How to Replace an Auto A/C Condenser

by Lee Sallings

As the cold refrigerant in the air-conditioning system moves through the evaporator and absorbs heat from the passenger compartment, it is then routed to the condenser and released to the outside air flowing through the cooling system. Because of its position at the front of the vehicle, the condenser is the victim of the occasional errant rock and impact damage from a fender bender. Replacement requires that you remove the radiator and surrounding parts to gain access.

Remove any refrigerant remaining in the system. Releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere damages the ozone layer, so proper recovery is required. Your local auto repair shop will do this for you, and it does not cost very much.

Draining the coolant from the radiator. Remove the radiator cap by pushing down and twisting it off by hand. Open the drain at the bottom of one of the tanks, and allow the coolant to drain into a container for disposal.

Disconnect the radiator hoses, transmission lines, radiator hold-downs and cooling fan assembly, using the socket sets and wrenches as needed. When the radiator is clear of obstructions, remove it from the engine compartment.

Remove the condenser by disconnecting the refrigerant lines and unbolting the condenser from the radiator core support (the front frame of the vehicle), using the socket sets and wrenches as needed. Lift the condenser out of the engine compartment.

Transfer any retaining clips and rubber vibration dampeners from the old condenser to the new one, and place the new condenser into place in the engine compartment. Bolt the condenser into place on the core support, and restore the refrigerant line connections after replacing the O-ring seals on the lines. Tighten with a wrench.

Reinstall the radiator into position in the engine compartment, and reattach the radiator hoses and transmission lines. Reinstall the cooling fan assembly, and close the drain on the radiator. Fill the cooling system with a mixture of antifreeze and water.

Items you will need

About the Author

Lee Sallings is a freelance writer from Fort Worth, Texas. Specializing in website content and design for the automobile enthusiast, he also has many years of experience in the auto repair industry. He has written Web content for eHow, and designed the DIY-Auto-Repair.com website. He began his writing career developing and teaching automotive technical training programs.