How to Repair a Toyota Corolla Air Conditioner

by Chris Moore

The air conditioner in your Toyota Corolla is made up of three main components--the compressor, the condenser and the receiver-drier. If you need to repair or replace any of these parts, you must have the air conditioning system discharged--only a licensed automotive air conditioning technician can do this. Once your work is done, take the car back to the same technician to have the system evacuated, recharged and leak tested.


Raise the car's front end and support it on jack stands. Remove the engine under cover if one is equipped.

Remove the drive belt from the compressor by rotating the belt tensioner clockwise with a wrench, or breaker bar and socket and slipping the belt off its pulleys.

Detach the compressor's wiring connector and disconnect the refrigerant lines by unbolting their flanges.

Unbolt the compressor and lift it out of the vehicle.

Fill the new or rebuilt compressor with refrigerant oil as per the specific instructions given with that compressor.

Mount and bolt the compressor in place and reconnect the wiring connector and refrigerant lines. Use new O-rings on the fittings that are specifically made for R-134a refrigerant and lubricate them with the refrigerant oil.

Reconnect all other parts like the drive belt, then lower the car.


Drain the engine coolant. Place a large container under the radiator drain plug, attach a hose to the drain fitting and open it with pliers to drain the coolant into the container. Repeat this for the engine block drain plug.

Remove the radiator from the car by detaching the upper and lower hoses and cooler lines, disconnecting the reservoir hose from the radiator neck, unbolting the two upper mounting brackets and lifting the radiator out.

Disconnect the inlet and outlet fittings to the condenser by removing their flange bolts. Cap the fittings to prevent contaminants and moisture from getting into the system.

Remove the condenser's mounting bolts from the radiator support, angle the condenser back and lift it out.

Install the replacement or rebuilt condenser with its brackets and bolts; make sure the rubber cushions fit properly on the mounting points.

Fill the condenser with 1.5 to 2 ounces of refrigerant oil; the oil must be compatible with R-134a refrigerant.

Install the radiator and all other parts in reverse order of removal.

Refill the cooling system through the radiator fill neck, using a fresh 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze, then add more coolant to the reservoir up to the lower fill mark.


Remove the large plug at the bottom of the receiver-drier with an Allen wrench. The plug is located at the end of the condenser at the passenger's side of the car.

Grip the filter-drier element inside the receiver with pliers and remove it.

Install the new filter-drier into the receiver using the pliers.

Reinstall the plug, lubricating its O-ring with a small bit of refrigerant oil.

Instruct the technicians at the shop to add new refrigerant oil to the system when you take the car to have its AC system recharged.


  • After refilling the coolant, replace the radiator cap and run the engine until the upper radiator hose gets hot. Shut off the engine, let it cool and then add more coolant to the lip on the radiator filler neck.

Items you will need


About the Author

Chris Moore has been contributing to eHow since 2007 and is a member of the DFW Writers' Workshop. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas-Arlington.

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