Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Car A/C Evaporator

Car air conditioner evaporator coil close up

When your vehicle’s A/C malfunctions, there are a number of factors that cause it, one of which is a faulty evaporator. Below are some signs that you’ll want to replace the car A/C evaporator.

How Does the Evaporator Function?

The purpose of every A/C system is to extract heat from the surrounding air. To do this the unit uses an evaporator to utilize cold refrigerant while it’s in a liquid state. When warm air traverses the coils of the evaporator, the heat will be collected which then makes the air cool. This frigid air will then be transmitted into the cabin where it cools down the passengers.

Evaporators depend on two key components, which are the coils and core. Most problems arise from leaks that occur in one of them. Because evaporators need continual pressure so they can remove heat effectively, they are susceptible to leaks which can lead to a malfunction. Drivers will notice that their air conditioning is not performing as well as it did in the past, and while it may be possible to repair the evaporator, many experts recommend simply replacing it completely.

You Detect an Unusual Odor after Turning on Your A/C

This unusual odor is an indication of evaporator leakage, where a small level of refrigerant will be emitted from the seal, coil or core. The aroma tends to be sweet, which can intensify whenever the air conditioner is turned on for an extended period of time.

You Experience Varying A/C Temperatures

Fluctuating A/C temperatures may also be a sign of evaporator leakage or it could mean that the evaporator itself has been damaged.

The Compressor Won’t Function

The A/C compressor is considered the heart of an air conditioning system since it is tasked with circulating refrigerant via the evaporator. However, in order to do this, it must maintain a pressure that is predetermined for its operation, and if a leak is present, the pressure inside the system will be reduced which will stop the compressor from activating.

What Causes Evaporator Leaks?

While not always the culprit, evaporator leakage is a common problem in air conditioning systems, and it is, therefore, important to know what causes it. Such leaks stem from factors like:

  • Corrosion: If corrosion occurs within the core of the evaporator, this can cause the seals to begin leaking. Corrosion results when the debris is able to enter its air intake, which can clog and damage the air filters.
  • The outer seal is damaged: The majority of leaks come from an outer seal that is damaged within the evaporator’s core.
  • The connection from the core to the coil is compromised: It is possible that your A/C evaporator problem comes from a compromised connection between the core and coil. If this is the case, you’ll experience leakage which will probably require the whole evaporator to be replaced.

While some technicians will attempt to use sealant to repair leaks, this should always be seen as a solution that is temporary, and in fact, can create more problems over the long term.