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The air conditioning (AC) condenser is part of your car’s AC system. Hopefully, that much is obvious. The condenser has the important job of removing heat from the refrigerant circulating throughout the system, thereby converting the refrigerant from a vapor to a liquid. You’ll find it located behind your car’s grille, in front of the radiator. Just how does the condenser work its magic to keep you cool? It’s actually pretty straightforward – no engineering degree needed. You see, the condenser is a heat exchanger, much like your car’s radiator. When your car is moving down the road, cool air passes across the condenser, removing heat from the refrigerant inside. At lower speeds, a fan located in the engine compartment takes care of airflow duties. Because, inside the condenser, the refrigerant’s temperature drops, the refrigerant also transitions from a vapor into a liquid. Once the refrigerant is a liquid, it can be metered into another AC component, called the evaporator, to cool the cabin.
The AC condenser is an integral part of your car’s AC system. So, it should come as no surprise that, once the condenser is down for the count, you’ll be getting nothing but warm air out of the dashboard vents. The condenser can either fail because it’s leaking, clogged or restricted.
Here’s another shocker: The AC compressor can develop refrigerant leaks. Sometimes, the leaks are visible to the naked eye. In other cases, your mechanic may need special tools to pinpoint the problem.
Your car isn’t going to quit running if you’ve got a bad AC condenser. It is a good idea, however, to get a damaged condenser replaced as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the AC system.
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