Many drivers simply cannot live without air conditioning, especially on a hot summer day. If you’re one of those drivers, having a broken air conditioner probably sounds like a horrible thing (even worse than a traffic jam) that could happen to you on your daily commute. You could avoid this, if you know how to identify the problems of your air conditioning, for this we have brought you the common failures of an air conditioning condenser .
Your vehicle’s air conditioning system is made up of several parts that can fail, including the condenser. A non-functioning air conditioning system is one of the main symptoms of a bad condenser. If the entire air conditioning system in your car works correctly, including the condenser, you will be guaranteed a comfortable cabin, regardless of how hot it is outside. That is why it is essential that you know how to diagnose this component when it fails.
Symptoms and common failures of a damaged air conditioning condenser
When your air conditioning condenser starts to fail, it will manifest certain symptoms that you should be able to spot. The problem is that many of these signs also present with other malfunctioning parts.
To tell if you have a faulty air conditioner, look for the following signs that cause a few common a/c condenser failures:
1- The air conditioning is not as cold as it should be
A reduction in cooldown is the first sign that something is not right. If the condenser is damaged in any way, the flow of refrigerant may be restricted. It is also possible for the condenser fins to become damaged or clogged , thus reducing the performance of both the condenser and the entire air conditioning system.
Finally, if the condenser is leaking, this can lead to a low refrigerant charge and poor A/C performance.
2- Leaks occur in the A/C
As previously mentioned, the air conditioning condenser can leak. Most of the time you won’t see these leaks unless you look very closely. If at any point in the car’s life traces of dye have been added to the A/C system, the leak will appear bright green (always pay attention to the color of the fluid coming out of your car, as vehicle fluids come from in various colors).
Otherwise, with no dye in the system, all you’re likely to see is a faint outline of refrigerant oil. This problem usually occurs many times, which is why it is considered one of the common air conditioning condenser failures that can be easy to detect.
3- The air conditioning does not work at all
When the condenser is not working properly, the pressures in your system can stay too high . The vehicle automatically turns off the system when this happens to prevent further damage.
Also, if the condenser is leaking, the refrigerant charge may be low enough that the air conditioner won’t work.
How does an air conditioning condenser work?
The condenser, as the name suggests, converts gas or vapor into a liquid. In a car’s air conditioning system, this means that it cools the gaseous refrigerant into a liquid as it prepares to pass into the accumulator.
In older vehicles, the condenser processes R-12, while in 1995 and newer cars, it runs on R-134a.
Parts of the air conditioning system
While the condenser is vital to the normal operation of the air conditioner, there are actually six other components that work together in complete harmony to ensure that the system performs optimally. So when a customer brings his car to the dealership, he won’t immediately know why the air conditioning isn’t working, as different parts of the system often exhibit the same symptoms when they fail.
As previously mentioned, the condenser cools the refrigerant gas and returns it to its liquid form . Formed by a series of tubes, it resembles the radiator and is usually found just in front of it.
First we have the compressor, which is the most important part. It is responsible for pressurizing the air and moving it to the condenser.
On cars with a thermal expansion valve, you’ll also find a receiver/dryer. Its main function is to separate liquid and gas . A compressor breaks down if liquid finds its way inside it, so this piece of equipment removes all the moisture using a desiccant (like those pearl-filled packets you find when you buy electronics).
Any vehicle with an orifice tube tends to have an accumulator. This component controls and monitors the amount of refrigerant reaching the evaporator. It is also responsible for storing the refrigerant, removing moisture and filtering waste.
5- Thermal expansion valve
The thermal expansion valve or orifice tube is located between the condenser and the evaporator. These parts control the pressure and temperature within the air conditioning system . They also calculate the amount of refrigerant that can pass to the evaporator.
The last part of a car’s air conditioning system is the evaporator. It is located directly behind the instrument panel. The evaporator is responsible for cooling the air with refrigerant before it reaches the cabin.
What happens if an air conditioning condenser fails?
Anyone who has dealt with air conditioning problems in their car knows that troubleshooting and repair can get expensive quickly. Be careful where you take your car, as you can spend a lot of money on diagnostics and repairs, and end up not happy with the result.
Even so, it is essential for everyone that the air conditioning works properly , and most people just suck it up and pay the bill. If you’re mechanically inclined, it’s not too difficult to troubleshoot and diagnose your AC condenser, and repair the problem yourself.