Understanding How an AC Accumulator and Receiver-Drier Works

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Understanding How an AC Accumulator and Receiver-Drier Works

On the outside, a vehicle's A/C system appears to be one simple unit. However, many parts go into making a vehicle's A/C system work properly. As a result, when the A/C system fails in any way, there are a number of components that may be responsible for the malfunction. Understanding the basics of how some of these parts work, such as the A/C accumulator or receiver-drier, helps consumers pinpoint a specific problem.

A/C Accumulator vs. A/C Receiver-Drier

A vehicle A/C system has either an A/C accumulator or an A/C receiver-drier. Both parts function similarly, but there are also a couple of key differences that distinguish these two components.

Functions of the A/C Accumulator and Receiver-Drier

Both the A/C accumulator and the A/C receiver-drier are responsible for trapping moisture and debris as the refrigerant moves through the A/C system to ultimately generate cool air. To do this, each part has a desiccant bag that stores the unwanted moisture and debris. Further, both the A/C accumulator and the A/C receiver-drier store excess refrigerant liquid so that the liquid does not enter and damage the A/C compressor. These components are also responsible for controlling and monitoring the amount of refrigerant that enters the A/C evaporator.

Differences Between the A/C Accumulator and Receiver-Drier

With an A/C accumulator inside an orifice tube A/C system, an A/C receiver-drier lives within an A/C expansion valve system. The two parts cannot be interchanged. This is partly because the accumulator is considerably larger than the receiver-drier and designed to connect to the evaporator outlet in the low-pressure section of the orifice tube A/C system. On the other hand, the A/C receiver-drier is a smaller component designed to fit into the plumbing between the condenser outlet and the expansion valve inlet in the high-pressure section of the A/C system.

The Inside of the A/C Accumulator and the A/C Receiver-Drier

From the exterior, the A/C accumulator and A/C receiver-drier both appear as sealed metal cans with inlet and outlet valves. However, in an accumulator, refrigerant enters the inlet valve from the evaporator and travels through the vapor pickup tube, which forms a U-shape within the component. Debris and moisture traps itself in two small desiccants on either side of the U-shaped tube and then liquid filters out through an opening at the bottom of the vapor pickup tube. The remaining gas exits the outlet valve to the compressor.

The receiver-drier has a similar internal system except that the refrigerant enters the inlet value from theA/C condenser and exits to the A/C expansion valve. Moreover, the vapor pickup tube is a straight line with the inlet valve at the bottom of the component and the outlet valve located at the top. Similar to the accumulator, the desiccant bag and filter are also near the bottom of the component within the vapor pickup tube, near where the refrigerant enters. This internal design difference is due in part to the receiver-drier's location within the plumbing of the A/C system.

Diagnosing Common Problems Associated with the A/C Accumulator and Receiver-Drier

A solid understanding of how these parts function helps consumers properly diagnose problems with their A/C system. It is important to recognize problems associated with these specific parts, as well as problems related to other A/C system components that affect the accumulator or receiver-drier.

Symptom

Possible Diagnosis

Possible Solution

Weak or no cold air coming out of ventilation system

Desiccant of the A/C accumulator or receiver-drier is full of moisture, causing the orifice tube or expansion valve to block refrigerant flow

Replace A/C accumulator or A/C receiver-drier

Rattling noise coming from A/C system

Debris and other particles have entered the compressor, which has worn it down

Replace A/C compressor

Replace A/C accumulator or A/C receiver-drier

Visible signs of leakage coming from A/C system

Debris and other particles have entered the compressor causing it to leak at the seals

Replace A/C compressor

Replace A/C accumulator or A/C receiver-drier

As this chart suggests, most mechanics recommend changing the A/C accumulator or receiver-drier when the A/C compressor needs replacing. Understanding the basic functions of parts like the A/C accumulator and A/C receiver-drier provides consumers the ability to speak knowledgeably about their vehicle's A/C system, as well as purchase proper replacement parts.

How to Buy an A/C Accumulator and Receiver-Drier on eBay

Whether you need an A/C accumulator or an A/C receiver-drier, eBay has you covered. eBay offers a variety of new and used parts to meet your needs, as well as a number of automotive deals to help you save money. Perhaps you are looking for an A/C accumulator made by the company AC Delco. Simply type " AC Delco A/C accumulator " into the keyword search and click the search button. First learning how the accumulator and receiver-drier work arms you with the knowledge you need to purchase the correct A/C parts.

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