigerant conversion, the cost could jack up the total to no more than $200. Refrigerant CFC-12 is no longer produced in the U.S. because of its bad effect on the ozone layer. It is not banned, but there’s no place where you can buy it today.
Again, how much does it cost to fix AC in the car? Fixing AC in a car involves hoses, sensors, and the compressor or condenser replacement. On average, this will cost you around $448 or $171-$727 if only minor repairs are done. However, major repairs will cost you around $1,000-$4,000, depending on your car’s make and model.
Factors to Consider Before Fixing AC in Car
You need to consider certain things before fixing the issues of your car’s AC unit. You need to think about these things before you proceed with this project:
1. Federal and State Environmental Regulations
If you find that your AC unit needs fixing, be aware of federal and state environmental regulations you need to follow. For one, you can do it on your own. As the authorities require, these repairs should be performed only by certified AC technicians, especially if they use specialized equipment.
The EPA has also set certain rules that you need to follow to prevent automotive air conditioning from badly affecting the environment.
2. Adding or Installing AC Unit
If your vehicle does not have an AC unit and you want to install one, be aware that the technician may have to cut through your car’s firewall. They may also replace the heater core, modify the car’s dashboard, install new under-hood parts, and make some modifications to your car’s current ventilation controls.
3. Fixing Leaks Is Hard
The most common issue of AC units is system leaks. Fixing leaks is a difficult task. The AC tech may have to do it several times before they can finally find and repair the source of the leak. It becomes more complicated if the leak is located in a hard-to-access area underneath your vehicle. If this is your situation, your labor costs will naturally increase.
4. AC Brand
How much to fix car AC will also depend on your air conditioning unit’s brand, size, and capacity. If it’s a name brand, the AC tech might charge you higher than they charge for a cheap brand.
How a Typical AC Works
You should also understand how your AC unit works so that you can appreciate the high price that you need to pay to have it repaired.
Your car’s AC unit works by transforming the refrigerant from its gaseous state to a liquid state. The parts of the AC unit that perform this process and the work that they do are the following:
It compresses the refrigerant to add heat and pressure. The compressor is connected to the crankshaft of the engine by a belt.
The heated and pressurized refrigerant goes to the condenser, where it cools down and changes again into a liquid.
The liquid then goes to the drier, ensuring that there’s no gas present in the liquid before it goes to the expansion valve.
4. Expansion Valve
This part of the AC system cools down the liquid to turn into its gaseous state before it goes to the evaporator.
A heated fan blows air coming from outside the vehicle through the evaporator, which is cold. The air cools down from the cold evaporator and enters the car’s cabin.
Conclusion: How Much Does It Cost to Fix AC in Car?
Actual reports from car owners indicate that minor AC repairs range from $171 to $727. This means an average cost of $488. For AC major repairs, however, the cost will dramatically increase.
Car owners have reported spending from $1,000 to $4,000 for serious car AC issues. The actual costs will depend on the severity of the problem and the make and model of the car. Repairing car AC issues is expensive because of how the AC system and its components are built.