The air-conditioning condenser is a radiator that is positioned between the car’s grille and the engine-cooling radiator in which the gaseous refrigerant sheds heat and returns to a liquid state. The liquid refrigerant flows towards the evaporator inside the dashboard, where it cools the cabin.
Not cool enough for you? It may result from a clogged air-conditioning condenser or disabled cooling fan. A leak in the condenser will result in a loss of refrigerant too.
The condenser functions like a heat exchanger for the air conditioning system. It’s found in front of the radiator and constructed of tubing surrounded by cooling fins. It releases heat into the outside air passing via these fins. An automotive air conditioning system gets the heat energy from the evaporator located in the passenger’s cabin and releases it through the condenser to the outside air.
The condenser receives high temperature high pressure vapour through the compressor and converts it to high pressure liquid through the process of condensation. As air passes through its fins, the heat contained in the refrigerant is passed across the condenser fins and into the atmosphere.
The aim of the condenser is to release heat and change the state of the refrigerant from Vapour to liquid. Vapour enters at the top of the condenser and pressure forces it down towards the outlet located at its base. As the refrigerant passes through, it cools and the condensation takes place. As a result, the inlet at the top should be hotter to the touch as compared to the outlet at the bottom. Condensation leaves the top portion of the condenser filled with Vapour as well as the lower portion filled with liquid. After this, liquid refrigerant is passed onto the receiver drier or metering device.
A non-contact infrared thermometer is usually used to check for restrictions. The conversion in temperature from the top to the bottom has to be smooth and even. Any sudden changes in temperature shows a restriction in the condenser. A restriction in an automotive air conditioning condenser results in high side discharge pressures.
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing AC Condenser
If your AC is cooling your car quite less than usual or there are leaks from the AC system, you might need to replace your AC condenser.
As all of the AC system’s refrigerant passes directly through the condenser, if there is any problem with the condenser, it can negatively affect the operation of the entire system and has to be replaced if necessary. There will generally be a few ways to spot a bad or failing condenser.
Significantly reduced cooling
One of the first symptoms of a failed or failing AC compressor will be reduced cooling. If the condenser gets damaged in any way and results in the restriction of refrigerant flow, then the entire cooling system will work less efficiently. If the refrigerant cannot flow properly, then the amount of cool air that the system can produce will get significantly reduced.
A more obvious sign of condenser failure can be a noticeable leak. Over time, the condenser can start to leak either due to age or damage. When the condenser leaks, depending where and how big the leak is, all of the high pressure refrigerant can and will eventually leak out which will disable the entire AC system. When it begins to leak it has to be replaced as a whole since the condenser is one piece.
If you suspect that you are having a problem with your AC condenser, then have it looked at by a professional technician. If necessary, they will be able to replace your AC condenser as it is an important component to the operation of the vehicle’s AC system.
How to Replace an A/C Condenser
This guide needs the following supplies:
- Refrigerant oil
Always wear safety glasses while working on your vehicle. Wear other personal protective equipment (PPE) whenever necessary, for example latex gloves or closed toe shoes.
the negative battery cable.
Find your A/C condenser.
Check the condenser for cracks that can lead to leaking.
Recover the refrigerant (Discharge the AC system). This will have to be done with a recovery machine. If the Freon has already leaked out you will not be needing to do this.
Remove any grilles, supports, lock braces for gaining access to the condenser.
Remove the refrigerant
lines of condenser. Cap these lines as soon as possible.
Take out the
condenser mounting bolts.
After that, remove the condenser.
Install a new condenser while making sure any rubber cushions fit properly on the condenser assembly.
Pour little amount of compressor oil into the line fittings. Then, reconnect the A/C lines and replace all O-rings
Re-install any component that were removed in order to gain access to the condenser.
Evacuate all remaining refrigerant with a specific AC machine that pulls a vacuum on the system.
Hold the vacuum for 10 minutes for checking for leaks.
Recharge the A/C system considering the recommended type and amount of refrigerant. Each vehicle has a different amount of refrigerant which is measured in pounds.
Lastly, reconnect the battery cable.
Test A/C system through measuring the temperature coming out of vents inside the vehicle.