The AC condenser fan is a component of your vehicle’s air conditioning system. The fan is actually an assembly made up of a fan blade, motor, and housing or shroud. The job of the AC condenser fan assembly is to cool the refrigerant down as it passes through the condenser.
For your vehicle to produce cool air in the passenger compartment, refrigerant must undergo a series of stages inside the AC system. First, the AC compressor takes in refrigerant in gaseous form and compresses it to create a hot high pressure gas. From there, the refrigerant goes to the condenser, where it turns from a hot gas to a cool liquid as it condenses. Air passing through the condenser (a device similar to - and mounted just ahead of - the radiator) helps to cool the refrigerant, aided by the condenser fan. This aid is especially needed when your vehicle is standing still with the AC engaged.
From there, the refrigerant travels to many more spots in the system before it returns to the compressor to start the journey all over again.
Most of the time, when an AC condenser fan assembly goes bad it is due to a failed fan motor, and the first sign that it has stopped working is when your AC will no longer cool the cabin. When the refrigerant is unable to condense, the pressure in the system builds and the vehicle’s computer disables the AC system. Besides an air conditioner that is inoperative, you might also notice a few other signs. For instance, you might notice a warning light on the dashboard. If a problem with the AC system becomes serious, you could smell a burning odor. Or your engine could overheat. In some cases, the AC system could spring a refrigerant leak.
Unfortunately, each of the symptoms associated with a bad AC condenser fan can also be attributed to other causes, like a bad fan relay or low refrigerant levels.
The AC condenser fan assembly is typically mounted next to the engine cooling fan assembly directly behind the radiator in the engine compartment. To replace the assembly, a technician will disconnect the battery, taking care to preserve the computer’s memory. Any shields, covers, or other components that block access to the fan shroud mounts must be removed as well. From there, the technician will unplug the assembly from the wiring harness, locate and remove all of the fasteners that hold the assembly in place, and extract the fan assembly from the vehicle.
Most of the time, the entire assembly is replaced as a unit. But in some cases, the fan motor might be changed out instead. In the event that only the motor is replaced, the technician will detach the fan blade from the fan motor, remove the motor from the housing or shroud, and insert a new motor. With the new motor in place, the technician will place the assembly into the vehicle, install the fasteners, plug in the wiring connector, and reinstall any components that were removed for access.
The last step in the repair is usually to verify that the AC system is working properly, including a test of the air temperature coming from the vents inside the vehicle.