How Much Does It Cost To Fix AC In A Car?

Want to know how much it costs to fix the air conditioning in a car? We break down the average cost of repairs, what can go wrong and more.

Car Ac Repair

If your car air conditioning system isn’t as cold as it should be, it’s time to do something about it before you get too uncomfortable. How much does it cost to fix AC in a car? There are multiple factors that change the repair cost.

In this guide, we cover the different aspects of repairing the AC system and the related costs. We also look at the signs that your air conditioning system needs repair. Finally, we give you the tips you need to ensure the air conditioning is always running at optimal levels. 

How Much Does It Cost To Fix AC In A Car?

You can expect to pay between $10 and $1,000 to fix a car’s AC. You could spend as little as $10 if you simply need to recharge the refrigerant, and you can perform the work yourself. However, if components need to be replaced or you need a professional mechanic to work on them, you could quickly spend $1,000 or more.

Here is a more detailed list of what repairs can be needed to be done to the AC system.

1. AC System Leak

It’s possible that the system is just low on refrigerant. This is the cheapest and easiest problem to repair. If you have the gauges and experience to recharge the system, you can pick up a can of Freon for $10 or less (Even if we strongly recommend a professional mechanic with the right tools to fill it to avoid issues).

However, if the refrigerant continues to be low, there could be a leak involved. As a closed system, refrigerant shouldn’t be able to leak out more than an ounce per year. As the hoses and clamps get older, it’s possible for them to wear and break. 

You can use a special UV dye to find the cause of the leak. This dye gets pumped into the system and you look for leaks with the special glasses provided. 

You must repair any leaks you find before you can recharge the system. If the leak is occurring at an O-ring, you are looking at a minimal amount of money. On the other hand, some parts will cost $500 or more to repair. Either way, you don’t want to let a leak persist because it’s bad for the environment and it can lead to damage to the compressor.

2. Clogged Cabin Filter

You might not relate the cabin air filter to the temperature in the car, but it’s important to evaluate. If the air is getting warmer, the filter could be clogged. A clogged filter won’t let the right amount of airflow through the system. You can prevent a clogged filter by changing it regularly. Most manufacturers recommend replacing it every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. 

Again, this fix isn’t expensive and can be done in your home garage with virtually no tools. Your new cabin filter might cost $10 to $25. It should only take you a few minutes to get the clogged filter out and put the new one in. If you can’t do it on your own, you might need to spend an hour for labor. 

READ MORE: 5 Symptoms of a Bad Cabin Air Filter (& Replacement Cost)

3. Faulty AC Compressor

There are many mechanical parts that can go bad, but most often, the air conditioning compressor is the one that fails. When the compressor goes out, there will be no cool air coming from the vents. It can also make unusual sounds when the system is on. 

Many people don’t have the expertise to work on the compressor. It requires special tools to replace and will cost a lot of labor. You can expect to pay about $100 to $250 for the compressor, while the labor can add another $250 to $750 to the bill. 

READ MORE: 6 Symptoms of a Bad AC Compressor (& Replacement Cost)

4. Malfunctioning Mechanical Parts

There are many other parts that make up the air conditioning system. While the compressor is the most likely to fail, you can’t overlook that one of the others has gone bad. It’s possible for the condenser and evaporator to fail as well. On top of that, the blower motor could go out, causing a lack of flow in the cabin. 

With any mechanical failure, the part needs to be replaced with the help of professional tools and the system needs to be recharged. Depending on what type of car you drive and the part that needs to be replaced, you could easily spend $1,000 or more when all is said and done. 

RELATED: 5 Symptoms of a Bad Car A/C Condenser (& Replacement Cost)

How Long Does Car Air Conditioning System Work?

When you drive a car, you want to know how long the parts are going to last. You already know how often to change the oil, rotate the tires and check the brakes. However, not much is discussed about the time you can expect from your air conditioning system.

In most cases, it’s normal to need a refrigerant recharge every couple of years. Some people choose to have the AC system checked yearly before hot weather sets in. These inspections usually cost around $100 but give you peace of mind when you need to cool off the cabin. During a professional inspection, the refrigerant levels are checked and all of the vital components are evaluated. 

Hoses can fail at times, especially with many years of use. The compressor is also a common component to fail, normally lasting eight to ten years. However, it will fail prematurely if you don’t take care of the air conditioning system or you run it with low refrigerant. 

Signs it’s Time to Have the AC System Serviced

The main sign that something is wrong is the air coming from the system becomes warmer than normal. Depending on what has failed, this process can be a slow change or sudden. You could also notice some strange smells coming from the system when parts fail.

Aside from this, you want to have the air conditioning system checked if you hear any strange sounds, whether it would be grinding or squealing. Of course, you need to take action if you notice any broken parts, such as damaged hoses. 

RELATED: Car AC Not Blowing Cold Air? Common Causes (& How to Fix)

Car AC System Maintenance

The best way to ensure that your car’s air conditioning system continues running as it should is to perform regular maintenance. Many people don’t think the air conditioning system should be checked often, but it needs to be included with your regularly scheduled maintenance.

Here are some tips to keep the AC system running its best.

  • Run the air conditioner every week. It’s best to keep it running for at least ten minutes at the highest speed and coldest setting. This simple step helps to maintain gas pressure.
  • Run defrost mode every week. You only need to leave it on for about five minutes each week. This step clears out the moisture and helps to reduce mildew growth.
  • Use air conditioning in the winter. Even when it’s cold outside, you can turn on the air conditioner to remove moisture and humidity from the air.
  • Recharge the system when needed. Check the air conditioning every year or two and recharge when needed to protect the compressor.
  • Perform air conditioning repair as soon as there are signs of failure. By letting the problem continue, you could be allowing other failures that cost more to repair. 

With your attention to detail, it’s easy to keep the air conditioning running its best, ensuring that you get the cold air you need, just when it’s desired the most.

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Magnus Sellén
Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of Mechanicbase. He has been working as a car mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced car diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.