Your vehicle’s air conditioning system is a complex system of components, each of which plays an important role. However, not all the components will continue to work properly if they come into contact with moisture, and that is where the AC accumulator comes in. It keeps the liquid refrigerant from getting into the AC compressor. If the accumulator is not doing its job, then moisture enters the compressor, mixes with the refrigerant, and transforms into an acid that eats away at air conditioner hoses, causing them to leak. The AC accumulator also filters out contaminants that could enter your AC system, preventing refrigerant from circulating effectively.

Of course you probably don’t use your air conditioner every day, unless you live in a very hot climate. As long as your air conditioning system is operating effectively, there is no need to replace the accumulator, and the life of an AC unit in a vehicle is usually 10-15 years. That said, however, a clogged accumulator is often the reason that the AC is not working. As a rule of thumb, any time your air conditioning unit is opened up for repairs, you should replace the accumulator, whether or not it caused the problem.

Signs that your AC accumulator needs to be replaced include:

  • Little or no cold air when AC is turned on
  • Leaking fluid
  • Unpleasant odor

If you are having problems with the air conditioning in your car, the problem could be a clogged or damaged AC accumulator. At YourMechanic, we can diagnose the problem, and if necessary, replace the AC accumulator.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does an AC Accumulator Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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