The national cost for an ac compressor replacement with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $243 and $1084 with an average of $675.

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What is an AC compressor?

An AC compressor is a central component of the air conditioning (AC) system. The compressor is mounted to a bracket on the engine and driven by the serpentine belt. It is also filled with a special oil to lubricate its internal components.

The AC compressor takes in refrigerant in gaseous form and compresses it to a high pressure, as much as 300 psi, and then sends the refrigerant to the condenser. There, the refrigerant cools and condenses into a liquid, travels to the expansion valve where it drops in pressure, and makes its way to the evaporator where it turns back into a gas before heading back to the compressor once more.

The aim of this process is to remove warm air from the passenger compartment and allow cool air to enter.


How is a an AC Compressor Replacement done?

To replace an AC compressor, a technician will first need to evacuate the AC system using a special machine to capture the refrigerant (it is illegal to vent AC refrigerant into the atmosphere, and only a technician with a designated certification may perform the service). Once the system is empty, a technician will generally take the following steps, depending on the make and model of your vehicle:

  • Remove any components blocking access to the AC compressor
  • Relieve the tension on the serpentine belt and displace the belt from the compressor pulley
  • Disconnect and remove the aluminum hoses leading to and from the compressor
  • Unbolt the compressor from its bracket on the engine
  • Add special oil (in the correct type and amount) to the new compressor
  • Mount the new compressor into its bracket
  • Attach the AC lines to the compressor
  • Reinstall the serpentine belt, taking care to ensure proper routing around all accessory pulleys
  • Using the AC machine, evacuate the system of all air and moisture
  • Allow the system to remain under vacuum for up to 30 minutes
  • Charge the system with an amount of refrigerant specific to your vehicle
  • Start your engine and test the system to verify the repair
  • Some vehicle manufacturers require that the AC receiver/drier be replaced whenever the system is opened up to the atmosphere. The same might also be required in order to validate the warranty on the new AC compressor.

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National average cost of a an AC Compressor Replacement
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How do I know if my vehicle needs a new AC compressor?

If the AC compressor fails, the air conditioning will not operate. The compressor is designed to shut down if the system leaks and runs low on refrigerant. Therefore, the fact that the compressor will not turn on is not necessarily a sign that it has failed. Still, an inoperative AC compressor could be a signal that it needs replacement. Your vehicle might need a new AC compressor if you notice one or more of the following symptoms:

The air coming from the vents is not as cool as usual or is warm

The AC switch does not light up when you activate the AC system

The AC light blinks on the dashboard

You notice oil or moisture leaking from the compressor

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Other questions customers ask

Can I drive with a broken AC compressor?
Driving with a broken AC compressor in some cases may be dangerous. If the problem with the component is merely that it has stopped working, perhaps due to an electrical issue, there might be no concern other than a loss of air conditioning in the cabin. On the other hand, if the problem is due to bad internal shaft bearings, then the serpentine belt that drives other systems - your power steering, electrical system (alternator) and more - will also fail. Loss of power and steering can be quite a cause for concern.
What causes AC compressor failure?
An AC compressor typically fails due to a lack of proper lubrication. The AC system - and the compressor in particular - includes a special lubricant oil that ensures the compressor keeps working. If a refrigerant leak occurs in the system, compressor oil will leak out. Oil in the system will no longer circulate properly, and the compressor will be starved of lubrication. Overheating, shaft and bearing failure, and seizure can result. Other causes of AC compressor failure include refrigerant that is charged at too high a pressure, contaminants in the refrigerant, and blocked or dirty condenser cooling fins.
Why is AC repair so expensive?
Specialized (and expensive) tools and equipment are essential when a technician services the AC system on your vehicle. A refrigerant recovery machine is necessary to capture the refrigerant that is extracted from the system. There are several refrigerants on the market, and a separate machine is needed for each. Some of those machines cost more than $6K. The refrigerant itself is also expensive. And the technician performing the service must be specially certified to do so. All these factors play into the cost of AC system repairs.

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