How Much Does It Cost To Fix AC In A Car?

Do you have issues with your car AC? How much does it cost to fix the AC in a car? It depends on many things so here is the ultimate guide.

The air condition and heater are one of your best friends on a hot summer day or a cold winter night. Unfortunately, just like everything else, the AC can inconveniently break.

Air condition problems may have many causes, the number one reason why an AC does not work is one or more leaks in the system.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about fixing the AC in your car, as well as finding out where the problem is.

In most cases the problem is due to one of the following cases:

  • Leaks in the AC system
  • Faulty AC compressor
  • Clogged filter
  • Other faulty components

Table of ContentsShow

How Does An AC Work?

Car AC Blowing Hot Air

Before we jump into the reasons for why an AC might be bad, understanding how the whole process of cooling your cabin will give you a greater understanding of the potential problem.

The air condition system works by changing the refrigerant from gas to a liquid state, this is done by a process that includes a few components.

At the start of the process, the AC compressor is connected to the engine’s crankshaft by a belt. Inside the compressor, several pistons compress the air, resulting in heat and high pressure.

The hot and pressurized gas then goes into the condenser where the gas cools and goes into a liquid form.

The liquid then goes through the dryer, which makes sure that no gas is present as it should not be there when continuing to the thermal expansion valve.

When the liquid comes to the expansion valve, the liquid is cooled to become a gas again, which then goes through an evaporator.

The heater fan will blow air from the outside through the cold evaporator, sending cold air inside the cabin.

This is a simplified description of how an AC works, for more details check our article which talks about how an air conditioning system works.

Cost To Fix A Faulty AC

Car AC Hot Air

As previously mentioned, there may be many reasons why an AC will not work properly. One of the reasons may be a problem in one of the components or a leak in one of the many hoses.

It is important to note that a faulty AC is best fixed in a professional repair shop as, by law, no refrigerant should be released into the atmosphere.

To comply with that, a special recovery machine must be used. Also, when filling the AC system, it must be done when there is a vacuum in the system. Air and moisture will cause many problems if it is in the system.

Depending on the problem, the cost might vary. In the next section, the most common problems and the auto AC repair cost will be discussed.

Leaks In The AC Systems

auto AC leak repair

Because of the operating pressure in the hoses and other components, everything has to be tightly sealed. It is normal for the refrigerant to leak a minimal amount (less than an ounce every year), but a greater leak may cause lots of trouble.

Leaks in the AC system will happen, not only due to the pressure and heat but also due to age as the material gets weaker with time.

When there is system is leaking, it will blow hot air instead. This may also happen if the AC is low on refrigerant.

When the refrigerant leaks, it can be inspected by UV dye that is injected into the system and later inspected outside of the system to see if any dye has escaped. This is necessary as when a leak occurs, it does so in gas form.

Cost To Fix An AC Leak

If it turns out that the system is leaking at one point, it is necessary to replace the component that is leaking. Unfortunately, it is possible that every component leak in one way or another.

If the compressor is running with a low amount of refrigerant for an extended period, it will break requiring a new compressor.

If the O-rings are leaking, which may be the case if the car is newer, they would need to be replaced. O-rings are a relatively small and cheap component because the whole system has to be depressurized and evacuated, the labor cost will be high.

A pack of O-rings will cost on average around $10, while a compressor might go for several hundred dollars. The labor cost will vary depending on the part that has to be fixed.

Expect the labor cost to be anywhere from $150 to $500. This means that the total cost, depending on the part that must be replaced, may be anywhere from $160 to $1000 and more.

Faulty AC Compressor

car ac compressor

If you turn on the air condition and notice that there is no cool air coming into the cabin, chances are that the compressor may be the culprit.

There are also other symptoms, such as abnormal noises or fluid leaks as describes above. Whatever the symptom is, you would need to replace the compressor if it does not work properly.

Cost To Fix An AC Compressor

As noted before, for any type of AC repair, the system has to be handled properly which, means that special tools and a relatively high labor cost will be a part of the repair equation.

Just like any type of car repair, the labor cost as well parts will depend on the car model you drive. On average a new AC compressor costs $100 to $200 while the labor cost fluctuates between $300 to $800 depending on the car model.

Clogged Filter

auto cabin air filter

A clogged cabin filter may present with several symptoms, the most prominent would be an insufficient airflow into the cabin.

It is also possible that more dust, pollen, and pollutants get into the cabin as the filter is ineffective.

Also, not only may the filter be clogged but also the condenser, which is located right behind the car’s grille.

Leaves, bugs, and other potential things in the road may block the airflow into the condenser which will compromise the effectiveness of the AC.

Cost To Fix A Clogged Filter

Luckily, this is not an expensive fix and can be done within a few minutes with little to no expertise.

A new cabin filter costs around $10 to $20. Changing the filter only takes a few minutes and is very easy to do. There is a high risk that dealerships and shops will overcharge you for a change of the cabin filter.

Therefore, changing the cabin filter is best done by yourself. You may also ask a professional to change the cabin filter if your car is in the shop for another issue. There is a good chance, they will do it for free.

If the condenser is clogged, simply remove the dirt, leaves, or whatever may obstruct it. Simple and cheap!

Other Faulty Components

car ac condenser

There is a risk that other components of the AC are faulty, they would then need to be addressed accordingly.

All the components may be affected such as the compressor, evaporator, condenser, hoses, and more.

If this happens, the work must be done with professional tools in order to make sure that the system does not get contaminated.

Because of the labor cost, the cost of the repair may be high, depending on the component that has to be replaced, the total could easily come up to over $1000 for labor and parts.


how does car air conditioning work

The air condition makes the cabin of your car cool and pleasant. It works by changing the state of the refrigerant from gas to liquid which involves high pressures and temperatures.

As time passes many components will deteriorate which will lead to problems with the AC. A leak is a fairly common problem when the AC does not work as it should.

It can take a few hours to find out the culprit. To find a potential leak, a dye may be injected while other refrigerants come with a dye from the factory.

With the UV dye, a potential leak may be seen when lighting up the engine compartment with a UV light.

The cost to fix the AC varies a lot depending on the problem. It varies from a cheap free fix to more than one thousand dollars. So there’s not really a definitive answer to auto AC repair costs.

Changing the cabin filter is best done as a DIY project, while fixing leaks, changing the compressor and other instances where the system has to be emptied is best done by a professional.

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Bajro Muric
Bajro Muric

Bajro is a big car enthusiast with a love for writing and teaching. He writes about anything regarding cars - from common problems and fixes to racing.