How do you fix an AC evaporator leak in your car?


Evaporator is the component that transfers AC cooling to air flowing through the AC vents. Air from AC blower fan will flow through evaporator and gets cooled. This air then flows to the vents and then to the passenger compartment. This is how we get cooling in to the passenger cabin. The evaporator looks like a radiator but is smaller in size. If evaporator leaks then the AC gas will escape and AC will not cool the air since cooling does not happen without gas. If the car is used for prolonged duration in this condition the atmospheric moisture that gets in to the AC system will cause failure of other components of AC system. The AC compressor is among the main components to get effected due to moisture. This will create additional expenses during car ac repair.

The reason why evaporator leaks is a bit complex. To understand that we need to appreciate the fact there is no material that does all the jobs well. The evaporator has to be a very efficient heat absorber for the air by transferring AC cooling to the air. This means it cannot have very thick walls too. It has to last long so it cannot have too thin walls either. The point I am trying to make is that it is always a trade off during the design to make it durable and efficient. Over the time vibration and shocks from car running and the action of elements effect its life. The elements in this case will be the composition of air that circulates through it and the impurities in the AC gas that constantly act on the material. Other debris that accumulate on it like decomposing leaves and other matter like bird excrete have chemical action on it too. Though evaporator is located quite inside the car in the absence of AC filter any matter that accumulates near the air intake under the front windshield can find its way to the evaporator.

The location of the evaporator is in the dashboard and cannot be directly accessed for car ac repair. The AC gas also has to be charged at right pressure before the AC will work again after replacement. Once the evaporator is accessed and replaced to fill in AC gas AC charging machine will be required which is only available in workshops. To start with the AC system needs to be filled in with Nitrogen to identify the leak before concluding the defect in evaporator. The replacement job can be done in a workshop only as a lot of components have to be removed to gain access the evaporator. These components are dashboard steering wheel, central console and a part of roof paneling. Another reason is the need for gas charging machine.

Modern cars have rich interiors and the parts have hidden fasteners for aesthetics. The more expensive the car more expensive and intricate will be the dashboard. This can pose challenges during removing and fitting dashboard as parts might break in the process. The work involves a variety of tools and skills as the dashboard is an assembly of variety of materials making it a job for the workshop. The parts then can be expensive to replace. One more requirement will be having the technical literature in the form of workshop manual or e-catalogue will be needed for the procedure to remove and refit the parts. Due the variety of designs in the interiors the type of fitment is also very unpredictable. The conclusion here will be that it is best left to workshops.

Here’s how the workshop does it. The leak is identified by filling in nitrogen in the system. If the leak is major the leakage area will be clear immediately otherwise the car may have to be left in the nitrogen filled condition for few hours. Once the leak is confirmed in evaporator the part will be replaced and leak test is done again to confirm the system is leak proof. Then the rest of the components will be fitted and AC gas charging will be done after vacuuming the system to ensure no moisture will be circulated in the system. The car can be then delivered post a test drive which will complete the process of replacing evaporator. Use Carworkz to find the right workshop for you.

1,728 thoughts on “How do you fix an AC evaporator leak in your car?”

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