Replacement of AC Condenser

Hi all,
My A/C recently stopped working on my 2002 RSX type s. I took the car into the dealership and they told me that my A/C condenser had a big
hole in it and that it would need to be replaced. They tell me the part will cost over $1,000, and they'll presumably charge me even more to install it.
I called the "customer relations" line and they told me that this happens often and that it was most likely caused by a rock or something flying up from the road. I have no idea when this might have happened, but the rep said that you might not know if it had happened. I asked her if there would have been some fluid dripping and she said she didn't know. She compared it to a rock flying up and chipping the windshield, but I would have thought that the condenser should be a lot more sturdy than a glass window! Shouldn't it?
The car is 5-6 years old and has under 100k on it. Is this really a routine situation to have happen with this kind of vehicle? I'm a bit frustrated with the situation.
Andrew
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I'd check around on parts prices -- for example, here is a replacement condensor for $99.00 Your Wishlist Shopping Cart (0) Contact Us Your AccountPamsAuto.com Home Categories Manufacturers Customer Service
You could probably find any decent shop that works on ac to replace it and recharge the system. I suspect Acura dealers are rather like Lexus dealers in high priced repairs and service. You might try a Honda dealer for a quote and it might be cheaper.
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The price will be the same. For example, a condenser for a Toyota Tercel is $1,400.
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Years ago when I was overseas in the UK, we had a Datsun 210 where I had the same problem. Not hard to replace and the part was cheap from the States via the APO. The problem was finding someone who had the capability the evac the system and recharge since ac in the UK in the early 80s was generally only found in very expensive motorcars.
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This was actually a USDM 210, not an EUDM Sunny? 210 was a Canada/US name.

Does it ever get hot enough in the UK to need A/C? Other than those two days in July, I mean...
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inWashington D.C. at the time and selling the Datsun really was not a good option -- we had to sell an 810 at the time. The military would only ship one car -- so we picked up a 1600cc Mazda over there -- with a choke no less. You may not know, moving in the military always cost you like having to buy new appliances and dump possessions because of shipping weight limits by grade. Never regretted my service though and would do it again. Our 4 years in the UK was a most enjoyable tour.

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Yup.
You would only know when you went to run the A/C and found it did not work.

At point of puncture there will be some evidence of oil.

No. It's just thin aluminum.
A tip: Don't tailgate.

It's routine, yes.
You may be able to obtain a replacement OEM condenser from a wrecking yard. This would be FAR cheaper than new OEM or aftermarket.
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If you're handy, you can do most of the work yourself and save a bundle. If you're not, you can still buy the parts online and bring them to a local shop for installation and still save big. There is lots of information and resources on the interent.
First, buy the condensor here:
http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1379011,parttype,6708,partGroup ,24
They have them for $108 or $120. You should probably replace the receiver/dryer at the same time They're cheap. Here it is for $12:
http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1379011,parttype,6972,partGroup ,24
I've used RockAuto on several occasions and never had a problem. If you prefer, you can get an OEM part for $219 here: http://www.oemacuraparts.com/partlocator/index.cfm ? action=getJointLocator&siteid!4055&chapter=&sectionids=9,0&groupid10000&subgroupid`303&make=1&model=RSX&year 02&catalogid=1 &displayCatalogid=0
Buy a manual. Even if that costs you another $50 it's worth it. Here's one online for $9.95: http://www.tradebit.com/filedetail.php/3068052 - Misc. Don't know if it's any good, never used it.
I've never done it on this particular car, but usually, removing and replacing the condensor and the receiver dryer is no big deal . You'll probably need some O-rings also. As I say, check the manual. You may have to remove some facia pieces to get at the condensor. The first hard step, removing the refrigerant has alreay been taken care of by the rock. Another hard step, flushing the system is probably not needed since there is no reason to suspect contamination. That usually occurs with an internal compressor breakdown. You will have to have the system evacuated, more on that later.
Remove and replace the old condensor and receiver/dryer per the manual. Shouldn't be any more difficult than home plumbing work. Then take the car to a local shop that does a/c. You can do the rest yourself, but it requires a lot of specialized tools which aren't worth it for one time use and from this point forward, the work gets a lot more technical. Have the shop evacuate the sytem. This is done with a vacuum pump and is necessary to get rid of any mosture that has entered your system. Do not skip this step or your system will soon die. Then have the shop recharge with the appropriate refridgerent and oil. Your done. My guess is the shop will charge you about $100-150. Not counting your own labor, you should be able to do the whole deal, with OEM parts if your want, for well under $500. Use the RockAuto premium part and you'll save another $100.
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andrew.barg wrote:

Very common on just about every type of modern vehicle, unfortunately. The condenser is thin aluminum with high internal pressures and is directly exposed to the air stream at the front of the car. Damage is very common. It would be nice if automakers mounted some kind of protection screen in front of them, but I've never seen it done.
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Wonder if it could be repaired - welded or brazed the line?
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