The national cost for an ac evaporator core replacement with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $172 and $1654 with an average of $836.

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What is an AC evaporator core?

An AC evaporator core is an important part of the air conditioning (AC) system in your vehicle. It is typically located underneath or inside of the dashboard.

The evaporator core (or simply “evaporator”) receives liquid refrigerant as it passes through the expansion valve or fixed orifice tube. There inside the evaporator, the low-pressure liquid reaches its boiling point and turns to a gas. When this happens, it absorbs heat from the surrounding air - a lot of heat - causing the evaporator coils to cool considerably. Air passing through the cooled coils is blown into the passenger compartment through the vents.


How is a an AC Evaporator Core Replacement done?

The procedure to replace an AC evaporator core depends on the vehicle make and model as well as its location. Vehicles with rear AC often have two evaporator core units, one inside the dashboard and the other behind an interior trim panel in the rear cargo compartment. Gaining access to either location can be a challenge.

The evaporator is mounted inside the HVAC housing. In general, a technician will take the following steps to remove the housing and replace the evaporator core:

  • Using an AC recovery machine connected to the high and low side service ports, evacuate the refrigerant from the system
  • Remove any components that block access to the HVAC housing
  • Disconnect the refrigerant lines to and from the evaporator
  • Remove the air vents leading to and from the unit
  • Unbolt the housing and extract the unit from its mounting location
  • Disassemble the HVAC housing to remove the evaporator
  • Insert the new evaporator and secure the housing
  • Install the housing in the vehicle
  • Reconnect the AC lines to the evaporator
  • Replace all of the dashboard and other interior components removed for access
  • 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
  • It should be noted that, under federal law, it is illegal to vent refrigerants into the atmosphere. Therefore, it is essential that it be collected in an approved container by a specially-certified technician. Some vehicle manufacturers require that the AC receiver/drier also be replaced any time the system is opened and exposed to the atmosphere.

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National average cost of a an AC Evaporator Core Replacement
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How do I know if the evaporator core in my vehicle needs to be replaced?

A clogged or leaking evaporator core will not allow enough refrigerant to circulate and cool the air. The result is warm air (or air that is not sufficiently cool) coming from your vents. The system might refuse to work at all, so you might find that the compressor clutch does not engage, or the AC switch does not light up when you turn it on. You might also notice a bad odor when the system is running or a blinking AC light on the dashboard. These signs can also point to a number of other AC system problems, therefore it is necessary to have a qualified technician diagnose the issue.

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Other questions customers ask

How do I test my car's evaporator?
Testing the AC evaporator in your vehicle requires special tools, such as an AC manifold gauge set or recovery/recharging machine and leak detection dye. The gauge set is connected to the AC service ports on the high and low side lines. A can of refrigerant with dye is charged into the system and the engine is allowed to run for fifteen minutes to recirculate the dye. Any dye present outside of the evaporator would indicate a leak. The problem is that you cannot simply observe the evaporator due to its location. And AC system service requires not only special training, but certification as well.
How long does a car evaporator last?
As with any AC system component, the lifespan of the evaporator will depend on driving conditions and environmental factors. A vehicle operated or stored near a humid saltwater coast will fall victim to corrosion in the AC system more readily than one located in a dry climate. And an AC system that is used frequently in extremely hot conditions will wear faster than one used occasionally in mild climes. On average, you can expect your evaporator to last 10-15 years or so.
What causes a car evaporator to go bad?
Excessive corrosion, a failed seal or o-ring, or physical damage to the evaporator core itself can all lead to a refrigerant leak. It should be noted that a refrigerant leak is not necessarily the same thing as a leak coming from the evaporator. The evaporator coils tend to collect condensation. For this reason, manufacturers include a water drain tube that leads from the HVAC housing where the evaporator is located to the underside of your vehicle. It is not uncommon to see a puddle of water underneath your vehicle when the AC is running.

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