How to Replace a Condenser in a Corollaby Chris Moore
The condenser is one of the main parts of any air-conditioning system, including the one in a Toyota Corolla. It converts the refrigerant gas in the system into a liquid before the refrigerant goes into the evaporator. If needed, the condenser can be replaced by itself on the car's air-conditioning system. The condenser is directly connected to the radiator, and you need to remove the radiator to reach the condenser.
Removing the Radiator
Take the car to have the air-conditioning system discharged by a licensed air-conditioning technician.
Drain the engine coolant: Place a large container under the drain plug for the radiator and remove the plug (you may need pliers), then repeat for the drain plug at the engine block.
Disconnect the car's negative battery cable.
Detach both the lower and upper radiator hoses from the radiator and the reservoir hose from the radiator filler neck. If the Corolla has automatic transmission, disconnect the cooler lines from the radiator and cap the fittings.
Remove the cooling fan by disconnecting the wiring connector at the fan motor and the coolant hose at at the top of the radiator, unbolting the fan shroud from the radiator and and lifting it out of the vehicle.
Remove the two upper mounting brackets at opposite ends of the radiator by removing their bolts with a wrench. Lift the radiator out of the car; watch out for the sharp fins and dripping fluids, and don't lose the rubber mounts.
Changing the Condenser
Disconnect the inlet and outlet fittings to the condenser by removing their flange bolts. Cap the fittings to keep moisture and contamination out of the system.
Remove the condenser mounting bolts, which are to the inside of the upper hold-down clamps for the radiator support, then angle the condenser back and lift it out of the engine compartment.
Install the new condenser with its brackets and bolts, making sure the rubber cushions properly fit onto the mounting points. Reconnect the refrigerant lines at the inlet and outlet fittings with new O-rings.
Fill the condenser with 1.5 to 2 ounces of R-134a refrigerant oil.
Reconnect the radiator and all other parts in the reverse order of removal.
Refill the cooling system, using a fresh 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water if the old coolant is dirty in any way.
Return the car to the shop to have the air-conditioning system evacuated, charged and leak-tested.
Items you will need
- Air-conditioning condenser
- R-134a refrigerant oil
- Chilton Toyota Corolla Repair Manual; Jay Storer; Haynes North America; 2005
- Photodisc Collection/Photodisc/Getty Images