Informational Guide

Car AC Compressor Repair & Replacement Cost

Replacing your car’s AC compressor is not an easy job. We uncover the costs of this task, with and without a mechanic.

by Josh M

The car AC compressor is the unit of power responsible for putting the refrigerant under high pressure before it moves to the condenser.

With proper automotive air conditioning maintenance, you keep the compressor working its best, but it can still fail. In this guide, we discuss the car AC compressor replacement cost.

How much does it cost to replace an AC compressor in a car? The cost to replace a car air conditioner compressor is usually around $1,000, depending on the factors discussed above. However, there are also different types of compressors that can affect the price.

All compressors power the air conditioning system to work with the help of a belt assembly. It compresses and transfers refrigerant through the AC system. However, different operations are used to compress the gas. Your vehicle might use a rotary piston, scroll, or variable displacement compressor.

All compressors contain two sections, both the high-pressure and low-pressure sides. On the high-pressure side, suction draws the refrigerant into the part for compression. Once the compression has occurred, the refrigerant is sent to the condenser, where it converts the heat into cooler air. This cold air gets blown into the car with the help of the low-pressure or output side of the car compressor.

Related ArticleHow Car AC Works

Rotary Compressors

The rotary compressor utilizes a roller/cylinder mechanism. As the roller rotates within the cylinder, it passes through two sections that are divided by a spring-mounted blade. Because the blade makes two areas that are sealed off, pressure builds up on both sides each time the roller moves. With the pressure building up on one side, the cooled, compressed gas is moved out through the other side.

Scroll Compressors

The scroll AC compressor contains dual spiral disks that contain different heights. The short disk sits in the bigger one. While the taller disk is stationary, the shorter one compresses the refrigerant while it rotates inside. It also creates a sealed-up area with a certain amount of pressure.

When the refrigerant gets suctioned, it will get trapped in these sealed sections. The short disk rotation causes more gas to move into the center of the scroll, thereby compressing the gas. Once the refrigerant is cooled, it exits the scroll along the outlet that’s part of the disk wall on the taller disk.

Variable Displacement Compressor

The variable displacement compressor is also called a reciprocating compressor. It compresses and transfers the refrigerant through a cylinder and piston mechanism. As the piston moves up and down in the cylinder, the pressure pulls the refrigerant in. Once the refrigerant is compressed, cooler air gets sent out of the air conditioning system.

What Affects The Cost Of Car AC Compressor Replacement?

How much does an AC compressor cost for a car? You have more than the part to consider when determining the average car AC compressor replacement cost.

For starters, you must look at the compressor type and size. Depending on what vehicle you drive, you will have a different car air conditioner compressor cost than your neighbor’s vehicle. You will also need to factor in the refrigerant required as part of the cost of replacing a car air conditioner compressor.

Related ArticleAC Car Recharge: How to Guide

Additionally, it matters whether you choose an OEM vs. aftermarket AC compressor. While the OEM air conditioning compressor will replace the factory part, it will cost more than the aftermarket option.

Signs Your Car AC Compressor Needs Replacing

Car AC Ventillator
Car AC Won’t Efficiently Cool

Over time, you will notice that the air coming from the vents starts to get warmer. If left unfixed, you will start to feel warmer in the car than you do outside in the sun. However, this problem can also be caused by a leaking air conditioning system.

Strange Noise

Because the compressor is a mechanical part, there can be sounds when the parts inside have gone bad. If parts have broken, you will only hear the sounds while the air conditioning system is on. The sounds could be whiny and robotic, with a consistent pitch.

Strange Compressor Operation

The compressor is a belt-driven accessory. It contains a clutch that must engage and disengage properly. If the clutch gets seized, the compressor operation won’t be normal. In fact, if the clutch were to break completely, the air conditioning would stop working.

Automotive AC Compressors – Repairing Vs. Replacing

In some instances, it’s possible to have the AC compressor repaired. However, the car air conditioner compressor repair cost isn’t going to be too much lower than the replacement, especially if a lot of labor is involved. Plus, the car AC compressor repair cost will go to waste if the part fails for another reason down the road. For more durability and longevity, it’s best to replace the compressor altogether.

Car Interior AC Controls

Tips for Saving Money When Replacing The AC Compressor

If the cost to repair an air conditioner compressor in a car seems high, there are some things you can do to lower the price. First, replace the compressor yourself if you have the equipment and knowledge to handle the job. A lot of the new AC compressor cost in a car is the labor, which you can avoid by attempting the repair yourself.

Furthermore, you might be able to save money on an aftermarket compressor. While it won’t be exactly the same as the OEM made by the vehicle manufacturer, it will be more cost-effective and should work just as well.

What Else Could Need Replacing in your Car?

How much does a car AC compressor cost? While we’ve discussed how much you will spend putting a new compressor in the vehicle, you must also consider what goes along with the car air conditioner compressor repair cost if other parts have failed.

You might also need to replace or repair the compressor clutch, assembly, expansion valve or receiver drier. Again, a thorough investigation will reveal what needs to be replaced.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How long do auto AC compressors last?

In most cases, the car AC compressor should last eight to 12 years. So if you are taking care of the air conditioning system, it could last the lifetime of the vehicle.

Can I drive my car with a bad AC compressor?

The bad AC compressor won’t affect anything if the air conditioning is off. If you aren’t running the air conditioning, you can drive the vehicle without any issues. However, you aren’t going to be able to operate the AC normally with a broken compressor.

How long can you drive a car with a bad AC compressor?

There’s nothing stopping you from driving with a bad AC compressor, as long as you don’t turn the system on. With the AC turned off, the compressor won’t run, and no further damage should occur.

Will a bad air compressor affect the engine?

If the air conditioning system is turned off, there should be no effect on the engine. However, a bad compressor that continues to run can cause the engine to overheat in rare circumstances, leading to permanent damage.

Conclusion

How much does a car air conditioner compressor cost? We’ve seen that the cost to fix an AC compressor in a car can vary greatly based on what type it is and what kind of vehicle you drive. If you are skilled in automotive AC systems, you might want to try the job yourself.

Last Updated on February 28, 2022

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

Top