What is a car accumulator replacement?

In this service, a mechanic will take a look at your car’s air conditioning system, diagnose any problems with the accumulator, and replace it with a new one.
An accumulator controls how much coolant goes into the evaporator, in which the air is cooled before it blows into the cabin. It also gets rid of excess moisture and debris and keeps other internal parts from getting corroded or otherwise damaged.
Depending on what kind of vehicle you drive, your car will either have a receiver/dryer (which separates liquids from gases in cars with thermal expansion valves) or an accumulator.

How to replace an AC accumulator

To replace a faulty AC accumulator, your mechanic will perform the following steps:
  • Remove refrigerant from the air conditioning system
  • Remove the faulty AC accumulator
  • Install a new AC accumulator
  • Place the AC system into a vacuum and recharge it with coolant
  • Test drive the vehicle to ensure the AC system is working properly again
To access the accumulator, the mechanic needs to disassemble surrounding parts, which can make the replacement process pretty complicated. For this reason, it’s strongly recommended that you leave this service to a professional.

When do I need an accumulator replacement?

Your car’s AC accumulator is designed to gather excess moisture and debris, so it will inevitably need to be replaced at some point.
Here’s how you might be able to tell it’s time to replace your accumulator:
  • Your AC isn’t cooling air as it should be
  • Too much pressure in the system: too much refrigerant can create more pressure in the air conditioning system than your accumulator can handle, which can lead to it clogging
  • A strange smell: if your accumulator is clogged, mold and mildew can build up in the system, which will create a noticeable (and unpleasant) odor
This isn’t an uncommon issue and mainly occurs in cars with aged AC systems (10 years or older). How long you put off this repair ultimately depends on how long you think you’re able to stand the heat (or the smell).
An improperly working accumulator may not be life or death for your car, but you’ll need an accumulator replacement to restore your AC system to its proper function.
It’s generally recommended that you replace the accumulator any time your air conditioning system is opened up for maintenance.

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