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Orifice Tube Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

The average cost for an orifice tube replacement is between $66 and $90. Labor costs are estimated between $59 and $76 while parts are priced between $7 and $14. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
Note about price: The cost of this service or repair can vary by location, your vehicle's make and model, and even your engine type. Related repairs may also be needed. Talk with a RepairPal Certified shop to learn which repairs might be right for you.

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What is an Air Conditioning Orifice Tube?

Air conditioning systems must change the state of refrigerant during the air conditioning cycle, and these physical state changes are what causes the air conditioner to cool the vehicle. As the hot, high-pressure refrigerant from the compressor moves towards the evaporator, it must be cooled so the evaporator can cool the interior of the vehicle. This is accomplished with an orifice tube in some vehicles.

How does an Air Conditioning Orifice Tube work?

The orifice tube restricts the flow of the high pressure, hot liquid refrigerant, allowing it to spray out of the other side as a low temperature gas. This low temperature gas instantly cools the evaporator, causing the evaporator to remove heat from the vehicle at a rapid pace. The second job of the orifice tube is to filter the refrigerant for any caustic material that is flowing through the air conditioner. This prevents accelerated damage of the air conditioner system, and means the orifice tube will require replacement at some point.

What are the symptoms of a bad Air Conditioning Orifice Tube?

Since the orifice tube is manufactured to provide restriction and filter caustic materials from the refrigerant, naturally it will clog at some point. This will result in warm air from the vents, and the air conditioning on and off switch may blink on some models. This is because the compressor will be deactivated by request of the high pressure switch. As the compressor pumps more and more refrigerant into a clogged location, the pressure cannot escape. This means the pressure on the high pressure side of the air conditioner will be much too high, and the low pressure side will be far too low. The pressure will take a very long while to equalize once the system is turned off, and the air compressor may run again for several minutes before turning off again.

Can I drive with a bad Air Conditioning Orifice Tube?

Vehicles with a bad air conditioning orifice tube can be driven indefinitely, but the comfort and safety of passengers should be considered. In extremely hot climates such as deserts, not having an air conditioner in the vehicle could be considered a risk factor for children and seniors.

How often do Air Conditioning Orifice Tubes need replacement?

The orifice tube is likely the most commonly replaced air conditioning component. There is no way to know how long it will be in any given vehicle, and any time there is a service performed on the air conditioner it will likely be replaced due to its low cost and high failure rate. Anytime there are contaminates found in the air conditioning system, the orifice tube will be replaced as well.

How are Air Conditioning Orifice Tube issues diagnosed?

When the air conditioner is going through constant cycles, the orifice tube is one of the culprits on the list. Since the entire air conditioning system is inspected and tested as a whole, the technician will rely on pressure readings from the high and low pressure side of the air conditioning system to determine the likely cause of failure. If the high pressure side is very high after running the compressor, and the low pressure side is normal or too low, the technician will likely wait with the system off to see if the pressure equalizes across the two sides. If the pressure does not equalize, or upon opening the system contamination is found, the orifice tube is likely to be replaced.

How are Air Conditioning Orifice Tubes replaced?

Evacuating the air conditioning system is necessary when performing any repair which involves opening a refrigerant passage in the air conditioning system. The caveat to that being if the system has lost pressure due to a prolonged or large leak. Once the system is evacuated, the orifice tube will need to be removed by using specialized disconnect tools to remove the air conditioner lines. Replacing the orifice tube is a matter of pulling it out of the line, cleaning any contamination from the line, inserting the new orifice tube, refitting the lines, replacing any removed components and recharging the system for testing.

RepairPal Recommendations for Air Conditioning Orifice Tube issues

If the air conditioner is going through fast cycles, i.e. turning on and off rapidly, especially if the air from the vents never cools, it is recommended to leave the air conditioner off until servicing is possible. This will prevent extremely high pressures from developing in the high pressure side of the air conditioning system, and remove overload from the air conditioning compressor.

What to look out for when dealing with Air Conditioning Orifice Tube issues

Older vehicles were made with ozone-depleting, or non-environmental friendly refrigerants, and releasing any refrigerants into the atmosphere is illegal. Federal law requires contained evaporation and disposal of refrigerants, and this requires fairly expensive machinery/tooling. Federal law also states that the older types of refrigerant be replaced with a more environmentally friendly version when the air conditioner service is performed. This will likely require several components and seals to be replaced to ensure compatibility with the new refrigerant. Due to the nature of air conditioning systems, adding refrigerant is not advised without measuring the high pressure and low pressure side of the system simultaneously, as the pressures may not be affected on both sides of the system.

Can I replace the Air Conditioning Orifice Tube myself?

Air conditioner repair is seldom achievable at home, and will require expensive evacuation equipment, a manifold and gauge set, creating a vacuum in the system, and charging the system. Aside from the lack of equipment that most DIYers will face, there is a danger of harm to person, equipment, and the vehicle when repairs or diagnostics are performed incorrectly. When it comes to servicing the air conditioner, it is best left to the pros.

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