Do you have an evaporator core leak on your Dodge Ram, and you want to know what you can do about it? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.
Unfortunately, the only permanent fix for this is to replace the evaporator core. You can try to seal the leak, but there is a chance that you will have the same problem. A leak that is within the fins, on the other hand, will make sealing impossible.
Replacing the evaporator coil requires the removal of many components of your Ram that make it a good candidate for bringing it to a mechanic or your dealer. However, if you’re up to the task and you’re handy with tools, we have the steps below on how to DIY the replacement.
What is an evaporator core?
The evaporator core inside your Ram is the same as the evaporator coil in a regular home air conditioner. It looks like a small radiator buried under the dashboard, close to the firewall of your Ram.
It is the part of your vehicle’s air conditioner that is responsible for making cold air inside the passenger cabin.
The evaporator core is where the refrigerant passes through while in liquid form. A leak in the evaporator core can cause liquid refrigerant to get to the adjacent components of your Ram.
How does an evaporator core work?
Liquid refrigerant passes inside the tubes of the evaporator core that has thin fins. A blower fan pushes the warm air through the fins of the evaporator core.
The evaporator core then absorbs heat from the passing air, cooling it. The same flow of air sends the cold air back into the passenger cabin.
Once the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air, it turns into its gaseous form—this is why it is called an evaporator. The gaseous refrigerant then moves to the condenser, where the heat from the refrigerant is released into the atmosphere.
Once the heat leaves the refrigerant, it goes back to its liquid form and moves back into the evaporator and the cycle goes on.
How to tell if the evaporator core has a leak?
The two most common signs of a leaking evaporator core are a weak flow of cold air into the passenger cabin and a sweet aroma.
A leak in the evaporator core will cause it to become less and less effective in absorbing heat as it loses refrigerant. The lower the refrigerant level, the more ineffective the cooling system will become. Hence, the flow of cold air into the passenger cabin will become weak as a result.
The sweet aroma comes from the leaking refrigerant because it is its natural smell. It is possible to notice this smell even with the AC off. You might also notice that the smell will become more intense when you turn on the AC or when you increase the AC level.
Another symptom is a failure of the compressor to activate. This happens when the refrigerant level is already too low.
Once you lose too much refrigerant, the pressure will drop. If the pressure gets too low, the compressor will no longer activate to circulate the refrigerant around the system and to the evaporator core.
Causes Of Evaporator Core Leaks
Organic debris like leaves that make it to the evaporator will decompose and the process of decomposition leads to corrosion. Corrosion will eventually lead to weakness in the structure of the evaporator core which will lead to a leak.
Clogging of the tubes that make up the evaporator core can also lead to a leak because of uneven pressure.
How to replace the evaporator coil in Dodge Ram?
The instructions below assume that you have a replacement evaporator core ready to install. It also assumes that you are sure that the leak in your Ram’s AC system is coming from the evaporator core.
If you are not yet sure, you can have the leak verified by a mechanic. Then you can buy the replacement evaporator core and do the task of replacing it yourself.
Preparing The Vehicle
- Park your Ram on even ground with sufficient lighting.
- Turn off the engine and open the hood.
- Disconnect the negative terminal of the battery.
Draining The Refrigerant
Draining the refrigerant from your car AC requires a vacuum pump. Some places have a vacuum pump that you can rent if you don’t have one.
Alternatively, you can bring your Dodge Ram to a dealer and ask them to drain your Ram of its coolant.
- Locate the low-pressure service hose of your Ram. It is usually near the compressor, and it will have a black cap with an “L” or an “LP” on it.
- Connect the end of the vacuum hose to the low-pressure tube or port.
- Turn on the vacuum pump.
- Wait until the pressure gauge indicates that the AC has reached 0 PSI.
- Disconnect the vacuum hose from your Ram.
VIVOHOME rotary vane air vacuum pump is available on Amazon through this link.
Getting To The Evaporator Core
- Remove the airbox and the large hose that goes to it.
- Remove the engine cover.
- Uninstall the A-pillars from inside the truck, including the side covers of the dashboard. There is a cover on these that you can pop open with a flathead screwdriver to expose the screw inside. Do this for both the driver’s and passenger’s side of your Ram.
- Remove the top and bottom cover of the steering wheel. Disconnect all wiring connectors on the steering column. Take a picture before disconnecting any of the wires so that you would know where each wire goes when it is time to put it all back.
- Disconnect the steering column from the steering shaft. Never turn the steering wheel while it is disconnected from the steering shaft. Turning it can break the clock spring. Place the steering column somewhere it wouldn’t move or turn to keep the clock springs in place and safe.
- Uninstall the driver’s seat.
- Uninstall the center console.
- Remove the mounting bolts that keep the instrument panel and dashboard in place. Remove the dashboard and set it aside.
Removing The Evaporator Core
- The AC assembly is hidden behind the dashboard. It looks like a large plastic case. You will find the evaporator core inside the plastic case. It is right beside the blower.
- Disconnect the refrigerant lines from the side of the engine.
- Remove the AC assembly and place it where you can disassemble part of it to get to the evaporator core.
- Disconnect the wires.
- Disconnect the side with the blower, and unscrew it from the main assembly. Once you remove part of the assembly with the blower, the evaporator core will be inside.
- Remove the old evaporator core. Carefully remove the expansion valve from the old evaporator core.
- Reattach the expansion valve to the new evaporator core before installing it where you took the old evaporator core.
- Reverse everything you’ve done to put everything back. Do not turn on your AC yet.
- Get your Ram recharged with refrigerant. Test your AC.
How do I clean a clogged evaporator core?
You can access the evaporator core through the glovebox in some Ram models.
If you can access your evaporator core through the glovebox, reach into it with an evaporator core spray cleaner. Leave it for a few seconds, then rinse it.
Use another sprayer filled with water to rinse it. Then, use a blower to dry the evaporator core after rinsing.
You do not need to rinse the evaporator core if you use a no-rinse evaporator core cleaner.
If you cannot reach the evaporator core through the glovebox, you will have to get to it through the steps above to clean it.
Nu-Calgon Evaporator Foam no-rinse evaporator coil cleaner is available on Amazon through this link.
LiBa spray bottles are available on Amazon through this link.
The best fix for a leaking evaporator core is to replace it. Any attempt to seal the leak is rarely effective because the leak can be between the fins that cannot be accessed without damaging the fins, which renders the evaporator core useless.
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