On Orders Over $99

Select Your Vehicle

Get the parts you need today. Pay later with . Learn more


Our USA based
parts pros can help.

Click Here

Industry Leading Warranty

Click to learn more


Home >   How To >   How to Repair AC Parts >   Effects of Refrigerant Loss to the AC System

Effects of Refrigerant Loss to the AC System


The components of the AC system can function properly only if they are lubricated regularly. In addition to keeping the system lubricated, the oil cools the compressor down. Therefore, when the oil level drops, it also means less cooling for the compressor. The lower the oil level drops, the more damage can be sustained by the AC parts. When the operating temperature raises, the chances of internal damage also increases.


The oil will show signs of corruption before a failure occurs and if these signs are recognized soon enough, the problem can be identified and rectified at the earliest. The oil should be clear when it is being used in the system. As the amount of oil in the system lowers, the heat rises and begins to burn the oil. The burnt oil will get darker and darker as the damage increases.


The refrigerant evaporates at a lower temperature and condenses at a higher pressure. Loss of the refrigerant usually occurs due to leaks in the hoses or other components of the AC system. As each ounce of refrigerant is lost, the compressor runs hotter and hotter. Finding the leaky spot in the system is the very first step to prevent refrigerant loss. Once the source of the leak has been identified and the old oil swapped for new, future problems may be averted.


The photos below are examples of the effects of refrigerant loss/overheating on the internal components of the AC compressor.


loss of refigerant charge    


Oil after extended use should be clear. In this particular example, the compressor had 150,000 miles when removed. As long as the system is operating normally, has a full refrigerant charge and is free of contamination, no oil degradation will occur.


loss of refigerant    


This example is from a compressor exposed to either partial loss of charge or high discharge pressures. Once the cause of high temperature is corrected the compressor and system should function normally.


loss of refigerant1    


Black oil results from extreme compressor overheating due to loss of refrigerant charge. Normally contamination in the form of metal bits will be found in black oil and it is critical that the system be flushed before installing the new compressor.


loss of refigerant2    


Disclaimer: This is not an official install or instructional guide and is not responsible for any damage or injury that can occur during these procedures.


Find Automotive Parts with an Industry-Leading Warranty at Buy Auto Parts!


Buy Auto Parts is the best place online to get car parts at unbeatable prices. We stock a wide range of OEM replacement and aftermarket parts for every make and model. To find the right part for your car, simply tell us your car's year, make and model. Your order will be shipped from the warehouse closest to your location. We offer free shipping for purchases over $99 in the continental United States. Our products have been throughly-tested to meet or exceed industry standards. You can reach us on our support line at or leave us an email at [email protected], if you need help in choosing your part. Please feel free to leave us an online review. We value your feedback!


"How To" Home  |  BuyAutoParts Home


Copyright © 2019 Buy Auto Parts. All rights reserved.


Click here for Mobile version