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5 Symptoms Of Bad Car Air Conditioner Condenser (and Replacement Cost)

Sep 09, 2020

Decades ago, it was considered a luxury to have an air conditioning system in your car. Today, it is a basic function that we often take for granted.


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You want the air conditioner to work effectively every time you use it. If any part of the A/C system fails, the air conditioner will not work properly, or even not work at all.


The air conditioning condenser is a key component of this air cooling and air drying process. With a bad air conditioning condenser, you will not be a very happy person in the middle of summer. This is the working principle of this part and the sign you should look for when diagnosing the malfunction of the air conditioner condenser.


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How does the air conditioning condenser work?

The working principle of air conditioning condenser

Air conditioners in cars and homes work based on heat exchange and pressure gradients. In automobiles, a substance called refrigerant is converted from liquid to gas and then returned again in an almost closed system. In this system, the air conditioner condenser is a very important part.


In order for the pressure to work properly, a pressure gradient is required, so any leakage in the system will eventually lead to failure.


The air conditioning compressor driven by the crankshaft of the car pressurizes the gaseous refrigerant. This is the cycle point where the air conditioning system changes from low pressure to high pressure.


Next, this high-pressure refrigerant flows to the A/C condenser, which acts like a small radiator at the front of a car, removing heat from the refrigerant by passing it to the outside air flowing through it. This causes the gas to condense back to the liquid. Therefore, the A/C condenser is the key to heat dissipation from the system.


The cooled liquid is moved to a receiver drier/reservoir, which removes excess water and any debris in the liquid.


The refrigerant then flows to the expansion valve or orifice tube, which are small openings that only allow a little liquid to pass through at a time. This relieves the material pressure and brings us back to the low pressure side of the system.


In most cases, the evaporator located under the dashboard on the passenger side is the next stop for this very cool low-pressure liquid. The refrigerant passes through the evaporator, while the A/C blower passes the cabin air through the evaporator. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the air (boils the liquid and turns it back into a gas), thereby cooling the air before it is blown into the cabin through the dashboard.


Then, the warm gaseous refrigerant flows back to the A/C compressor to repeat the process.