How does a car AC work, and how can a car AC be failed?

Working of a car AC

Car air conditioners provide comfort to the users. An efficient AC helps conserve fuel, reduces wear and tear of tires on hot tar roads & enables us to travel with ease even when blazing outside. Thus, an AC is an essential requirement for any vehicle. It cools down your cabin by producing chilled air that can be directly blown to the occupants. Usually, this is done by running a compressor that works on engine power. It then pumps refrigerant through the lines and into the evaporator that absorbs heat from inside, making it hot. Then cool air blows out of vents.

Reason for car AC failure

The AC runs on electricity and consumes quite some amount of energy. A car’s battery can efficiently run low on juice, especially if you have left the headlights or other accessories on by mistake. Other causes of failure include clogged air filters, a bad thermostat, etc. Components like compressor and condenser might also give up due to pressure issues, leaks, etc.

If there is a lack of cooling in your AC, check for any loose connections first as they could be flexible without being faulty. Also, check for any debris in the condenser. If it is dirty, wash it with water carefully to not damage any component. Junk in the evaporator can block the airflow resulting in poor cooling.

If there is a lack of cooling in your car AC, you must immediately take action when the situation is not dire. It may also happen that when you start your car, there seems to be no change when you turn on the AC. This might be because your compressor does not work when the engine is at idle speeds. But once vehicle speed reaches 50mph or more, the compressor works and thus cools down the cabin.

Why is auto AC repair so expensive?

Some motorists are over-confident in their car’s air conditioning system. They can’t imagine it breaking down or getting ill. If you’re one of these drivers, take heed; your luck may soon run out. There are several reasons you should bring your car to a professional for AC repair.

1: The Freon levels in the auto air conditioner could be critically low

Freon is the coolant used in modern auto air conditioners to keep temperatures steady inside an automobile. Low Freon levels result in hot summer weather being pumped into your car rather than refreshing cool air, putting added stress on the compressor and other parts that function with it. Although many motorists claim to add Freon to their AC’s themselves, this isn’t a recommended practice. Unless you have the proper tools and experience, adding incorrect Freon amounts could result in a leak or malfunction that will still require a professional auto air conditioner repair service. Also, check out why my car engine overheats.

2. The condenser fan might be broken

The condenser fan is one of four components that work together to keep your car at the perfect temperature while driving. The other three parts are the evaporator, compressor, and receiver/drier (the last two components are inside the sealed compartment containing the Freon). All four may need auto AC repairs due to wear and tear or mechanical problems like broken, which cause overheating.

3. The compressor could be burned out

The compressor is the heart of your car’s air conditioning system. When it malfunctions, all four components just mentioned must be replaced or repaired. The labor-intensive nature of these tasks makes them costly in terms of time and money. If attempting to do AC repairs yourself, giving this part a thorough look over is highly recommended; if you take shortcuts in diagnosing the problem, you might pass up on an expensive repair until it’s too late (i.e., burnt out).

4. Leaks are everywhere

Leaks result in loss of Freon, which will require equipment used by trained professionals to detect and seal properly. During this procedure, technicians check for other leaks that could have resulted from the initial leak, causing other issues that should be addressed right away to prevent further damage.

Automobile AC repair is one of those services that are often overpriced, especially if you’re forced to pay out of pocket for it. However, bringing your car to a service center for repair isn’t just about saving money and avoiding the added risks of cheap auto air conditioner repairs. Remember, Freon can be an expensive commodity; there’s no sense in saving $300 on a repair that costs $900 once all factors are factored into the equation (i.e., labor and coolant). Don’t try and save money by doing your own auto AC repairs yourself.

Car AC fixes cost:

You can find a wide range of prices for car AC repair, depending on the type and severity of the problem.

$350 to $400, Compressor Replacement

If your car’s air conditioning system has problems, you may need to replace the compressor and other parts. If only the clutch needed replacement, it would cost around $300, but if there are additional problems such as leaks or low refrigerant pressure, more costly repairs will be necessary. The average price for this type of repair ranges from $250 to $400.

$100 to $400, Refrigerant Leak Repair

A simple leak that requires adding refrigerant will cost anywhere from $100 to $200 or more, depending on where you go and if you want to replace the leaking seal. If there is more than one leak, the price will increase to $300 or more.

$100, Condenser Fan Replacement

If your AC compressor has failed, but other components are okay (such as fan motors), then you may only need the replacement of condenser fans for about $100 to $150. 

But if your AC system needs replacement, expect to pay between $400 and $600 because this also involves replacing parts such as the cooling fins, evaporator coil, and receiver-dryer.

If you have noticed problems with your car’s air conditioner, don’t delay in having it checked out by a professional who can determine what repairs are necessary for your particular model. Overall, the average price of AC repairs is between $300 and $500.


Car AC repair can range in prices from under $100 on up to several hundred dollars. Many people do not realize that a dirty filter may cause some air conditioning problems. If you find yourself with a clogged filter, all you need to do is clean it off or replace it. You may also want to check your car’s cabin air filter; if these need replacing too, then plan for extra charges of around $60 for parts and labor.


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