You can find a lot of things under the hood of your vehicle. And when you look at your car’s Air Conditioner, you might think it is really complicated, but the truth is, it’s not. You just have to know the basics of how it provides cold air into your vehicle and you will see it is really quite simple. Once you know the basics, you will know how to fix AC leaks in cars.
Your heater and air conditioner or HVAC does three important things, which includes heating up the interior and defrosting the windshield, as well as cooling the interior of the car. All these functions are needed to work together as a complete system. A main computer controls the climate control system. This main computer houses controls for the system and is usually located in the dash in most cases.
Fret not for we have prepared a quick guide about how to fix AC leaks in cars and which AC stop leak sealers are the best.
How much does it cost to fix an AC leak in a car?
Not all of us are mechanics, and not all of us are experts when it comes to HVAC or AC in our cars. So when you notice puddles showing up underneath your vehicle, you will have to find the source. You can try to find it by yourself, but it could come from somewhere else, and you will need your mechanic to check it for you. Typically, it will cost you around $150 to $800 depending on the severity of the problem or damage. You might have to purchase additional components to repair the AC and make it work well once again, because patching the leak may not be enough. You might have to install a new compressor, condenser, and sensor or hose. Even minor repairs like these could cost you a few hundred dollars.
Having a mechanic check and repair your AC problems may be a bit expensive, but let’s try to see cheaper alternatives first, like the AC Stop Leak sealers.
Does the car AC Stop Leak work?
It is understandable to have questions like, “Can I fix my AC system with AC Stop leak sealer and how does AC stop leak sealer work?” That's why we have provided simple but useful information to put your mind at ease.
AC stop leak sealers are nothing new to the market, since it is not a new product. To seal small leaks on pipelines, products like these have been used in the natural gas industry for decades. These products are sold as a combination leak sealer and seal conditioner or just a leak sealer. You can find them in most AC recharge kits as an added selling feature.
The product is introduced or injected into the Air conditioning system as a liquid and stays liquid until it gets in contact with the leak area. The expanding refrigerant removes heat as it leaks out of the system, creating a cold spot that eventually causes moisture in the air to condense. It is that same moisture that interacts with the sealer to create a scab that acts like an epoxy to seal the leak.
On the other hand, if the product is a combination sealer and conditioner, the product includes a seal swelling agent that softens and swells O-rings situated in hose connections.
What is the best AC leak sealer?
One smart and economical way to deal with an AC leak, before calling out an appliance repair technician, is to try one of the AC leak stoppers in the market today. They can provide an instant fix for most car and household air conditioning problems. Like what we have mentioned before, you just have to know the basics to be sure that you know what you are doing before attempting to use any of the products on our list.
Escaping refrigerants can be hazardous and cause negative effects on your health.
- Leak Savers Direct Inject
All you have to do is charge it in with the refrigerant since there are no syringes to deal with when using the Leak Savers Direct Inject, which approximately costs $34. While keeping you from ending up with a mess on your hands and clothes, this also makes it as foolproof as possible.
This product works well on commercial systems, can help prevent future leaks, and safe for manifold gauges.
- Interdynamics High Mileage
This product costs approximately $17 and was created to revive air conditioners in older vehicles. Interdynamics High Mileage works by forming a film around moving components, minimizing additional damage while the sealer additive plugs any undetected holes.
This product replaces lost refrigerant, is threaded top for easy application, and made for cars with over 75,000 miles.
- Interdynamics A/C PRO ACP-105
This sealer costs around $18 and is a combination of leak stopper and recharger that restores lost R-134a refrigerant and oil while it eliminates acid and seals up smaller leaks. This product also includes anti-corrosive additives to help protect the metal pipes for years to come.
This product helps recondition rubber components, reduce moisture buildup, and is easy to apply.
- FJC 9140 Stop Leak
It incorporates red dye to emphasize trouble spots and signal you to whether or not they have been plugged, so you can be sure that the job is done. There’s no need for a special UV lamp or other equipment to pinpoint the pigment. The best part is, it only costs around $5.
This product enlarges O-rings, is economical, and is excellent for lubing gaskets.
- Red Tek ProSeal22
It approximately costs $26. It can help stop escaping coolant, it doesn’t matter whether your system is basically made of metal or rubber components. Once introduced, it remains in the line as a liquid lube, ready to patch future perforations.
This product does not contain methanol, is moisture activated, and no hose included.
- Interdynamics AC PRO MRL-3
The Interdynamics AC PRO MRL-3 costs around $27. If you have a vehicle losing coolant, give this product a try before taking it to the mechanic. It creates a scab on the exterior of the hose, keeping the elements at bay while simultaneously preventing refrigerant from escaping.
