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Expansion Valve (Orifice Tube) Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your expansion valve (oriface tube) replacement? Use Jerry's GarageGuard to get fair cost estimate for your expansion valve (oriface tube) replacement.
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John Davis
Expert Automotive Writer
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Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content
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Edited by Jessica Barrett, Senior Car & Insurance Editor

How much does an expansion valve replacement cost?

The average total cost of an orifice tube replacement is $479, including $102 for parts and $359 for labor. The exact price will depend on your vehicle’s year and model.
The parts cost includes installing a new orifice tube, but might also require a new condenser, compressor, or evaporator. As for labor costs, it takes around 3.2 hours for a certified mechanic to inspect your vehicle, determine whether a repair is necessary, and then perform the expansion valve orifice tube replacement. 
Here’s how much you’ll pay to replace the expansion valve in some popular vehicle models:
Estimate DateCustomerCarFair Cost EstimateParts CostLabor CostLabor Time
May 24, 2024
Hyundai Accent
$413
$103
$310
2.8 Hours
May 18, 2024
Porsche Cayman
$444
$103
$341
2.8 Hours
May 17, 2024
Ford F-350
$437
$103
$334
2.8 Hours
May 16, 2024
BMW 645
$447
$103
$343
2.8 Hours
May 15, 2024
Fiat 500L
$499
$103
$396
2.8 Hours
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How did we estimate these prices?

Jerry's experts researched and collected data from 2500+ real repair shops in all 50 states in the US, including everything from the total cost of repair services to the hourly labor cost for mechanic labor in each shop. We combined that data with our expert database of hundreds of real repair jobs, thousands of real cars, millions of real car part prices in order to best estimate the cost of each repair service. Our labor cost estimate is calculated by taking the average hourly labor rate for a certified mechanic in the US, times the number of hours it takes on average to complete a repair. We recommend you compare your local shops with Jerry and contact those shops directly to get final pricing for your vehicle.

What parts do you need for an AC expansion valve replacement?

Your car’s AC consists of a condenser, an expansion valve, an evaporator core, and a compressor, among other parts. Tubes containing pressurized refrigerant connect every part of the system. When the refrigerant is at its coldest (around the evaporator), it absorbs moisture from the air being blown into the cabin, and when it’s at its warmest, it’s already on its way back to the compressor and condenser.
If your AC unit is on the fritz, the total parts bill could include:
  1. New
    air conditioning expansion valve or orifice tube
    ($2-$270): The AC expansion valve (or orifice tube) removes pressure from the cool, liquid refrigerant before it passes to the evaporator. Recommended brands are UAC (Universal Air Conditioner), Four Seasons, and AC Delco.
  2. Replacement air conditioning evaporator core ($2-$415): Relieved of pressure, the cooled refrigerant can now expand into a gas and absorb all the heat from the air passing through the evaporator on its way to the vents in the cabin. It then makes its way to the compressor. We recommend brands like UAC (Universal Air Conditioner), Four Seasons, and TYC.
  3. New
    air conditioning compressor
    ($30-$4,100): At the next stop in the cycle, the warm cloud of refrigerant flows into the compressor to be pressurized and forced back into a liquid state. Recommended brands include Denso, Four Seasons, and UAC (Universal Air Conditioner).
  4. New
    air conditioning condenser
    ($70-$880): The condenser looks like a miniature radiator. The warm, liquid refrigerant passing through its coils sheds its heat against the outside air before moving through the expansion valve or orifice tube. Recommended brands include Spectra Premium, TYC, and Four Seasons.
You can buy expansion valve replacement parts for your car from auto parts stores like AutoZone, NAPA Auto Parts, and Advance Auto Parts, as well as online retailers such as Amazon and RockAuto. However, like price, recommended brands may also vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model.m
Keep in mind: While an orifice tube replacement requires only a single part, you might also require a new condenser or evaporator to repair your car’s AC.
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts cost more than aftermarket parts, but they often include better warranties. For example, asking a Toyota mechanic to install a genuine expansion valve will net you a 24-month/25,000-mile warranty. That being said, some aftermarket performance parts manufacturers are very competitive with the quality of OEM parts.
You can buy replacement parts at automotive body shops, parts shops like NAPA Auto Parts, Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone, dealerships, or online stores like Amazon and RockAuto. If you prefer OEM parts, you can also try your vehicle manufacturer’s official website. Ford, Nissan, and just about every other car maker sell OEM parts online. Check your owner’s manual for any crucial specifications so you don’t buy the wrong part.

Where can I get my expansion valve replaced?

If you’re a fan of the way Jerry helps you compare
car insurance quotes
, try comparing fair price estimates* for auto repairs with Jeryr's
GarageGuard™
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Join the app and you’ll connect with a network of over 2,500 vetted auto repair shops across the country. After browsing real hourly labor rates, diagnostics fees, and user reviews, you’ll feel more confident than ever leaving your car at the garage.
Download the app today to browse quotes for repair services at vetted shops like the ones below!
176 Reviews
Kenny and Billy's Auto Center
address
473 Elizabeth, NJ
Expansion Valve Orifice Tube Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$442
(Parts - $83, Labor - $359)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$130
174 Reviews
Yoo's Auto Service & Collision
address
189 W Duncannon Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Expansion Valve Orifice Tube Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$317
(Parts - $83, Labor - $234)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$100
177 Reviews
54th Street Auto Center
address
415 W 54th St, New York, NY
Expansion Valve Orifice Tube Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$528
(Parts - $83, Labor - $445)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$191
171 Reviews
Vandorn Auto Repair
address
4938C Eisenhower Ave, Springfield, VA
Expansion Valve Orifice Tube Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$497
(Parts - $83, Labor - $414)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$170
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How did we vet these shops?

