There are certain days throughout the year when air conditioning is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. Temperatures reach the 90s and creep up into the 100s and walking out to the car feels like a water-deprived journey through the Mohave. Not to mention the internal temperature of your vehicle if it has been sitting in the sun for an extended period of time. If the A/C compressor goes out in your vehicle, those days can go from bothersome to downright unbearable. That’s why it’s important to keep up on the maintenance of your air conditioning system. Freon is not only the chemical that provides the nice cool air, it also contains a lubricant that travels through your A/C system and keeps things functioning properly. If it runs low, there is a much higher risk of something failing, especially the compressor. So how much does it cost to replace an A/C compressor? Let’s see.

First Off, Make Sure It’s Only the Compressor

Just like an a/c system in your home, the a/c system of your vehicle has several components which can affect its operation. If your a/c fails, it’s not always because the compressor has failed or because it’s low on Freon. Accumulator, condenser, tubing, expansion valves, these are all parts of you’re a/c system which can fail. Not only can they fail by themselves, but since your a/c system is a sealed system, their failure can cause other parts to fail as well. So remember, if you’re replacing the a/c compressor, you may be replacing a few other items as well.

Why Would They All Fail?

Each part of the sealed system that is your air conditioning performs a function which the others rely on. Since there is nowhere for contaminants to be disposed of in a sealed system, when lubricating oils and other chemicals within the system break down they become contaminants to the system. It’s the accumulator/receiver drier’s job to trap all the moisture, particles, and debris that accumulate. If it fails, these particles travel through the system and cause other things to fail. Some of the passages in you’re a/c system are as small as .050”. It takes less than 1/10 of a teaspoon of contaminant to plug those holes and cause a system failure.

What if I’m Lucky and It’s Only the Compressor?

If it is, congrats. There are several cases when this actually happens. The clutch on the compressor fails, the bearing goes bad, o-rings begin to leak, any of these can happen without other system failures. When they do you can get out with replacing the compressor and flushing the system. If this is the case, expect to be in the $500-$1,200 range, simply because compressor prices vary from $250 all the way to $1,000. Remember, if you’re in need of a new serpentine belt, this is the time to replace that as well. It will already be off so there will be no additional labor, just the price of the belt.

What if I’m Not Lucky?

Welcome to the club of automobile owners; most of us aren’t lucky at all when it comes to repairs. If you happen to fall into this category, you could be looking at nearly $2,000 in total repair if it comes to replacing the compressor, the accumulator, possibly the condenser should it become plugged (essentially the condenser acts much the way your vehicle’s radiator does) and any inline filters. However, it may all seem worth it on those 100-degree days.

(Please remember that these repair prices can also fluctuate based on geographic location, as well as vehicle make and model; and that these numbers represent averages, not actual prices offered at any specific repair facilities.)