How to Clean Car AC Evaporator without Removing It?

Taking care of your car’s air conditioning system is an essential part of your car maintenance routine. One such ac maintenance is to clean the ac evaporator as a dirty ac evaporator will let out contaminated air into your vehicle’s cabin.

However, cleaning the evaporator will generally require you to take it out first, which is stressful. But there is an easier way to clean it without taking it out. So in this article, we will show you how to clean a car ac evaporator without removing it. But before cleaning, here is how to know the evaporator is dirty and what happens when it is dirty.

car ac evaporator symptoms

How do you know if your evaporator is clogged?

When your car’s ac evaporator is clogged, it will no longer function as it should. So here are some dirty car ac evaporator symptoms to look out for.

  • Your ac will be emitting warm air instead of cold air, and even if cool air comes out, it will be weak.
  • The ac goes on and off frequently but doesn’t cool your car
  • Fluctuation in temperature–sometimes cold, sometimes warm
  • You will also notice a weird smell in your cabin whenever the ac is turned on 
  • A clogged ac evaporator will cause unusual noises in the cooling system. So you could be hearing a hissing or banging noise

Read Also: How To Make Car AC Colder – Everything You Need To Know

What happens when evaporator coils are dirty?

When the evaporator coils become too dirty, you will notice the following symptoms:

  • A dirty ac evaporator coil will cause your ac to lose its cooling capacity. Here, the air entering your cabin won’t be as cold as it used to be.
  • Your ac runs longer to produce the same amount of air it formerly produced. For example, if your ac takes five minutes to cool your car, a dirty coil may cause the ac to take longer.
  • Because your ac runs longer, you will use up more fuel which means more bills.
  • You may experience frequent ac breakdowns. 
  • A dirty coil will cause frost to form on the evaporator when ac is on. This build-up of frost stops the transfer of heat within the air in your car, causing the air conditioner to stop cooling the air that evaporates. Should this continue for long, your ac might break down completely.

Read Also: Clogged Heater Core Symptoms: Causes and How To Unclog?

How to clean car ac evaporator without removing it

When people talk about dirty evaporators, they are referring to a dirty evaporator coil. So cleaning the evaporator is cleaning its coil.  Ideally, using a car evaporator cleaning service makes the process easy and faster since they are more experienced. However, it will cost you money. So you can do this yourself by using the following materials and the steps mentioned.

Materials

  • Evaporator cleaner, preferably, one with a spray nozzle for easy application. Some of the best car evaporator cleaners you can get in the market include products from JFC, leak saver, etc.
  • Screwdriver and a set of basic tools
  • Dry soft cloth
  • Protective gloves, face mask, and goggles
  • A spray bottle filled with clean water
  • Hand electric fan

See how to clean the ac evaporator coil or core

1. Locate the ac system and evaporator core

Your car ac evaporator location will differ from car to car depending on where the ac system is in your car. In some cars, you will find the AC system under your hood. In other cars, you will find it on the firewall separating the engine from your passenger seat.

After which, you locate the ac evaporator core. The core is enclosed in the plastic box that pops up in the firewall, usually connected to the blower fan.

2. Get a clear view of the evaporator core and wear protective gears

You may find the blower fan mounted on the heater; this should obstruct you from reaching the core. So remove them using the screwdrivers and other basic tools you have. Once you can see the core, put on your protective gloves, goggles, and face mask.

3. Check if the core needs cleaning

Examine the ac evaporator coil condition; if it is dirty, move on to the next step. If, however, it is damaged, you may need the help of professionals to change it.

4. Apply an evaporator coil cleaner

Spray the cleaner into the evaporator core and let it sit for 45 minutes. Car ac evaporator cleaner foams are so good a way to know the cleaner has done its job. This is to check if the foam disappears, leaving the only liquid. This liquid will then leave through the opening.

5. Rinse the evaporator core with water and clean with a cloth

Take your bottle of water spray and spray the treated evaporator core, then wipe with a soft clean rag. Ensure you don’t apply much pressure using the water spray so you don’t overfill the core with water or damage its components. When you’re sure there are no more residues, move to the next.

6. Dry with an electric hand fan

Use an electric hand fan to dry it properly. Avoid the urge to substitute a fan with appliances like a hair dryer. The heat can damage the system.

7. Reset the ac to its original setup

If you had removed any part such as the blower fan or resistor unit to access the ac evaporator core, you should reinstall them.

Read Also: Symptoms of a bad ac Condenser in Car: Diagnose and Fixes.

Pros and cons of cleaning car ac evaporator without removing it

While cleaning the evaporator removes the hassle of taking it off, it has some drawbacks. So let’s see the pros and cons of cleaning the car ac without removing it.

Pros

  • You don’t need to disassemble the entire ac to clean the evaporator, hence saving time.
  • Fast and efficient 

Cons

  • If not done properly, you may flood the ac with too much water and damage its components. 

Car ac evaporator cleaning cost 

The cleaning cost of your car’s ac evaporator depends on your approach. Suppose you’re using an ac evaporator cleaning service, which is usually the best; you may spend from $200-$700. If they are not removing it, it could be around $100-$400, while removing the evaporator coil for cleaning could cost $400-$700.

However, if you’re doing it yourself, you may spend less. All you need is an evaporator coil cleaner costing around $20-50 and some basic tools you may already have.

Car ac evaporator replacement cost

Car ac evaporator replacement costs could range from $900 to $1200 depending on the new ac evaporator and labor cost. But generally, a new car ac evaporator costs between $600 and $750, with labor costs around $300-$450 depending on the auto repair shop.

Read Also: Symptoms of Bad AC Compressor in Car: Diagnose and How to Change?

evaporator core cleaning

FAQs

Q: What can I use to clean my evaporator coil?

You can use an evaporator coil cleaner; there are some good products you will find out there. Alternatively, you can use a mild detergent mix with warm water poured. For disinfecting, add white vinegar to the detergent warm water mixture. And importantly, ensure you pour this solution into a spray bottle. A spray bottle helps in easy application.

Q: Can I vacuum my car ac evaporator coil?

Yes, you can vacuum your car’s AC evaporator coil. In fact, using a vacuum cleaner with a hose attached to it is one of the quickest ways to clean the coils without removing them. Put on the vacuum cleaner and place the attached hose on the evaporator; any dirt in it will come out due to the grip.

Q: Is it Ok to spray water on your air conditioning while running?

Yes, it is okay to spray water on your air conditioning while running; it won’t cause any damage. In fact, this helps increase its cooling efficiency and remove the dirt accumulated from air flowing through the unit.

Q: Can I use Simple Green to clean my ac evaporator coils?

You can use simple green to clean the ac evaporator coil. It’s one of the best all-purpose cleaners on the market. So you can use it for your ac and other things.

Q: Can you use dish soap to clean ac coils?

Yes, you can use dish soap to clean ac coils. Just mix mild dish soap with warm water; then, apply the solution to the evaporator coils using a spray bottle. 

Q: What causes car ac evaporator to freeze up?

An ac evaporator freezes up due to the air conditioner absorbing moisture, dirt, and other factors into the evaporator.

Final Words

This article has explained how to clean ac evaporator without removing it. Just ensure you have a good evaporator cleaner and follow the above-mentioned steps. If you’re unsure what to do, you better abstain from cleaning it yourself to avoid damage to your ac. You can contact an ac cleaning service, but you will need to pay some bucks for this service.

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Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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