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How Much Does It Cost to Replace Your A/C? 

Whether you’re in the middle of a heat wave or the throes of winter, you need your AC system to work as designed. If it isn’t, things could get very uncomfortable in the cabin and the moisture that collects on your car windows inside won’t clear out. You’ll quickly be looking for ways to replace you’re A/C. It’s a misnomer in that you’ll never change a complete A/C system. And while it could be an evaporator, receiver drier, condenser, fitting, or line that needs to be replaced, more often than not, it’s the A/C compressor that’s meant for replacing air conditioning.

It's one of the more pricey items to change in the AC system, and it can easily range from $800 to $1,200 between parts and labor. Find out more about what it does and problems you might experience with a bad compressor.

How an AC Compressor Works 

The compressor circulates refrigerant throughout the system, and it is responsible for cooling the air that flows into the cabin. The compressor is driven by a belt connected to the engine, and it uses a series of valves to control the flow of refrigerant. When the AC system is turned on, the compressor starts circulating refrigerant and cooled air is directed into the cabin. The compressor will continue to run as long as the AC system is turned on, and it will cycle off and on as needed to maintain a comfortable temperature. 

It works by compressing the refrigerant and then sending it to the condenser. When the refrigerant reaches the condenser, it is cooled and turned back into a liquid. From there, it flows through the expansion valve and into the evaporator, where it picks up heat from the air and turns back into a gas. Finally, it returns to the compressor to start the cycle gain. By circulating the refrigerant through this continuous loop, the AC compressor keeps the air in the cabin cool and comfortable. 

What Causes an AC Compressor to Fail? 

An AC compressor is a central part of a car’s air conditioning system, and it can fail for many reasons. One common cause of compressor failure is a leak that can occur in the seals or gaskets, allowing refrigerant to escape. This not only reduces the efficiency of the system, but it can also put extra strain on the compressor, eventually leading to failure.  

Another common cause of compressor failure is wear and tear. Over time, the moving parts in the compressor can become worn down, making it less effective at circulating the refrigerant that’s responsible for cooling the air. Eventually, this wear and tear can lead to complete failure.  

Compressor failure can also be caused by electrical problems. If the compressor isn’t getting enough power, it won’t be able to do its job properly. This can be caused by a faulty fuse, a problem with the wiring, or even a dead battery.  

Signs of Compressor Problems 

One of the most common signs of an ac compressor problem is strange noises coming from under the hood. If you hear hissing, clicking, or rattling noises, it could be a sign that the compressor is failing and needs to be replaced. Other common symptoms include:  

  • Reduced air temperature from the vents 
  • Moisture inside the windshield won’t clear 
  • Oily traces around the compressor 
  • Blown AC compressor fuse 
  • Belt squeal or shredded belt 
  • Burnt wiring at the compressor 

While some repair shops that specialize in AC solutions might be able to rebuild a bad compressor, the presence of these symptoms usually indicates it’s time to have a new one installed. 

AC Compressor Replacement Cost 

That leads to the big question: what does an AC compressor cost? A select few are under $200 for certain models, but you can expect the part to be in the range of $400 to a little over $2,000. Most often, the AC compressor cost for car models that are relatively common will be around $700 to $800.  

But that doesn’t include the labor or any additional parts needed to get the job done. As well, the refrigerant needs to be recovered and recharged to get the new compressor functioning. All said and done, expect a total repair cost, on average, in the vicinity of $900 to $1,200. 

One additional note: fixing the AC compressor can reveal that other issues need attention in the AC system. For example, an evaporator leak could also be present, but you might not discover it until the compressor is fixed. You can get the parts you need at your local AutoZone Store. If the job is too big for you, seek out one of our Preferred Shops to help you do the job.

Can I Change an AC Compressor Myself? 

It’s possible to replace an AC compressor on your own if you’re a mechanically inclined person. There are aspects of the job that must be left to a professional technician certified in AC repairs. Since the refrigerant most cars use, R134a, is a potent greenhouse gas contributor, it must be recovered from the car before the old compressor is removed. Then, when the repair is done, it needs to be recharged with precisely the right amount of gas for the system to work.  

In most situations, it’s better and easier to supply your new parts from AutoZone and have a pro do the repair for you. And if you’re searching for the right parts or advice on getting the job done, ask an AutoZone associate today. 

FAQ/People Also Ask 

How much does it cost to replace an AC in a car? 

The A/C compressor is usually several hundred dollars itself, plus any additional parts and the labor to replace it. Expect a repair close to $1,000 or more. 

Is AC expensive to fix in car?

A/C can be costly, but it’s an important system for comfort as well as safety since it also keeps moisture off the interior glass. 

How often should car AC be replaced? 

There’s no set interval to replace car AC parts. The best idea is to get a performance test done annually to check how well it’s functioning. 

Why is my AC not blowing cold air in my car? 

Warm vent temperatures can be caused by faulty parts like the AC compressor, evaporator, condenser, or leaking lines or seals. It could also simply be low on refrigerant charge. 

How do I know if my AC compressor is bad? 

A failing or broken AC compressor will often make rumbling or whirring noises when the engine is running, and you won’t hear it cycling on and off. 

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on AutoZone.com and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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