How much will it cost to repair an AC leak in my car?

cost to repair an ac leak in car image shows technician gassing an ac system

An ac leak in a car is quite a common thing. Here we look at the cost to repair an ac leak in a car. A small amount of water always drips from car air con. But we’re not talking about this: we’re talking about the sort of leaking air con that prevents it working properly. Of course, it might just need a refrigerant recharge, more commonly known as a regas. But the likelihood is if the system, and include climate control in that, isn’t working at all, it’s something more serious. And the bad news is, repairing an ac leak in a car can result in costly repairs.

cost to repair ac leak in car image showing a car's air con condenser
This is what an air con condenser looks like

Car ac leak repair

Refrigerant leaks are the most common reason why a car’s air conditioning stops working properly. The ac system is closed and under pressure so even a pin-prick hole can cause refrigerant levels to dribble away. The system also lives beneath the bonnet, in an environment that’s hot and can be liable to damage from errant stones, either fired in through the vents or up from the road.

What is a car ac condenser?

Car air con uses a condenser to cool its refrigerant back down to ambient temperature. This happens after that refrigerant has been employed to ‘condition’ and cool the air inside the car.

The condenser is usually positioned towards the front of the engine, ahead of the radiator but behind the front bumper. Look through your car’s grille and although you might think you’re looking at the radiator, what you’re probably seeing is the condenser’s fins.

Where is the most common place for car air con to leak?

While the condenser needs to be in this position to be most effective at cooling, it can be vulnerable to small stones being flicked up and fired at it by vehicles in front. If you’re unlucky, these stones will make a hole in the condenser causing a fluid leak.

The air con system also has a series of seals. These are prone to drying out which results in leaks as well. To prevent this happening, it’s best to keep the air con on throughout the year. You can then adjust the temperature and where the vents are pointing to suit your needs.

How do you know if you’ve got leaking air con?

Your air con won’t lower the temperature so on a hot day the air coming through the vents will be just as warm as if you had the windows open. Also, your air con will be less effective at clearing mist from the inside of the glass when it’s wet outside. This is because the air will no longer be ‘conditioned’ and have the moisture pulled out of it.

How to check if your ac is working

If your ac isn’t working, open the bonnet. With a torch, check the condenser’s fins at the front. If they’re leaking you’ll probably see some oily residue around them. The air con coolant has a small amount of oil in it (this is what lubricates the seals in the system). If it’s leaking out, it’ll mix with the dust coming off the road and leave its oily mark.

How will a garage find an ac leak?

A garage will be able to pinpoint where the leak is by adding dye to the system. Using a UV light will highlight this dye, showing exactly where the ac leak repair is required.

How much does car air conditioning leak repair cost in the UK?

This depends on what the problem is. Broken air conditioning is tricky to sort out by the home mechanic. The refrigerant can be harmful to the environment so it’s best to get a qualified technician on the job.

Unfortunately, if it is the condenser that needs replacing, it’ll be expensive. It’s a major component that costs a lot and you’ll need to have the system fully charged with gas. The average cost of air conditioning repairs will probably be at the thick end of £500, even if you have the job done by an independent garage.

By the time you’ve had the problem diagnosed and fixed, the cost to repair an ac leak in car could set you back as much as £1,200.

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