Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: AC Repair

asked by on

My AC is blowing warm. I was told the Comperssor needs to be changed and the price would be $1600 at PepBoys. I have looked online and see that it says would be half of that.

My car has 112000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Thank you for your question and I am sorry ...

Thank you for your question and I am sorry to hear of this problem in particular, as we all know that driving a car without A/C in the summer is about equivalent to what coal trimmers endured feeding coal into hot boilers in ships back in the 19th century. In other words, it's really uncomfortable. On a positive note, though, if I replaced your compressor for $1,600 (please call me right away) I could take the next month off from work.

My first concern would be "the" diagnosis. To replace a compressor you have to have evidence of either a leak (and it has to be a leak above a certain threshold; for example, I have an infrared refrigerant leak detector that will detect a leak as little as .1 ounce (one-tenth of an ounce) of refrigerant spread out over an entire year, in other words a leak so small that it would take ten years to lose one ounce) or a mechanical fault such as a clutch failure, no compression or weak compression and so forth. It would be good if the Mechanic could tell you exactly what is wrong with the compressor so you can feel assured that the repair is really the right one. Related to this, if there is a leak in the compressor, there may be leaks elsewhere.

All of those leaks (dried out o-rings in system refrigerant piping are not unusual) have to be identified before the system is opened because if the compressor were replaced, and the system is evacuated and re-charged, and then other leaks are belatedly found, you get to do the job all over again. So, in addition to clarifying the diagnosis on the compressor, it is critical to understand the condition of the rest of the system. You need the complete picture (all the facts) before undertaking a big repair like this.

As far as the cost, asking people to do work for you is never "just" about the cost. A/C work requires close to clean room conditions (at critical points, not entirely of course). All moisture has to be thoroughly removed from the system prior to recharging. You have to use a new drier/accumulator. As well as the right amount of the right viscosityoil has to be added back to the system during re-charging. I would encourage you to get a second opinion because you need not just economically rational pricing but you need someone who has told you, for instance, "we checked everywhere for is limited to the (often) compressor shaft seal". If that is not the "diagnosis" you got you should get a second opinion.

But the bottom line on cost is this: A typical compressor at retail costs in the neighborhood of $200 to $400, not factoring in discounts. You need a drier (that is not optional) which is roughly a $25 to $50 part. Material costs replacing a compressor are negligible (two cans of refrigerant are less than $10). Labor is your biggest cost. Labor rates vary but if we subtract the parts cost from your quote of $1,600, that implies about 15 to 20 hours of labor are required for this compressor replacement. That would be exceptional. The actual time required is probably more in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 hours. Consequently, I would encourage you to get a second professional opinion from a certified technician from YourMechanic who can fully diagnose the inoperable air conditioning issue.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Air conditioner compressor does not turn on

Hi. If the air conditioner compressor does not turn on, this may perhaps be indicative of a problem with the fuse or relay, or perhaps something more serious, such as a failed compressor. I would recommend having the vehicle's air...

Q: car stuttered and died, engine light came on, checked fuses and fuel pump could the filter cause problem?

Hey there, thanks for writing in about your 2003 Ford Focus. It is possible that a faulty fuel pump or fuel filter would cause this. Other items can also cause the concern you have, such as a vacuum leak or...

Q: Car does not move in forward gear, previously had a burning smell in car

From what you are explaining and from my experience with this vehicle it does sound like a transmission failure. It is common for the forward clutch back to fail all of a sudden, or for the forward clutch case to...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
How to Renew Your Car Registration in Oklahoma(DELETED)
Having your car registered with the Oklahoma Tax Commission is an important part of driving legally in this state. You will need to do this within 30 days of moving to Oklahoma...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...