Jerry experts researched 2500+ real repair shops across the US. We talked to real shop customers, and analyzed both real shop pricing data and thousands of real customer reviews from each shop to verify them individually. We do not partner with the shops listed above, and our analysis is always unbiased.

How will a mechanic replace my car’s expansion valve?

An expansion valve replacement requires special equipment, training, and caution. Your mechanic will have to:
  1. Unseal the AC unit of your car
  2. Evacuate the refrigerant and test it to see if it’s recoverable or too contaminated for re-use
  3. Locate the expansion valve (or orifice tube), disconnect the AC hoses, and cap them
  4. Unfasten and remove the expansion valve or orifice tube
  5. Install the new expansion valve or orifice tube
  6. Replace the O-rings that seal the valve or tube and the refrigerant lines
  7. Reconnect the refrigerant lines
  8. Recharge the cooling system with recovered or fresh refrigerant
The refrigerant in your car is a regulated substance (not to mention toxic), so you shouldn’t replace the expansion valve on your own. Leave it for a professional.

What happens when an expansion valve goes bad?

An expansion valve (orifice valve) in your car's air conditioning system serves as a bottleneck. It receives high-pressure refrigerant and depressurizes it into gas for the compressor. If the valve is clogged, the compressor may overheat. The AC high-pressure hose could also burst, spraying corrosive refrigerant into the other components.

What is an expansion valve (orifice tube) replacement?

Refrigerant is the lifeblood of your car’s air conditioning unit. The expansion valve or orifice tube controls the pressure and amount of refrigerant entering the evaporator. An expansion valve (or orifice tube) replacement involves removing the valve and installing a new one.

When should I replace the expansion valve in my car?

The expansion valve converts refrigerant from liquid to gas for use in the evaporator core. Without a properly functioning expansion valve, your car’s air conditioner will begin to malfunction. 
A broken valve could cause too much refrigerant to flood the system, causing the AC unit to freeze, but not emit cold air. At the other extreme, too little refrigerant will cause the condenser to simply stop working, resulting in a cabin full of hot air. 

How long does an AC expansion valve last?

There is no generally-accepted life expectancy for a car expansion valve or orifice tube. It should last for the lifetime of the car, but it can be affected by wear and tear over time. You will probably have to replace your expansion valve at some point if you live in a hotter climate, especially if you don’t take your car in for routine maintenance.

Is it easy to replace a car expansion valve yourself?

Replacing an AC orifice tube isn’t a great DIY project. It requires specialist equipment to evacuate and replace the refrigerant in the lines, and it could be dangerous. The refrigerant in your car is toxic, flammable, and corrosive. If it gets contaminated before it gets back in the lines, it could affect other parts of the cooling system.

FAQs

The most common causes of expansion valve and orifice tube failure are age, wear, moisture, or contaminants like dust and dirt. Age and wear are self-explanatory; all the components in your AC (especially those containing high-pressure liquid) will thin and loosen over time. But you can prevent moisture and contaminants from entering your car's cooling system by
cleaning the AC condenser
and replacing the HVAC
car air filter
.
Depending on the vehicle, the expansion valve can be located under the hood, under the dashboard, or near the firewall. You’ll have to check your model’s repair manual to be sure. If you can't find the expansion valve, your car might use an orifice tube, which is located within the AC high-pressure hose to the evaporator.
Yes, a bad expansion valve might cause a refrigerant leak. An expansion valve is comprised of several small valves and chambers that regulate how much refrigerant enters the evaporator. A clog or a malfunction, in combination with high pressure, can easily cause the unit to leak.

Meet Our Experts

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John Davis
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Car Expert
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Certified mechanic with 10+ years of experience
John Davis is an expert automotive writer and former automotive mechanic. John's work spans multiple categories, and he relishes the opportunity to research a new subject and expand his area of expertise and industry knowledge. To date, John has written more than 200 articles covering car maintenance and care, car advice, how-to guides, and more.
Prior to joining Jerry’s editorial team, John worked as a mechanic and freelance writer, creating content for clients including HotCars and SetPower.
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Jessica Barrett
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Car Expert
Jessica Barrett is a senior insurance writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the automotive and travel industries. A specialist in car insurance, car loans, and car ownership, Jessica’s mission is to create comprehensive content that car owners can use to manage their costs and improve their lives. As a managing editor for a team of writers and insurance specialists, Jessica has edited over 2,000 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from local insurance shopping tips to refinancing car loans with bad credit.
Before joining Jerry as a senior content editor in 2021, Jessica created visual content for clients such as Expedia, Vivid Seats, Budget Direct Car Insurance, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor. Her content was published in Business Insider, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, and the BBC.
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Kathleen Flear
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Car Expert
Kathleen Flear is an expert insurance writer and editor who heads up Jerry’s editorial team as director of content. Kathleen empowers drivers to make smart car ownership decisions through  best-in-class articles on insurance, loans, and maintenance. Prior to joining Jerry in 2021, Kathleen served as managing editor for a team of SEO content marketing professionals at Article-Writing.co and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a range of digital publications, including Chicago Literati magazine and Golden Words. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in creative writing and fiction from Sierra Nevada University.
*The price information provided on our car repair webpages is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual prices for car repair services may vary based on various factors, including but not limited to the make and model of your vehicle, the extent of repair required, and the prevailing market conditions. All prices for real repair shops are estimations based on our research only. Therefore, the prices listed on our webpages should not be considered as final quotes or binding offers.