What Does an Air Conditioning Condenser Do?

When it comes to auto air conditioning parts, it's important to know exactly what it is your looking for. That's why this week, we're going to take a look inside your air conditioning systom at the condenser - why do you need it? What exactly is it's function?

What is a condenser?

More importantly, what is a car air conditioning condenser? Well, you may have seen the unit that sits right at the front of the car in front of the water radiator - it's sometimes known as the air con radiator. It is often the first thing you see if you look through the front grill of your car, and sometimes just behind a fan. It’s usually made of aluminium and therefore quite fragile and will often get holes in it from stones hitting it for example.

So - what does it do?

The condensers job, in a nut shell, is to radiate heat in order to keep the aircon system cool. This is why it's located at the front of the car; to make use of the cool air that will flow past it or, when the vehicle is stationary, to make use of the fan.

The condenser radiates any heat that has built up from using the cars’ A/C system. The air conditioning refrigerant, which is usually known as R134a or, more recently, the new refrigerant R1234yf (a refrigerant which has sparked controversial safety debates) enters the condenser as a high pressure gas and as it's cooled, it turns back into a liquid.

We have previously posted an article dedicated to showing exactly how a car air conditioning system works which you can read about here.

So what can go wrong with the condenser?

It's not uncommon that at some point your car air con condenser will leak. A qualified, good quality air con technician would usually add a U/V dye to the system so that when viewed under fluorescent light, the dye glows bright yellow showing you exactly where the condenser's leak is located.

In the case of a leak, your condenser will need replacing. We have thousands for sale in our online shop, for all makes and models of car with 2 years warranty.

A leak is usually caused from stones hitting the condenser at speed and it only takes a small hole to cause the refrigerant to leak out. Sometimes the seal that connects the condenser to the pipework can also leak and, depending on the material your condenser is made off, they can just rot - especially in older cars where leaves and other debris build up at the bottom of the condenser and cause water to erode the system. You will find that, more often than not many are now zinc coated, as are the ones we sell, to help preserve the life of the unit.

We would always advise replacing rather than trying to repair a leaking condenser. If you’re not sure or have any questions about your condenser then please contact our service engineers at coolcaraircon.co.uk who, as qualified car air conditioning technicians, are always able to help solve any of your car air con problems.