Could a Blocked or Damaged Condenser Cause Your Car's AC to Malfunction?

Posted on: 10 February 2023

Truth be told, many people don't realise how an automobile air conditioning system works. In reality, they are just happy that they can get that cool blast of air whenever they jump into their car and turn on the switch. Yet, if that activation does not produce the desired result, their attention will quickly focus on what is wrong. And if you're steaming in your vehicle rather than getting ready for an enjoyable ride, what should you do next?

How the System Should Work

If your vehicle's air conditioning system is to work correctly, several parts must function in tandem to transport the refrigerant through a specific loop. This refrigerant is pushed under pressure from the compressor and through an evaporator. This heat exchange mechanism is installed close to the front of the cabin. Meanwhile, the condenser sits next to the radiator and helps to dissipate the unwanted heat. So, as the cabin heat is absorbed, the refrigerant vaporises within the evaporator. This heat is then released as the refrigerant turns back from a vapour into a liquid within the condenser.

Problems with the Condenser

Often, issues can be linked to the condenser. After all, it's rather vulnerable to damage as it is fitted right on the front of the vehicle. So, if any rocks or other debris is thrown up, this can puncture the fins and tubes that form the surface of the unit. Corrosion could be another issue, which can also lead to a leak.

Signs of an Issue

Should the refrigerant leak out, the air conditioning system will stop working. You may notice some tell-tale signs if you can see a greenish residue on the outside of the condenser or on the ground beneath.

The condenser can also become clogged as debris accumulates with time. This will make it more difficult for the air to flow across the condenser fins and reduce the system's efficiency.

What to Do Next

Unfortunately, it may not be easy to repair a damaged condenser, and you may need to get it replaced instead. But if this is the case, ensure that you take the vehicle to a mechanic for any scheduled service. They will typically assess the air conditioning system and carry out any preventative maintenance, so you can try to avoid such issues in the future. You can also inspect the outside surface of the condenser from time to time and get rid of any accumulated debris, road salt or other threats.

For more information about auto air conditioning repair, contact a local auto shop.