How Much Does It Cost To Fix AC In A Car?

Published: April 1, 2022
Last updated: March 29, 2023

When it's hot in the summer or chilly in the winter, your air conditioner and heater are your best friends. As with every piece of technology, your air conditioner can malfunction at the most inconvenient time. There are a variety of reasons why your air conditioner may malfunction. Generally, leaks in the system are to blame for AC not working.

This guide will teach you how to fix the AC in your car and how you can determine what the problem is. Usually, the problem is caused by one of the following:

  • Leaks in the AC system
  • Faulty AC compressor
  • Clogged filter
  • Other faulty components

How Does An AC Work?

Before we delve into why an AC may not work, you should understand how your cabin cools to find the root cause of the issue. The refrigerant in an air conditioning system changes from a gaseous state to a liquid state. This is achieved with a few components.

AC compressors are connected to engine crankshafts by belts during their operation. Several pistons inside the compressor compress the air, causing it to become hot and pressurized. The hot, pressurized gas then passes into the condenser, where it cools and changes into a liquid.

Before the fluid reaches the thermal expansion valve, the liquid goes through the dryer to ensure no gases are present. An expansion valve cools the liquid to become a gas again, which goes through an evaporator. Cool air is introduced into the cabin by blowing air from outside the vehicle through the cold evaporator.

Cost Of Fixing A Faulty AC

An AC might not function properly for many reasons, as mentioned previously. One of the possible reasons would be an issue with one of the components or a leak in one of the many hoses. Professional car AC repair shops are the best place to fix a faulty air conditioner. Per the law, no refrigerant can be released into the atmosphere.

A special recovery machine is required to comply with that law. When filling the AC system, you must do so when the system is vacuumed. Air and moisture can cause problems. The cost will vary according to the fault.

Leaks In The AC Systems

Since the hoses and other components operate under a lot of pressure, everything must be tightly sealed. It is normal for a small amount of refrigerant to leak each year (less than an ounce), but a greater leak may cause problems. A leak in the AC system is caused not only by pressure and heat but also by the weakening of the material over time.

Hot air is blown instead of cool air when the system is leaking. This can also occur if there is a low refrigerant level in the AC. By injecting UV dye into the system, it is possible to detect leaks of refrigerants. After the dye has been injected, the outside of the system is checked to see if there is an escape. Leaks occur in gaseous form, so this is essential.

Cost Of Fixing An AC Leak

The component leaking in the system must be replaced if it turns out that it is leaking in one place. It is not uncommon for any AC component to leak. Over time, a low amount of refrigerant will cause a compressor to break and will need to be replaced.

In the case of a newer car, the O-rings may leak, in which case they need to be replaced. O-rings are a relatively small and cheap component, but the labor cost is high because it is necessary to depressurize and evacuate the entire system.

The average cost of an O-ring pack is about $10, while the cost of a compressor could be several hundred dollars. Depending on what needs to be repaired, labor costs could vary. Expect to pay between $150 and $500 for labor. This means the total cost could range from $160 to $1000 or more depending on what needs to be replaced.

Faulty AC Compressor

The compressor likely is to blame if you are not receiving cool air from the air conditioner when you turn it on. In addition to the above symptoms, there are also unusual noises or fluid leaks. If the compressor is not working properly, it needs to be replaced, whatever the symptom may be.

Cost Of Fixing An AC Compressor

A system needs to be handled properly for car AC repair, which means special tools and a high labor cost will be involved in the repair process. Regardless of the type of vehicle repair, the labor cost and the parts will vary depending on the model. A new AC compressor costs between $100 and $200, while labor costs can range from $300 to $800, depending on the vehicle.

Clogged Filter

Symptoms of a clogged cabin filter include insufficient airflow into the cabin, which is the most obvious. As a result of the ineffective filter, there could also be an increase in dust, pollen, and pollutants in the cabin.

Sometimes the condenser, which is located directly behind the car's grill, will be clogged as well as the filter. The airflow into the condenser can be blocked by leaves, bugs, and other things on the road, which reduces the efficiency of the AC.

Cost Of Fixing A Clogged Filter

A few minutes of work and little to no expertise are all it takes to fix this problem. It costs between $10 and $20 for a new cabin filter. It is very simple and quick to replace the filter. Buying a cabin filter from a dealership or a shop comes with a high risk of overcharging you.

The best way to change the cabin filter is to do it yourself. The professional can also change the filter while your car is serviced for another problem. Therefore, they may be willing to do it for free under these circumstances. You can clean the condenser by removing dirt, leaves, or anything else that may obstruct it.

Other Faulty Components

There is a risk of other AC components failing, which needs to be addressed appropriately. There could be problems with all components, including the compressor, evaporator, condenser, and hoses.

In such cases, professional tools are required to prevent contamination of the system. In addition to the labor cost, a car AC repair may be high according to which component must be replaced. Adding labor and parts could easily reach over $1000.


Your car's air conditioner keeps the cabin cool and comfortable. High pressures and temperatures change the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid. Several of the AC's components will deteriorate over time, causing problems. Whenever the air conditioner does not function properly, a leak is likely.

Sometimes it takes a few hours to determine who is responsible. While some refrigerants include dye from the factory to detect leaks, a dye may be injected to detect a potential leak. An engine compartment may be lighted with a UV light to detect a leak caused by a UV dye.

Depending on the issue, car AC repair costs vary significantly. A free fix can range from $50 to more than $1,000. There is no definitive answer to how much car AC repairs might cost.

Replace the cabin filter as a DIY project while fixing leaks, changing the compressor, and other tasks which require emptying the system as a professional project.

Are you interested in learning more about cars and their maintenance? Head over to the KeepDriving website and check out our blog post on what is the best car repair insurance.

Founder, Editor-in-Chief Carmelo Pickel is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Keep Driving, with almost 20 years of experience working in the industry. Before founding Keep Driving, Carmelo held leadership roles for over a decade on top automotive dealership corporations across North America, handling various leadership roles in Sales, Marketing, and Incentives.
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