4 Signs of a Failing AC Evaporator

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One of the most frustrating situations any car owner can experience is a broken AC, especially during those hot summer days. The modern AC system is comprised of multiple independent components that must work together seamlessly in order to convert warm air to cool. Of these parts, the AC evaporator is crucial to an automotive air conditioner. While this component can hold up against constant use for several years, problems can and often will pop up without warning.

What is the AC Evaporator?

An air conditioning system is designed to remove heat from the air. The job of the evaporator is to harness the cold refrigerant in its liquid state. As warm air passes along the evaporator coils, it collects the heat from the air and makes it cool. The cold air is then circulated through time cabin.

Two specific components that make up the evaporator: the core and the coils. When issues occur, in most cases it’s due to leaks created in between these two parts. Since the AC evaporator requires constant pressure to effectively remove heat, a leak is typically the leading cause of a malfunction. As such, when a major AC Evaporator leak is detected, replacement is the best course of action.

4 Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Air Conditioning Evaporator

Like most AC issues, the first indicator of a damaged AC evaporator is poor performance. Since the AC evaporator is the major part that removes heat from the air, failure is rather simple to determine. However, there are 4 other warning signs of a damaged AC evaporator:

  • 1. The cool air is weak or no cold air is blowing at all. When the AC Evaporator coil or core is leaking, it will impact the effectiveness of the air conditioning system. Generally speaking, the greater the leak, the cooling capacity is reduced.

  • 2. You notice a strange odor when using your AC system. If your AC evaporator is leaking, a small amount of refrigerant (not coolant) will seep from the coil, core, or seals. This will produce a sweet aroma, which might get more intense when the AC is turned on.

  • 3. The AC compressor will not activate. The compressor is intended to circulate refrigerant through the evaporator. It depends on maintaining a predetermined pressure to operate. As such, if there is a leak, there is reduced pressure within the system and the compressor will not activate.

  • 4. The AC temperature will vary. If the AC evaporator has a small leak, it can continue to cool air. However, if the temperature is inconsistent, it’s a possible indicator of a damaged AC evaporator.

What are the Main Causes of an AC Evaporator Leak?

There are a few sources of an AC evaporator leak. Some of them easy to detect, and others requiring some detailed diagnosis:

  • 1. Damaged Outer Seal.Most leaks are due to a damaged outer seal on the evaporator core.

  • 2. Corrosion. It’s also quite common for corrosion inside the evaporator core to cause seals to leak. Corrosion occurs when debris finds a way into the air intake such as dirt caused by damaged or clogged air filters.

  • 3. The Connection between Coil and Core.Another leak source is the connection between the ac evaporator coil and the core. If a leak is detected, replacement of the entire AC evaporator is the correct course of action.

Some shade-tree mechanics attempt using a sealant to fix a leak, but this is always a temporary solution, and typically creates additional problems with the AC system — so we don’t recommend this type of quick-fix.


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John

26 years of experience
562 reviews
John
26 years of experience
Infiniti QX70 - AC is not working - Manvel, Texas
John is a lovely human being. He was able to fix my Xfinity QX70 Air-conditioning in such a timely fashion. He was profession, kind, and focused. It was convenient coming to my home garage. He wore mask and gloves and wiped down my car after as I am autoimmune compromised during Covid. And the price was so cheap. I will definitely use him again!!!! Thank you so much!
Mazda CX-7 - AC is not working - Houston, Texas
Friendly service. John was very knowledgeable and diagnosed the problem with my car without adding lots of extras to pad the bill. Straightforward and showed me where the problem was. Previously, I was told by another mechanic the repair would be more than double what John estimated. Extremely happy with the service I received and will be using them for any future car issues.

Joe

42 years of experience
737 reviews
Joe
42 years of experience
Honda Civic - AC is not working - Oldsmar, Florida
Joe was personable and efficient. He took the time to explain what was needed and fixed my ac problem.
BMW 740i - AC is not working - Saint Petersburg, Florida
Great guy. Knows his stuff and easy to work with. Very friendly and helpful. Knows BMW and that’s important to me. Highly recommend.

Benji

21 years of experience
116 reviews
Benji
21 years of experience
Nissan Pathfinder - AC is not working - Mesa, Arizona
Benji was very polite and thorough. I would definitely recommend him. He was very knowledgeable. He is my new mechanic! I think he was great, great and great.
Jeep Grand Cherokee - AC is not working - Paradise Valley, Arizona
Benji was beyond professional and handled our issue with speed. Super efficient and went above and beyond!

Honorio

18 years of experience
808 reviews
Honorio
18 years of experience
Nissan Altima - AC is not working - San Jose, California
Honorio was such an amazing mechanic. He is super smart and knowledgeable about what he’s doing. You don’t have to second guess him twice. Th way he puts so much effort into his work you would think he’s fixing his own car. He really cares and wants to do the best possible job. He is an amazing mechanic and will definitely be booking him from now on.
Ford Mustang - AC is not working - Los Altos, California
Honorio, was a Star, will be looking to book him for follow up work after my AC diagnoses, refill and ID of the main problem. More than 5 stars if that were possible

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