Car Air Conditioner Repair: Replacing the Evaporator
A bad evaporator is a common problem with a car's heating and cooling system. However common, many people call a mechanic when their evaporator fails because it seems like a tough job. Instead of spending money to get it repaired, you can follow the guidelines below to easily do the job yourself.
Step 1 – Familiarize Yourself with the Air Conditioning Evaporator
The auto air conditioning evaporator is located behind your dashboard, and it is crucial to the car's air conditioning and heating system. It cools and dehumidifies air in the passenger compartment of the car.
Freon enters the bottom of the air conditioning evaporator as a low-pressure fluid. The coolant flows through the evaporator coils at a 32-degrees Fahrenheit. A fan located behind the evaporator coils blows the cold air into the vehicle.
The dehumidifying process takes place when the warm air inside the car comes into contact with the cold evaporator surface. This warm air passes through the fins of your evaporator that causes the Freon coolant to boil. As it boils, it absorbs a great amount of heat. The ideal temperature for evaporator coils is 320-degrees Fahrenheit. On humid days, you will see water dripping from under your vehicle; this is normal.
When getting the car serviced, having your evaporator checked should be a part of your auto's routine checkup and maintenance. In order to prevent the engine from overheating, or if a leak check fails, the evaporator should be replaced. You will smell a strange odor once you turn on your air conditioner. That smell is a good indication that the evaporator needs to be replaced. Replacing the evaporator requires you to remove your vehicle's dashboard and center console.
Step 2 – Get to the Evaporator
Disconnect the battery cables and wait a couple of minutes for the driver-side and passenger-side air bags to disengage. Remove the inside instrument panel, steering wheel columns, glove-box door, instrument-panel cover bolts, left floor duct-pad screws and pad, steering column, ignition-shift-interlock cable, column wiring, air conditioning outlet duct, and the mounting bolts that support the brake pedal bracket to the column.
Step 3 – Remove the Evaporator
Flush all coolant from the system and place the liquid into an approved recycling unit. The refrigerant must be discharged before the evaporator can be remove because it is dangerous to remove parts when the refrigerant is still in the system. You must bleed, or discharge, the system first.
Remove the liquid line connection that goes to the evaporator, and then remove the heater hose from the core. Next, remove the air conditioning and heating unit from under the dashboard, which is located under the instrument panel. Turn the unit upside down to remove the screws that hold it together. Next, remove the center-adapter duct and the screws. Flip the unit back over to take the upper half of the “housing” off. Remove the evaporator from the lower housing case. Check for damage to the housing that holds the evaporator for any cracking or wearing, and be sure there are no missing pieces to the housing. Replace any damaged or worn pieces.
Step 4 – Replace the Evaporator
Lastly, install the new evaporator system by following all the steps above in reverse order, and then fill the system back with coolant.