Condensers are located on the front of the vehicle, typically in front of the radiator. Because of their location, almost every time, removing the front bumper assembly is required to replace them.
Since it is located at the front of the vehicle, the condenser is prone to leakage from rocks or debris hitting it through the vents / grill in the bumper. As condensers have no moving parts, leakage is the number one cause of failure.
The second largest cause of failure is restrictions inside the cooling fins. The restrictions can come from contaminants; from the refrigerant; from a contaminated ac machine; from a previous service; from a failing receiver dryer filter; or from debris from a failing compressor. These restrictions will prevent the refrigerant from cooling properly and will gradually decrease the AC system’s ability to cool the passengers.
What’s the Price of an AC Condenser Replacement in UK?
The car AC condenser replacement cost can vary depending on how difficult it is to access. On some vehicles, once the bumper is removed, the condenser becomes easily accessible.
On other vehicles, even after removing the bumper, sometimes the transmission coolers, the turbo intercoolers, or the radiator cross support must be removed. Thereby, all AC system components require an evacuation and recharge to be performed first, and thus, there is an additional cost.
Assuming a labour rate of £70 an hour for independent shops and £100 an hour for dealerships, for the following estimates. As always, labour rates in the UK can be dependent on the region they’re located in.
- For a 2010 Ford Mustang
The flat rate labour time is 1.1 hours. This car does not require the bumper to be removed as shown by its low labor rate.
At an independent shop, the labour cost would come to around £77, and an aftermarket condenser would cost you somewhere between £50 and £95. This condenser comes with the dryer built in, so no additional parts are needed.
The car AC condenser cost at the dealership for this vehicle includes the labour cost of around £110, and for a Ford condenser, it would be approximately £140 to £210. No additional parts are required as the dryer is built into the condenser on the factory condenser as well.
- For a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta
The labor time required is 3.9 hours. This car requires the entire bumper assembly to be removed and that is why the labor is much greater than the Ford Mustang.
At an independent shop, the labour would cost around £273, and for an aftermarket condenser, the price would range between £70 and £130. The receiver dryer is also built into the condenser for this car.
At the dealership, the labour would cost around £390, and the factory condenser would range between £240 and £325 depending on the location. The factory condenser also has the dryer built in, so no additional parts are needed.
- For a 2001 Honda CR-V
The labor time is 1 hour to replace the condenser and an additional 0.6 hour to replace the receiver dryer as on this car, it is not part of the condenser assembly.
At an independent shop, the labour would cost around £70 for the condenser and £42 for the receiver drier. An aftermarket condenser would range between £40 and £70, and the drier would range between £20 and £40.
At the dealership, the labour for the condenser would cost around £100 and the drier would be around £60. For a factory condenser, it would range between £320 and £410. The receiver drier would range between £65 and £130.
More About The AC Condenser
In a car’s air conditioning system, the condenser plays a very important role. When the air conditioning is turned on, the refrigerant absorbs heat from inside the cabin through the evaporator. The compressor compresses the refrigerant gas before it travels to the condenser (and receiver drier if equipped).
The refrigerant gas is very hot at this time, as it has absorbed the heat from inside the cabin. Dissipating the heat from the refrigerant is the job of the condenser.
This high-pressure hot gas travels into the condenser to be cooled down by the air passing through the condenser as well as by the air that is drawn through by the radiator fan and condenser fan.
Some cars have a separate unit called the “receiver drier”, whereas others have this built directly into the condenser itself. The receiver drier filters the refrigerant and absorbs moisture that may be in the system.
Any moisture in the system will decrease the cooling ability of the AC system and also damage the compressor if the moisture is excessive. The condenser has no moving parts, and its purpose is to cool the refrigerant. The drier – either external or internal – on the condenser filters also removes moisture with the use of no moving parts. When the refrigerant cools down, it condenses back into a liquid before it travels onward to the evaporator.
Whenever the air conditioning is on, both the radiator and the condenser fans should turn on to begin cooling down the condenser. In some cars, these fans may start at low speed and adjust automatically based on the needs of the vehicle, while some manufacturers will have fans set to the highest speed regardless.
Why would you need to have it replaced?
- If your AC system is suddenly blowing warm air, you may have a leaking condenser. The first (and best) thing to do in this situation is to have your AC system inspected. The best way to find a leaking condenser is to have fluorescent dye injected into your system. With ultraviolet light, the dye will illuminate, showing the location of the leak.
- If a large rock has damaged your condenser – usually resulting in a rapid loss of AC cooling – it can usually be detected with just a visual inspection.
- If your condenser becomes clogged or restricted, it will usually cause your AC to get warmer until the point at which it does not provide any cooling.
- A restricted condenser is harder to find as you cannot see inside of it. A well-trained technician is required to find this problem. They will diagnose this problem by checking the temperature changes across the condenser or by the use of a thermal imaging camera.
- What about the receiver drier if it’s not part of the condenser? The drier should be replaced if your vehicle has leaks.
- When a leak is present, moisture now has a way into your system. Too much moisture can cause corrosion inside the system, which can damage the compressor, costing you more money.