Its Time to Clean Your Condenser

Are you ready to put winter behind you? If so, it’s time to inspect and clean the condenser in every vehicle in your fleet. By doing so, you’ll be ensured that this vital component should work as expected during summer’s heat.

Publication Date: 2019-09-18

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The condenser is a key component in any HVAC system. Its job is to convert high-pressure, high-temperature vapor refrigerant from the compressor into a liquid state. The vapor refrigerant enters the top of the condenser and moves through a coil. As outside air enters the system through the vehicle’s grille and travels across the condenser’s fins, heat is transferred to the outside air, and the refrigerant changes to a warm high-pressure liquid. The refrigerant then flows through the condenser through a line that takes it to the receiver drier.

The location of the condenser in most vehicles – typically between the grille and radiator – puts it at risk for damage, particularly during the winter months. As winter comes to an end, it’s smart to inspect your condenser for the following:

  • Leaves, twigs, trash and other road debris on the finswhich can restrict air flow so that heat cannot escape from the refrigerant to the outside air. Flying rocks from newly formed potholes can also clog or bend the condenser’s thin metal fins to the point that heat transfer is lost. To protect fins from such damage, go ahead and install a heavy-duty bug screen for use in the spring, summer and fall.
  • Puncture holes in the coilwhich can lead to refrigerant leaks. Road salt can eat away at the outside of the coil, while acid caused by moisture in a compressor can damage the coil from the inside.
  • Pressure levels within appropriate ranges. A visual inspection will often pinpoint bent fins or coolant leaks in the condenser, but go a step further and have each vehicle’s HVAC system pressure and vacuum tested. These tests can help detect hard-to-spot leaks in the condenser or other HVAC components. If a condenser fails either test, replace it. The receiver-drier should also be replaced anytime a vehicle’s HVAC system is opened.


In some cases, cleaning and straightening fins can extend a condenser’s life. But for many fleets, it’s more cost- and time-effective to replace damaged condensers, especially if you use value-priced components from Road Choice®.

Road Choice offers high-quality condensers and other HVAC components for just about every vehicle make and model. The Road Choice HVAC Catalog also offers everything you might need to complete a condenser installation, including receiver-driers, refrigerant and O-rings.

You can also order HVAC parts and coolant from the SELECT Part Store™. Your free membership gives you 24/7 access to parts pricing, inventory availability and ordering. Plus SELECT members receive fast shipping and parts discounts. Sign up today!