Do Not Overlook Your Car's Air Conditioning Condenser

People may overlook their car's air conditioning condenser, but it plays an important role in keeping the car cool. The small, radiator-like part is often unnoticeable unless you are cleaning out debris from your grille. The condenser tends to get no attention until there is a problem. When the condenser does not work, the entire air conditioning system won't work the way it is supposed to.

What do condensers do? The condenser works in a similar way that your car's radiator works, but with refrigerant instead of coolant. It takes high pressure, hot refrigerant gas from the compressor and cools it back down to a liquid. As a liquid, it can then move on to the dryer to continue through the system.

Where is the condenser located?  Condensers are usually located in the front of the radiator so that it can be assisted by natural air flow. They look like a smaller radiator complete with tubes and fins.

What can go wrong with a condenser? Since the condensers are usually placed at the front of the car, they are at risk for damage. They can get hit by rocks or bumped in minor car accidents. It can also be damaged or plugged by debris in the same way the main radiator can.

How do you know when a condenser is not working? When a condenser goes bad, the air coming out of the vents will be air temperature or even warm. Another symptom is that a recharge won't hold. Even if you suspect the condenser, the entire system will need to be checked. Air conditioning systems are complicated with many parts that could have failed instead or at the same time. Technicians will run a dye through the system to check for leaks and will also check the belts that turn the compressor.

What if something is wrong with the condenser? Minor damage to seals and small leaks can sometimes be repaired without replacing the condenser. Whether this is possible depends on the type of condenser and the size of the leak. Some repairs may require welding. For multiple leaks or heavier damage, the entire condenser will have to be replaced.

The condenser is one important part of an entire system of components that keep cool air flowing into your vehicle. Each part, no matter how benign they appear, needs to work or else the rest of the components won't be able to do their job. Keep an eye on your condensers and see a technician (such as one from Redlands Auto Electric) if you suspect there might be a problem.