Your car's AC should be serviced at least once a year to keep the cooling at maximum efficiency. Typically, it is recommended to service it twice yearly - in the fall before winter arrives, and then in the spring before summer's hot temperatures. However, if you have an emergency issue like leaking refrigeration, low cooling, odor, faulty cooling fan, failed compressor, or clogged condenser, it is wise to schedule a quick maintenance with a car AC repair shop near you. Note, due to the use of refrigerants in AC maintenance, its repair is strictly regulated by the Clean Air Act. Hence, you should consider only the services of a certified auto AC service specialist to mitigate the various risks associated with handling refrigerants. When choosing a car AC repair shop nearby, endeavor to ask the following questions to ensure you are hiring the right technician:
Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?
Per Section 609 of the Clean Air Act, technicians that are involved in the servicing or repair of car air conditioning systems are mandatorily required to undergo training and certification by an EPA-approved organization, such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and the Mobile Air Climate Systems Association. The Clean Air Act also requires car AC repair shops to certify to the Environmental Protection Agency that they use approved refrigerant recovery equipment and that the technicians that handle these types of equipment have also been duly trained and certified. Therefore, when you require the services of a car AC repair technician or shop near you, you should always request proof of certification from these shops and technicians. It is a good idea to hire a car AC repair technician who is also an active member of a reputable car repair and maintenance association. These associations typically have standards, guidelines, and codes of conduct that require their members to always behave professionally when performing their duties and this goes a long way in assuring you that your car's air conditioning system will be repaired in the best way possible.
Note that in addition to mandatory certification, car AC repair technicians and shops near you may also need to obtain licensing or registration with relevant state and local government authorities before they can operate in certain jurisdictions. As such, it is advisable to contact your local consumer protection agency to find out the specific licensing, registration, and certification requirements for car AC repair technicians and shops within your vicinity and make sure that anyone you intend to hire meets these requirements.
How Much Does Car AC Repair Cost?
Car AC repairs in the United States typically cost an average of $500 - $1,000. The costs of these repairs are primarily influenced by factors like the part or component of the car's air conditioning system that requires fixing, the cost of replacing this component, and the amount of labor needed to perform the repair job. Listed below are cost estimates for common car AC repair jobs:
- Car AC compressor clutch repair/replacement - $200 - $750
- Car AC compressor repair/replacement - $400 - $1,200
- Car AC condenser replacement - $400 - $500
- Car AC hose replacement - $200 - $450
- Car AC inspection and diagnostics - $100 - $300
- Car AC leakage checks and repair - $200 - $600
- Car AC recharge - $50 - $150
- Car AC refrigerant conversion - $100 - $700
- Installing a new car air conditioning system - $1,500 - $4,000
- Labor costs - $100 - $150 per hour
One way that you can reduce the amount of money that you may have to spend on car AC repair is by regularly maintaining your car's air conditioning system and ensuring that you do not put undue pressure on it. Some maintenance tips that can increase the productivity of your car's AC include:
- Turn off your car AC before you turn off your engine
- Periodically hose down your AC's condenser to remove debris and allow the free flow of air
- Lower your car windows for a few seconds on hot days before you turn on your car AC. This reduces the load on the air conditioning system's evaporator by giving the hot air a chance to evacuate
- Run your car's AC at least once a month for 10 minutes. This ensures that the compressor remains lubricated and it also eliminates any moisture that may have formed or collected in the air conditioning system
In addition, you should always contact a certified car AC repair technician or shop near you immediately you notice any problems with your car's air conditioning system. Do not ignore or attempt to fix the problem yourself as this may worsen it and end up costing you more money. You can also save costs when you have to retain the services of a car AC repair technician or shop by doing the following:
- Get quotes from two or three certified car AC repair technicians and shops near you
- Avoid mark-ups by finding out the parts of your car's air conditioning system that need replacement and buying these parts by yourself.
What Are Common Car AC Repair Expenses?
Excluding the costs of fixing the damages to your car's air conditioning system, you do not typically have to pay any additional costs when carrying out car AC repairs. Nevertheless, if you have to carry out any additional interior or exterior repairs to your car, then it is a good idea to find out if your car AC repair shop also offers these services. The cost of car interior and exterior repair depends on the type of work that has to be done and can range from as low as $50 for fixing door and fender dings to as high as $1,000 for reupholstering your car seats. If your car AC repair shop also offers the car interior or exterior repair service that you need, then you should also find out if you will be offered a discount for carrying out multiple repair jobs.
Who Will Do the Work?
Federal law stipulates that car AC repair technicians must undergo EPA-approved training and certification before handling refrigerants. As such, you should always find out who will be responsible for handling your car's AC repair and make sure that this technician meets all relevant regulatory requirements, especially if you drop your car off at a professional repair shop near you. This is because even though car AC repairs can usually be handled by a single technician, professional car AC repair shops usually have several technicians or apprentices that are still undergoing on-the-job training and may have not been properly certified yet. Therefore, finding out who will be directly responsible for your repair job not only ensures that your car's air conditioning system is repaired by a certified professional, it also protects you against any legal and financial liabilities that may arise if a work-related accident occurs during your car AC repair job.
