A question about AC Condensers and Rock Damage on a New Car

Hello everyone,

I’ve run into a problem that I did not know existed until last week. The car is 2019 Hyundai Kona (still practically brand new, with only 1700 miles–only 1600 driven by myself). The AC was not working when I started using it seriously only a couple of weeks ago, so I took the car in to have it taken a look.

The dealership surprises me by claiming that 1) there’s a condenser leak 2) it’s apparently caused by external damage, which supposedly makes it not warranty coverable; 3) it’d cost $1300.

Now, it would be covered by insurance, or so it wouldn’t cost the whole amount, but I’m a bit bugged by the whole thing. You’d think that there’d be some obvious signs that the car was hit by something for there to be damage to the condenser. There is a ding on the license plate, but that’s nowhere near the condenser. They did not show me where the damage was, which had me become a bit suspicious, but the insurance appraiser did take pictures and she sent them to me when I asked for them, and where the leak is apparently nowhere near the ding, on the opposite side. of the car. So, at minimum, the leak seems to have nothing to do with the ding, I’d think.

I’ve done a fair amount of internet search and talked to some people, so the sense I have is that this is extremely rare–people have apparently heard that this can happen, but no one has actually run into anyone who had this happen to them (including some ppl in auto repair business). I don’t think this is a complete fabrication, but I can’t escape feeling that they are trying to pull one over on me. Is this just an instance when I’m insanely unlucky, or am I being taken for a ride? What kind of explanation would indicate that this is not an instance of the dealership trying to take unfair advantage of an unfortunate situation?

Car or truck throws up a pebble, pebble hits condenser, you got a leak. Rare, but not unheard of.

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… and… not covered by warranty…

Car is moving? Collision claim.
Sitting still? Comprehensive.

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Your condenser sits in front of the radiator. There should be damage to the front of a tube that they can point out to you. If the rock came off a truck, it is the truckers fault, if it was kicked up off the road by a car or truck it is a road hazard and covered by your collision. Given where they put the condenser, I am surprised it does not happen more often.


A rock hitting your windshield or condenser is not covered by collision insurance.

It’s covered by comprehensive insurance.

Comprehensive coverage on a car insurance policy may help pay to repair or replace your windshield if it’s cracked or shattered by a rock . Another coverage , called full glass coverage , may also be available to help protect you against the cost of fixing or replacing a windshield .


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Thank you all for the information. Looking through the internet, this seems rather common, but I had never come across this before, and very few people that I know even heard of this. What you’ve said pretty much sums up what I’ve learned about this over past couple of days. It does seem like I was just mightily unlucky in the current situation. :frowning:

You’re talking to the wrong people

AC condensers damaged by rocks is an extremely common phenomenon

Anybody in the auto repair business that told you that is a lowdown stinking liar

So I am curious. How common are these? Does anyone have numbers, by region, by the make and year of the car? Surely, someone must have some numbers on this if this were all that common. I have not heard of it nor have I met people who have experienced it themselves or know people who have (until last week). It may be that auto repair ppl that I talked to who said they don’t know it are lying, but I suppose that’s the nature of what they do.

Did you say on an auto forum site that has many good mechanics as members that auto repair people are liars ?
And why would anyone keep records of rock damage like this ?

Are you kidding?

You want statistics?

This is random event.

That means it’s unpredictable.

But I’ll tell you what! Work in auto repair field for many years. And you’ll find it happens a lot.

You were just unlucky.


So you’ve had at least two rocks kicked up into the front of your car.

So? Ok, it’s rare. So are jackpots at the casino but some people win them. Do you know anyone that has? I don’t.

The A/C was out. Now it’s fixed. Did they replace the part in question? If so, stop looking for ghosts…

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No, they have not fixed it. I’m still trying to get to the bottom of this. If the manufacturers have any sense of responsibility, they should be keeping track of the the numbers–they do for all sorts of auto issues. If the car repair people lie, then they lie. Sorry, this may be a site where car repair people congregate, but if they lie about this, who knows what else they lie about? If the people that I talked to lied about not having seen it themselves, then they lied. If they told the truth about not having seen it themselves, then the people who say it’s so common that everyone has had it happened to them are lying, aren’t they?

All you need to do is learn how to fix your own vehicle.

Until you do that, then you’re at the mercy of those you hire to fix your vehicle.


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It may depend on your region. The roads here are fairly clean, I only see stone damage to condensers once every 5 years on customers cars. One time about 25 years ago I replaced a condenser that had a bullet hole so that is less common of a problem.

One factor is the particular vehicle design, how the lower grill area protects against stone intrusion or if it welcomes it. Years ago there was a revised lower grill for a Dodge Caravan to provide better protection against stones but you won’t see that again, that would be a costly admission of a defective design.

I can understand your being skeptical with the dealers assessment but why don’t you trust the insurance appraiser’s inspection? Inspectors are not easy to con.

There is nothing to get to the bottom of. They are not going to fix it because it is damage , not warranty covered failure. And no one is going to keep track of something like this because most people would just have it fixed and move on even they and the mechanics might not be sure it was a rock.

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Do you believe that every area of this vast country has the same road conditions? Do you think it just might be possible that some areas might have higher incidence of rocks falling from trucks or kicked up from loose pavement or perhaps even have some unpaved roads? And just because you haven’t heard about it doesn’t mean it hasn’t or can’t happen where its extremely rare. The world isn’t binary logic…

You have got to be kidding about failure tracking. Yes, manfrs do keep track of failures. You can bet there’s a pareto chart at every one of them denoting the highest runners. But they aren’t going to divulge that information to anyone outside of the company.

The design attempts to minimize the potential for damage but it can’t eliminate it.

They do keep track of sales of every replacement part to be able to have a sufficient supply of replacement parts in the warehouses.

If a certain part proves to be vulnerable to damage they may make a design change but it doesn’t make sense to wait 3 years for this to happen.

Inventory consumption doesn’t indicate failure mode. Accidents damage lots of parts that need to be replaced. Doesn’t mean it was defective design related. That comes from service history records.

It’s probably because of my earlier comment . . . the one where I said anybody in the auto repair business telling him they’d never encountered ac condensers damaged by rocks were lowdown stinking liars

You’re overthinking this big time . . . in my opinion