How Does an AC Condenser Work?

Your vehicle’s air conditioning condenser is a critical component of this air-cooling and air-drying process. The condenser cools down the refrigerant (heated up by the compressor) and becomes a liquid (condensates) by transferring its heat to the flow of ambient air passing through it.

Your AC condenser sits in front of the radiator and its job is to change the refrigerant in the system from a gas to a very cool liquid, cooling the inside of your car.  The condenser provides you with comfort when you drive on hot days, they also expel heat from your car to level out the temperatures.

In the condenser, the gaseous refrigerant sheds heat and returns to a liquid state. In other words, the condenser condenses the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid.

5 Signs you have a bad Car AC Condenser

If you’re experiencing warm air, this might be the result of a clogged A/C condenser coil or a disabled cooling fan. A leak in the condenser also will result in a loss of refrigerant and, subsequently, less ability to shed heat and, thus, warmer air in the vehicle.

Problems that relate to a buildup of heat usually point to the A/C condenser since removing the system of heat is its main job.

Here are 5 signs you have a bad car ac condenser and a replacement is on the forecast.

warm air from ac vents

1. Warm Air From Vents

This is probably the first thing you will notice if your A/C condenser is failing. When you expect cool air and are hit with a lukewarm gust instead, the A/C condenser should be inspected for blockages or defects which cause restrictions in airflow.

If the flow of the gas and liquid are interrupted here then the entire system is unable to run at its maximum efficiency.

burning smell car ac

2. Burning Smell

When the vehicle can’t release the heat the A/C system builds up, then eventually the temperature of all of the parts will increase to the point that components start burning and emitting a smell while the A/C is turned on.

This is a serious problem and you will likely need to replace multiple parts of the system as they may be melted so badly that they no longer function.

coolant leaks car ac

3. Visible Coolant Leaks

As the A/C condenser contains refrigerant under high pressure, it is more prone to leaks if there are any vulnerabilities in the part.

Leaks due to failing seals is a normal part of the aging of the condenser, but the entire part should be replaced before all of the refrigerant leaks out of the system.

car ac overheating

4. Overheating While Idling

When your vehicle isn’t circulating refrigerant via the A/C condenser properly, you will find it won’t be able to eliminate the heat successfully, so it will begin to build up in the system.

Normally, the A/C condenser is cooled by the airflow it receives once the vehicle starts moving again, but if too much heat is built up by a faulty condenser then this normal behavior just won’t be enough cooling.

warning lights

5. Warning Lights on Dashboard

Some newer vehicles have a warning system that detects a problem with the air conditioning system and emits a warning light on the dashboard. Check your owner’s manual to see if this is something that you should watch for.

When to replace your car’s air conditioning condenser?

As with other equipment in the air-conditioning system, the condenser generally doesn’t need servicing/or replacing as long as the system is producing cold air, but it’s recommended to get a yearly inspection/diagnosis of your car’s ac to check the integrity of all it’s components including the condenser as well as check for leaks.

This way you have peace of mind that your AC is performing at optimal levels and discover potential issues early. If you experience any problems with your vehicle’s air conditioning system give your local car air conditioning specialists a call.

If you’re located in Brisbane contact Jack Frost on (07) 3180 3500 or visit our workshop located at 4/429 Creek Rd, Mount Gravatt East for all car ac condensers repairs and replacement services


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