This product includes a drying agent, additives to rejuvenate o-rings, and is messy to apply.
These products can not ALWAYS fix AC leaks in cars. Worst case scenario is that the AC of your car badly needs repairs or parts replacement. Again, you need to know what you are doing before doing anything. So let’s talk about the basics of your car air conditioning system.
How long does it take to fix AC in a car?
About three to five hours. But before you can properly fix anything in your car’s AC, you need to know how to diagnose the problem first. So here’s a short but comprehensive guide to do just that.
- Low Refrigerant Levels
This is one of the most common reasons for hot air coming from car AC vents. This is the stuff that provides the means upon which the system can get rid of excess heat and supplies the necessary element for cooling the passenger compartment.
If there is inadequate refrigerant circulating in the AC system, in that case it will not be able to get rid of the excess heat. Therefore, this heat gets blown through the AC vents.
There is no need to recharge or top up the refrigerant in an airtight car AC system. The reason behind that is, there is no space for the refrigerant to escape and evaporate. The only possible reason that you have inadequate or insufficient levels of refrigerant is when there is a leak in the system.
The problem now is locating the site of the leak. The Refrigerant is often in a gaseous state as it goes out of its canister. It gets pressurized and turns into liquid form as it reaches the compressor. And then, it enters the condenser where the liquid refrigerant releases excess heat. From here, the refrigerant returns into its gaseous state again before getting in contact with the evaporator.
It is pretty evident that refrigerants have the extraordinary ability to turn into gaseous state or form the moment it passes through an area with less pressure or resistance. A liquid refrigerant can turn into gas almost in an instant since leak causes a reduced pressure within the system.
It can occur anywhere in the hoses or connections of the system, as well as in the condenser, the compressor, and the evaporator. The point is that average vehicle owners will have difficulty determining the exact location of the leak. Therefore, only a certified car AC technician can help fix the problem.
- Problems in the Condenser
The main purpose of the condenser is to get rid of the heat from the liquid refrigerant coming from the compressor. This enables the liquid to cool down before it returns into gas as it moves through the rest of the AC system. The condenser appears to be a smaller version of the radiator. There is a pair of cooling fans, right in front of the condenser, to help get rid of the heat from the liquid refrigerant.
There are two main problems in the condenser that could cause the car AC system to release hot air. The first is related to a broken condenser. Any puncture to any of the tubes of the condenser can cause a leakage of refrigerant. It is possible to break the condenser altogether, if there is no leak. This could lead to a loss of its basic function.
The other problem is an obstruction anywhere in the series of tubes in the condenser. Any degree of obstruction in the system can cause the condenser to execute principal function. Hot liquid refrigerant remains hot. In this case, it is not surprising that the air flow in the passenger cabin becomes hot.
Dealing with obstruction often requires flushing of the system by a certified AC technician. If the condenser is already broken, then the only next step is to replace it with a new one.
- Faulty Compressor
The compressor is considered as the heart of the modern AC system. It is what drives the refrigerant throughout the series of hoses, tubes, and interlinked devices. It would be impossible to move the refrigerant without it. There will still be flow of air through the AC vents in the passenger compartment because of the fans in this section. However, you can’t expect the air to be cold.
Among the many reasons why a compressor may fail is if it was not used for a very long period of time. Once you start it, it shocks the system and can speed up its deterioration. One way to keep your compressor in good shape is by running your AC on full blast for 10 to 15 minutes on a monthly basis, regardless of the surrounding temperatures outside.
- Broken Cooling Fans
It has been mentioned earlier that the condenser has a pair of cooling fans in front to help it remove the heat from the liquid refrigerant. Broken cooling fans will not be able to remove much of the heat from the refrigerant. The air inside the car is not as hot as a faulty or broken condenser, but it is still enough to make you sweat.
These fans are not the toughest components in a modern vehicle. Cooling fans can crack if hit by a road debris. In this case, the only solution is to replace it. One other possible cause of a cooling fan problem is a blown fuse due to some other electrical problems.
- Electrical Problems
Most of the components that run the car AC system requires electricity to work. The thing is, it is not always easy to diagnose an electrical problem. You have to follow the wires from the fuse box all the way to the individual air conditioning components. Plenty of these wires are hidden behind other automotive parts.
Inspecting those wires that you can reach can help. Once you find any signs of damage, it is possible to patch the wires. If even after patching mending the wires and nothing changes, then it's time to call an auto electrician to determine and fix the problem.
It does not necessarily mean that your AC is broken and needs replacement, if it releases hot air. Most of the time, it requires recharging of refrigerants, sealing of leaks, and even replacement of some components.