Air conditioning in a vehicle is a very important feature that once it stops working, you really miss it. Perhaps you’ve gone most of the year not using it, but then a super hot day comes along and your air conditioner just blows hot air. So long does it take to fix the air conditioner in a car?
Small leaks in a car’s air conditioner can be fixed within a few minutes but large scale repairs will take hours. Sometimes as you inspect the system, you’ll find more and more problems, easily costing you hours and possibly thousands of dollars to fix.
Some quick remedies can be performed by you and I’ll take you through how to do it. However, I’ll also point out some signs that your air conditioner needs to be looked at by a professional and also how much that will cost you.
How Long Will It Take To Fix?
Air conditioning systems are complicated and often need an experienced mechanic to completely fix issues.
Generally, even simple diagnostics require specialized equipment in order to service an air conditioner correctly. On top of this environmental regulations must be followed regarding the refrigerant, particularly removing and disposing of it safely.
If you suspect low coolant, topping it up yourself shouldn’t take very long. There are refrigerant recharge kits you can purchase at auto parts stores. However, you must be careful as a constant need to top up coolant could be a sign of bigger issues.
For the replacement of parts, the time it takes will vary wildly depending on the make of the vehicle. Some air conditioning systems have their separate components all over the vehicle, not to mention the wires and sensors running between all the parts.
The replacement of the compressor should take around 1.5 hours by a skilled mechanic. Keep in mind that during this process they may discover other issues with the system. This time does not include the flushing and recharge of the system.
General cleaning of the orifice, intake vents, and accumulator are additional components that may need to be replaced if the compressor has failed. This can add an hour to the process.
As the age of the air conditioning system advances, the chance of leaks increases. Even if you always perform routine maintenance, the general wear and tear of driving and road conditions mean that any of these components could fail. Diagnosing and fixing leaks can take 2 to 3 hours.
There are several moving parts in an air conditioning system that commonly fail.
Sometimes referred to as actuators, a skilled mechanic should be able to diagnose such a problem quickly and replace it. Most vehicles contain these behind the glovebox and so a replacement can be done in less than 45 minutes.
A condenser looks like a smaller version of the engine radiator. Look near the front of the car, between the front gate and the radiator to find it. A pair of cooling fans is normally mounted to it as well. Fixing issues with the condenser will take an hour or so.
How Do I Fix My Own Car Air Conditioning?
First, you want to make sure you are operating the air conditioning properly. It is common, especially with climate zones, to have one zone working and the other not. Consult the user’s manual and make sure the settings are correct.
As always, road projectiles picked up while driving can compromise any system in the vehicle. Damage caused by this may not be that easily fixable.
Slight delays before the air turns cold or hot are expected. This is because the system needs to pump coolant or refrigerant and use physical processes to cool the air. However if after a few minutes the heating or cooling is not working this could be signs of an issue.
Coolant leaks can be very hard to fix if the leak is in an awkward place. However, you should check joints and connection hoses from the main components of your air conditioning system to see if there are obvious leaks you can fix.
Sealant tape or other automotive sealing products will fix this issue. Properly sealing up a small leak shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
Another component of the air conditioning is the condenser. With a visual inspection, you may be able to spot a clog, but other tests may be needed if a leak is present. Superficial cleaning may get some results and will only take a few minutes.
The air conditioning is regulated via an electrical system that can suffer from the usual issues. For example, blown fuses or damaged wires as well as the age of the system, or a power surge can wreak havoc.
Replacing fuses can be straightforward and should not take too long, perhaps 30 minutes. Fixing up other electrical issues is likely going to require the hands of an expert.
Faulty cooling fans will stop the air from being blown through the system. Unfortunately, as they are fragile, damage to them is not uncommon. Try checking them for obvious damage and replace them if necessary, this will take about 45 minutes to an hour.
Road salt picked up while driving in colder climates will destroy many systems on a car. It is always a good idea to wash your vehicle’s underside regularly to clean off this salt. Leaks can form easily in your air conditioning system through the corrosive effects of salt.
How Much Will It Cost To Fix A Car’s Air Conditioning?
Labor charges will make taking your vehicle to be fixed quite expensive. Complicated issues including difficulty in actually diagnosing the issue are just going to add more labor time to fix the issue.
While minor leaks can be fixed by yourself, if after your repairs there is still an issue, it’s time to bite the bullet. Delaying repairs to the air conditioning unit will likely just cause even more damage.
As a rough estimate, most air conditioning repairs it will cost into the hundreds or even thousands. It is hard to know until a proper diagnostic has been completed and the scope of the problem is realized. If you have attempted repairs and made the issue worse, expect to pay more to fix it.