The automotive air conditioning system requires regular maintenance to continue working as it should. Sometimes, this means cleaning the evaporator. In this guide, we will cover how to clean the car AC evaporator without removing it.

We also examine some of the top clogged car AC evaporator symptoms.

Why would you want to perform a car AC evaporator coil cleaning without removing it? Taking the evaporator out can be a cumbersome job that takes a lot of time. It’s possible to get it working better without going through all of those steps.

Before you learn how to clean an evaporator coil in a car, you want to gather all of your materials. Here are some items to have on hand.

  • Screwdriver
  • Basic set of hand tools
  • Protective gloves
  • Goggles
  • Evaporator cleaner of your choice (aerosol and gallon jugs are available)
  • Soft rag or cloth
  • Spray bottle containing clean water (garden hose works well too)
  • Microfiber towel
  • Portable electric fan

Once you have the materials needed, it’s time to get started. If you aren’t sure how to perform these steps, you should seek out a professional mechanic instead.

  1. Find the evaporator core within the automotive air conditioning system.
  2. Put on your protective gear and find a passageway to the car’s evaporator.
  3. Inspect the evaporator to determine if a cleaning is necessary.
  4. Apply your evaporator cleaner. Allow it to sit for at least thirty minutes.
  5. Rinse off the evaporator with water and wipe it down with your rag.
  6. Ensure all of the moisture is removed with your fan. The evaporator core needs to be dry.
  7. Put any pieces back on to restore the air conditioning system to the original setup.

What Exactly Is An Air Conditioner Evaporator In Cars?

The AC evaporator is a small radiator that provides the cold air to the air conditioning system. It’s the place where freezing liquid refrigerant takes on the heat that is being blown through so it can turn into a gas.

From here, it travels to the condenser, where the heat is then shed. This continuous process is what makes the air conditioning cold in the cabin.

Where is the car’s AC evaporator located? It looks like a small radiator, and it is found inside the dashboard.

Clogged Car AC Evaporator Symptoms

  • Air Conditioner Loses Cooling Capacity
    If the AC evaporator coil is clogged or leaks, the air conditioning cooling will be affected. The greater the clog is, the more capacity will be reduced, which is why evaporator maintenance is so important.
  • Air Conditioner Runs Longer
    Whenever the air conditioning system isn’t running at its best, it can cause efficiency to drop. With a dirty or clogged evaporator, the system is going to run longer than expected in an effort to cool the air properly.
  • Coil Develops Frost During Operation
    With proper airflow, the coils remain frost-free while the AC system is being used. However, the poor airflow can cause the coils to freeze since they cannot be kept warm.

Why Clean Your Car’s AC Evaporator?

You want cold air, especially when you are traveling on a hot day. When the evaporator gets clogged, it becomes more difficult to get this cold air out of the automotive air conditioning system. With regular evaporator cleaning, you can help reduce the amount of grime, grease, dirt, and dust that is found in the system, thereby helping it run more efficiently.

How Often Should You Clean Your Car AC Evaporator?

In general, you shouldn’t need to clean the AC evaporator often. This isn’t a regular maintenance task that you would perform unless you are driving in dusty conditions or you push the vehicle to extremes.

Otherwise, you would only clean the AC evaporator if you start to notice symptoms of reduced airflow or inefficiency.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Can I use vinegar to clean the car AC coils?

You can mix household vinegar and water in a spray bottle to clean the AC coils. Use equal parts of water and vinegar and shake it well to mix it.

How long does a car’s AC evaporator typically last?

If kept clean, the car AC evaporator typically lasts 10 to 15 years. If you are regularly performing air conditioning maintenance, it might even last for the lifetime of the car.

How much does this cost for a mechanic to clean it?

To have a complete air conditioning service that also cleans the evaporator, you will likely spend between $100 and $300. The cost will depend on what else is included with the service.

When should you replace the car’s evaporator?

Once the car AC evaporator starts to leak, you will need to replace it. The evaporator acts as a heat exchanger and it’s made from thin metal, so there are plenty of places for a leak to occur.


Now that you know how to clean a car AC evaporator, you are ready to take charge of your automotive air conditioning system. With a little cleaning of your car AC, when the system starts running poorly, you can extend the life of the valuable evaporator.

Josh Mitchell


Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

My Favorite Home Appliance?

Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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