Auto Air Conditioning Repair Cost

auto air conditioner repair cost

Typical car A/C evaporator core located inside your dashboard.

My air conditioner blows only hot air.  My mechanic has put Freon (whatever the new chemical is) in and says that the compressor works, but I need the “box” under the dash repaired or replaced.

The price he is quoting is very high.  Another mechanic quoted a price that was half that.  Can you give me your best guess on a worst case scenario cost for such work?



Thanks for your email Steve,


I wonder what “box” he is referring to?  Maybe the evaporator core which is inside the dash on the passenger side?  That is an expense job to replace, say $800+-

The evaporator is just like a small radiator made out of aluminum and can leak Freon.  But if you add new Freon it should blow cold air until the Freon leaks out again, since the evaporator core is a non mechanical device…nothing moves, or is electronic to it.

I would get a second opinion from another mechanic. Let him add Freon, check the pressures on the compressor and come up with their own conclusion.

You can not SEE the evaporator so it is a good “guess” for many non skilled mechanics to place the blame on. A/C work is expensive and tricky and you need an experienced A/C mechanic to diagnosis it.

And for some reason I don’t think you have either, and accurate diagnosis or a skilled A/C mechanic.

To properly diagnose any air conditioner problem you first have to check the Freon level and pressure inside the system. You use special A/C gauges to do this, and you need some knowledge of how A/C systems operate.

If the system is low on Freon, you have a leak somewhere. You should not have to add Freon, it’s a closed system that if working properly does not need to have Freon added.

If the system is low on Freon, then you need to use a Freon leak detector to help you locate where the source of the leak is coming from. Since it is a gas, you can not just look for it to leak out somewhere.

Once you locate the source of the leak, then the mechanic can quote the repairs. A/C work is expensive, so just replacing a small A/C hose can be $100’s.

The actual repair time might only be 1 hour to replace the hose, but you have to reclaim any Freon inside the system first, then after the repair you have to add the Freon back to the system and then re-leak test.

So when all said and done, that hose repair can take 3 hours plus materials, and Freon is not cheap and usually requires 3-4 cans to fully charge the system. You can see how this repair can cost $500 really quickly.

Harder to get to items like the A/C compressor or the evaporator located in the dash, can easily add $100’s just in labor alone and those parts cost $100’s for the evaporator and could be $1,000 for the actual compressor part itself.

Keep me posted as to what you find out.

Posted in: A/C and Heater

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Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."
  • Austin Davis

    Ken, very glad you took the time and effort to get a second opinion, especially dealing with costly repairs like A/C

  • Ken Lucas

    Very helpful post. I used to have the same problem with my Corolla, it only blew hot air and my mechanic said I needed to get almost everything changed, after reading your post I went to ask another 2 mechanics that specialize in air conditioning and it turns out they agreed the freon was leaking and that was the only problem.