How Much Oil to Add When Replacing AC Condenser?

The AC is a critical component in all cars that goes a long way in enhancing comfort in the car. It works to regulate the air by blowing cold air when the inside is hot and vice versa. However, as is the case with any other car component, the ac condenser may need occasional repair or replacement. 

Most modern vehicle AC systems will require a total of 4 ounces of oil. Usually, the owners’ manual will specify the right amounts, so you should consider consulting it. Underfilling the oil is likely to cause compression failure, while a higher level of oil will affect cooling performance. 

This article is a comprehensive guide on what is required when replacing an ac condenser including the cost and answers other related questions.  

How Much Oil Do I Need to Add When Replacing AC Condenser?

how much oil to add when replacing ac condenser

The owners’ manual should determine how much oil you will need to add when replacing your ac condenser. Most modern vehicles require a total of 4 ounces (120ml) of oil for all the components. The condenser typically needs around 1 ounce, the evaporator 1.5, and the compressor 1.4 ounces.

Moreover, the correct amount is vital since underfilling tends to cause compression failure. Overfilling, on the other hand, affects cooling performance. It is always best to add oil when replacing any component to compensate for that which is lost during replacement. 

What Are the Signs of a Bad AC Condenser?

Due to the condenser’s location at the front of the radiator, it is susceptible to a lot of damage. The last thing you need is to turn on the A/C on a hot day only for the air to come out hot–this is exactly what a faulty ac feels like. You can always tell if your ac has some issues from the following symptoms. 

The Air Does Not Blow Cold

One of the most common symptoms of a bad A/C system is that the air will not blow cold when you turn it on. This also applies if there is an issue with the condenser. This is usually the first clue that tells you there is something you need to check with the condenser. 

The Engine Overheats While Idling 

Engine overheating is a rare problem, but one of the main components that could be responsible for its occurrence is a bad ac condenser. If the condenser is in poor working conditions, the likelihood of it overheating under extreme temperatures is very high.

The extreme temperatures could cause melting and damage to other components resulting in the vehicle overheating. This scenario is common if the car was idling for a long time. 

Leaking Refrigerant 

Another tell-tale sign of a bad ac condenser is leakage. The refrigerant leaks are slightly different from the regular fluid leaks and thus difficult to spot. To make it easier, the first thing to note is that the refrigerant is green and tends to escape in gaseous form.

Depending on the location of the leak, it can come out as either gas or liquid. If you notice any green fluid in the area near your condenser, then your vehicle has a leak. 

Dashboard Warning Lights

Depending on the make and type of your vehicle, you may or may not have the dashboard warning lights for A/C-related problems. If the light is on, it indicates that there is an underlying problem with the A/C system—which should lead you to think of the condenser. 

Burning Smell From the Vents

When you try to crank up the A/C when it is not working correctly, there may be some nasty burning smell coming out of it. Usually, this means that the A/C components are overheating.

When the overheating increases, the plastic around the condenser and other components could start melting, hence the burning smell. If that happens, it would be best to keep the A/C off until you make some repairs. 

Do I Need to Add Oil When Replacing the Condenser?

The condenser is among the AC system components that require adequate oil to facilitate smooth running. In most cases when you are installing a new ac condenser, you will be required to add oil. It is usually done to compensate for the oil that was lost in leakage.

The condenser requires an adequate amount of oil for lubrication. The cylinders in the condenser work to compress refrigerant gases thus creating heat and friction. The oil controls the heat and reduces friction. 

Can I Replace My Car AC Condenser Myself?

No, you cannot install an AC condenser by yourself. It does not matter if you are equipped with the technical know-how of installing an AC unit—there are many electrical components that make the process risky.

Moreover, it can only take an experienced and licensed HVAC technician to ensure you equip your car with the right unit size. The work involved is delicate and has to be done meticulously to ensure peak AC energy efficiency. 

Can You Drive With a Leaking AC Condenser?

Driving with a leaking condenser is not a good idea. The system will eventually drain completely resulting in damage to the AC compressor. The best thing to do at the moment is not to use the AC system while driving or take the vehicle for repair as soon as possible.  

How Long Does It Take To Replace AC Condenser in a Car?

Averagely, replacing the ac condenser in your car will take around 4 to 8 hours. This length of time will vary depending on the size of the condenser unit you want to install, the proficiency of the technicians, and the condition of the ductwork.

Generally, licensed HVAC technicians should be able to perform the task in just a few hours. However, there are some problems you may encounter such as sudden weather changes, and cluttered installation areas, among other unexpected factors, that make the process take longer than expected. 

How Much Does It Cost to Replace AC Condenser?

Replacing an ac condenser is the right call if you want to save money and time in the long run. Averagely, the price of such a repair will cost you around $450 to $650.

However, if your refrigerant was leaking, which means you have to add some more refrigerant, this can cost you $120 to $150 more. Moreover, these costs are likely to vary depending on your vehicle and the repair shop you frequent. 

Of all the components of the A/C system to be replaced, the condenser is the most expensive. And it can only be legally done by a licensed technician. 


The condenser in the AC system works as a heat exchanger in that it cools down the refrigerant. Also, it works to change the refrigerant from vapor into liquid so it performs its functions optimally. 

You can drive with a bad AC condenser as long as you do not turn on the AC system while driving. However, some of the modern engines come with variable AC compressors. If the refrigerant is completely drained, the compressor will be damaged. 

PAG stands for polyalkylene glycol and is basically the oil created for compressors of automobiles. This fully hygroscopic oil works as a compressor lubricator specifically for the AC units with R-134a refrigerant. 


The AC system is instrumental in any automobile. It conveniently regulates the air depending on the internal conditions to make driving comfortable. Therefore, if there is something wrong with any of its components, we always want to check it out right away. This article has handled the failure of the condenser and what to do about it.