How To Calculate Your A/C Repair Cost

Mechanic holds a set of high-pressure pipes for filling the car's air conditioning system

Many drivers are reluctant to repair or replace their auto A/C systems due to the high costs involved. However, depending on the problem, failing to do so can lead to a cascade of other issues which can damage other parts of the vehicle, so below are some tips for calculating your A/C repair cost.

Determine The Longevity of Individual Components

To avoid any unpleasant surprises, you’ll first need to figure out the average length of time various A/C components last. This way you’ll be able to estimate when the parts are likely to break down and how much it will cost to replace them. While no one knows the specific length of time that air conditioning components will continue working, the average time ranges from eight to ten years for the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and other parts.

Another thing that can help is getting annual inspections from a trusted mechanic. Untrustworthy mechanics will take advantage of your lack of knowledge and may recommend costly repairs that aren’t needed, but a good mechanic will check out your system, the current status of the components, and how long they will likely last before requiring replacement. An inspection can usually be done for about $100 per year, which is affordable for most people.

Some A/C Components Are More Expensive to Repair Than Others

The most costly air conditioning part to replace is the compressor. It acts as the intermediary between the condenser and evaporator, so if the compressor has a problem it threatens the entire system. Other things which influence repair or replacement cost include:

  • The size of the compressor: Larger compressors are generally more expensive to repair.
  • Compressor type: Air conditioning systems come with single and dual-stage compressors. Single-stage models tend to be more affordable than dual staged.
  • Brand: Compressors come in different brands and some cost more than others.
  • Cost of Installation: Unless you plan to install the compressor yourself, you’ll need to hire a mechanic, who will charge you for their time.

Watch For Early Warning Signs of Pending A/C Problems

Many air conditioning issues will present early warning signs to drivers that are paying attention. Examples of this include only blowing out warm air, unusual smells being emitted from the A/C vent, and odd noises are symptoms of an underlying issue. Another common sign is the leakage of refrigerant which can be seen beneath the vehicle or your mechanic noticed damaged wiring while performing an inspection.

Many drivers are content to ignore these symptoms, often because they don’t want to spend money on them. While this is certainly understandable, problems like this never get better on their own, and in fact, will get worse and more costly. By addressing the issue early on, you’ll actually minimize the amount you’ll have to pay.

Doing the Repairs Yourself Versus Hiring A Mechanic

Those that have the knowledge, tools, and time can save lots of money by doing the repair themselves, but sometimes in life, time is more important than money, and it is better to hire a pro if you’re aren’t sure how to repair or replace the A/C on your own.