What Qualifications Should a Car AC Repair Technician Have?
Data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that there are currently 620,110 employed automotive service technicians and mechanics in the country. Included in this figure are technicians that specialize in car AC repair. Car AC repair technicians are typically required to have a high school certificate and also complete relevant programs and courses offered by vocational schools and other post-secondary education institutions. These car AC repair technicians are also statutorily required to undergo training and certification from an EPA-approved organization before handling or working with any refrigerants. In addition to this training and certification, some car AC repair shops may also provide in-house training and apprenticeship opportunities for their technicians. Finally, many professional and reputable car AC repair technicians belong to trade organizations like the Mobile Air Climate Systems Association, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, and the Automotive Repair and Maintenance Association. Membership in these organizations usually lends credibility to the technician's level of expertise and competence.
Will You Provide References?
Requesting a list of references is a good way to determine whether a car AC repair technician or shop near you is qualified enough to fix your car's air conditioning system. Always ask for no less than three verifiable references and make sure that you contact these references to get their first-hand opinions on the car AC repair technician or shop. You should also consider getting independent and unbiased customer opinions and reviews on car AC repair technicians and shops near you from third-party review websites like Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp. Never hire any car AC repair technician or shop that cannot either provide you with up to three references or has a lot of negative reviews from these references and online.
Note that even when you get referrals on a car AC repair technician or shop near you from trusted friends, family, or online via referral web pages provided by trade associations like the Mobile Air Climate Systems Association and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, you should still request references from these technicians or shops.
Quick Facts about Car AC Repair Technicians
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
You can test your car's AC by checking whether your compressor is engaging when you turn your AC on. You can also find out whether your car is low on refrigerant by sticking an AC vent thermometer in your AC vent, turning the AC on full blast, and letting it run for about four to five minutes. If the temperature reading on the thermometer is around 40 50 degrees, then your car is probably low on refrigerant. However, if your car AC's compressor is not engaging, then there might be a more serious problem. Either way, it is always in your best interest to visit a car AC repair shop near you if you suspect that there might be an issue with your car's air conditioning system rather than attempting to fix this problem by yourself.
The answer to this question depends on factors like the overall condition of your car, how long you plan to keep on using it, and the amount of money available to you. If your car is still relatively new, then you should probably fix any issues with its air conditioning system as soon as possible. This not only lets you enjoy the full benefits of the car, but also prevents minor issues from becoming more serious, and therefore, costlier to fix. On the other hand, if your car is old and you do not intend to use it for much longer, then you might be better off saving your funds to get a new car. However, note that the resale value of this car will be less because of its lack of a working air conditioning system.
The main components of an auto AC system are:
- Receiver/Dryer or Accumulator
- Thermal Expansion Valve or Orifice Tube
Your car's air conditioning system can stop working for any of the following reasons:
- There is a refrigerant leak
- Your AC needs a recharging
- Your condenser is blocked or broken
- Your cooling fans are broken
- There is a problem with your AC's compressor
- Your AC system has an electrical problem
- Your AC system's blend air door is stuck
Some common signs that your car's air conditioning system requires fixing include:
- The airflow from your AC vents is weak
- Your AC no longer blows cool air
- Your AC blows cool air and then gets warm after a while
- Your AC makes unusual noises
- You have a leaking dashboard
- There is a nasty odor coming from your AC vents
- There is a burning odor whenever you turn on your AC
- Your compressor clutch is not moving
If you notice any of these signs, you should contact a reputable car repair shop near you as soon as possible.
If your car's AC is no longer blowing cold air, then this means that there is a problem with your air conditioning system. This problem might be a relatively simple one like being low on refrigerant and requiring an AC recharge or something more serious like having a damaged condenser or compressor.
No, you cannot. Car air conditioning systems are complicated systems and their maintenance and repair is strictly regulated at both federal and state level. This is because they contain refrigerants, which are potentially hazardous chemicals that also have adverse effects on the environment. As such, only properly trained and certified professionals should attempt to service your car's AC.
You should get your car's AC inspected by a certified car AC repair technician at least once a year.
There is no specified timeframe for recharging your car's AC, and how often you will require a car AC recharge depends on factors like the brand and make of your car, your location, and how you use the car. However, anytime you discover that your AC is no longer cooling as much as it used to, then it is a good idea to get a car AC repair technician to inspect your AC system and determine whether you need an AC recharge or some other type of car AC repair.
Car AC repairs are expensive mostly because of the cost of car air conditioning system parts and the specialized type of labor associated with these repairs. Car AC repair is complex work that is also strictly regulated by several federal and state laws. The technicians in this field are also required to obtain mandatory certifications, which ultimately increases the cost of their labor and the overall cost of car AC repairs. However, you can cut down on these costs by getting and comparing quotes from multiple car AC repair shops and buying the parts of your car AC system that need fixing by yourself where possible.