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Doesn't your air conditioning feel great on a hot, humid day? That cold air blowing through your vents and into your vehicle cabin might feel like magic, but the truth is that your air conditioning system operates in much the same way as your cooling system. The core of your air conditioning system is your AC condenser, a device that both looks and acts similar to your radiator. If you look inside your engine bay, you will notice your AC condenser situated in front of your radiator. Just as coolant enters your radiator to dissipate the heat it has gathered from your engine, refrigerant gas enters the AC condenser to release the heat it has absorbed from the cabin of your car, truck, or SUV. The major difference is that while coolant remains in liquid form at all times, refrigerant must be in a gaseous state to circulate through your cabin. The vapor enters your AC condenser and turns to liquid as it cools there'which is the reason this component is called a condenser. Your AC condenser uses a combination of an expanded surface area for the refrigerant and moving air, either from the air blowing through your front grille as you drive or the auxiliary fan used by the radiator, to effect a temperature change in the refrigerant. Once it has reached liquid form, the refrigerant is passed through an expansive valve to re-enter your cabin as that refreshing cold air you enjoy. As the weather gets warmer, investigate your AC condenser for leaks or other damage, and replace your worn part with a high-quality new AC condenser from our online catalogue so it is ready when you need it most.
Tips on Picking the Right A/C Condenser
The A/C condenser basically absorbs heat from the vehicle's cab and dissipates it to provide cool air. The condenser cools the hot, high-pressure gas from the compressor and turns it back to its liquid form. The liquid is circulated back into the system so it can absorb the heat inside the vehicle. Another one of its important functions is to collect debris, oil, and excess trash coming from the compressor. This protects the other parts of the a/c system from being contaminated.
When should you replace my A/C condenser?
Just like any car part, the condenser is subject to wear and tear. Since it is usually located under the vehicle's grille, flying objects, road dirt, excess compressor trash, and oil all affect its cooling performance. Here are some signs that will tell you that it is time to replace you're a/c condenser:
- Your a/c is blowing hot air instead of cold air
- Physical damage like blows, dents, and leaks due to flying objects
- The presence of rust and corrosion on the pipes and body
- The vehicle's age and upgrading the system to R-134a
- Broken expansion valves, a/c hoses, and clogged orifice tubes
- Black Death (black goo contaminating the a/c compressor)
What to look for in an A/C condenser?
Compatibility --- When shopping for a replacement condenser, consult your car's manual. It will give you the exact model and number of its condenser. Aftermarket retailers offer OEM and replacement parts for every vehicle. It's important to double check your vehicle's exact technical specifications to avoid problems when installing it.
Durability --- Since the condenser is responsible for dissipating heat in your vehicle's cab, you should get one that's very durable. Most condenser fins are either made from copper, brass or aluminum. Copper and brass fins are good materials for cooling but aluminum is more corrosion-resistant. The bottom line is: it should last your car's lifetime.
Price --- You will find a lot of shops and online stores offering a wide variety of condensers with prices that range from a hundred dollars to less than a thousand. Choose the best brand with the best price that fits your budget.
A/C condensers are generally mass-produced and it's easy to get a compatible replacement part. If your vehicle's a/c system is providing abnormal temperatures, have it checked immediately. Don't sacrifice your driving and riding comfort.
Equipping your Ride with a New A/C Condenser
It's one of the a/c system's parts that need to be checked periodically. Located just in front of the radiator, it suffers blows from flying objects. Excess debris, oil and dirt captured by the condenser can block the airflow through it; which leads to reduced cooling performance. When your a/c system starts blowing hot air; it's time to replace the condenser. Replacing the A/C condenser is fairly easy but it takes time. Below are the tools and steps you need to finish this project.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Things You Will Need:
- O-ring set
- Wrench set
- Refrigerant (R-134a)
- Refrigerant oil
- Vacuum pump
- Drain basin or container
- Air conditioning gauges
- 1/4-inch drive socket set
- 3/8-inch drive socket set
- Replacement A/C condenser
- Refrigerant recovery equipment
- Make sure that your work space is well-ventilated since you will be dealing with gases.
- Wear safety glasses and other personal protective equipment. Some examples are closed toe shoes or latex gloves.
- The R-134a refrigerant is toxic and it should be disposed properly, as per federal laws.
- Don't forget to wear a protective mask while flushing and recharging the condenser.
- Always follow proper disposal procedures for coolants and refrigerants.
Step 1: Make sure to disconnect your battery's negative cable.
Step 2: Locate the condenser and check it for any cracks.
Step 3: Flush the refrigerant from you're a/c system using the recovery equipment.
Step 4: If you are unable to recover the refrigerant; go to a certified shop that can help you with it.
Step 5: Drain the radiator's coolant by removing the top cap and bottom plug.
Step 6: Use your drain basin to collect the coolant from the radiator. Make sure to dispose of it properly.
Step 7: Use the socket and wrench sets to disconnect the radiator's cooling fan assembly, mounting brackets, transmission lines and hoses. Once these are off, remove the radiator from the engine compartment.
Step 8: Unbolt the condenser from the radiator core support and disconnect all refrigerant lines. Remove the condenser from the engine compartment.
Step 9: Make sure to save the old clips and vibration dampeners for the new condenser. Put them in place before installing the replacement condenser.
Step 10: Once all the clips and vibration dampeners are in place; bolt the new condenser into the radiator core support.
Step 11: Connect all your lines to a vacuum pump to remove all excess air from the system. Continuing vacuuming until the gauge reads "0".
Step 12: Check o-ring seals and replace all worn-out seals before reinstalling the refrigerant line connections. Tighten these line connections with a wrench.
Step 13: Check the line connections and replacement condenser for any leaks before recharging the system with R-134a refrigerant.
Step 14: Reinstall the radiator and reattach its hoses and transmission lines. Once the radiator has been installed; reinstall the cooling fan assembly and close the radiator's drain plug.
Step 15: Refer to your vehicle's manual for the right amount of R-134a refrigerant to be recharged into your a/c system.
Step 16: Reconnect your battery's negative cable.
Step 17: Don't forget to fill your radiator with a mixture of antifreeze and water.
Step 18: Turn on your engine, then the a/c to check the cabin temperature.
Replacing the A/C condenser will take about two hours for a seasoned DIYer and four hours for a beginner. Take your time and check everything thoroughly. It's better to be sure than to be sorry in the end. Get your hands dirty and have fun!