Are any used cars known for reliable air conditioning?

When I Google this question, I get things like “new cars with coldest air conditioning”. When I Google “cars with reliable air compressor” they think I’m talking about tires.
Do I just have to assume that the most reliable cars also would have the most reliable air conditioning?

Look at something like Consumer Reports. They breakdown reliability by each component.

We’ve only had ONE AC failure on any vehicle we’ve owned in the past 40 years.

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Same here. The only failure was in a 1976 Ford Granada where the compressor failed at about 98,000 miles. Sold the car shortly afterwards.

No , you cannot make that assumption . Vehicle manufactures out source things like that but your chance of having a problem is not really that great.

Roll Royce some years back did not trust a UK manufacturer to supply reliable A/C units. Instead they contracted with Texas based firm well experienced in this field to custom manufacture their A/C units for them.

As well Rolls Royce used a modified Hydramatic transmission from Oldsmobile for years.

Never assume that every product from a company is of the same uniform quality.

I’ve bought new cars since 1971, and I’ve never had a problem with the A/C in any of them. In fact, none of them even needed to have the refrigerant recharged, even after as long as 11 years of use.

On the other hand, my brother’s first wife bought a '72 Barracuda, and its compressor self-destructed after ~1 year, but that car was total garbage, so I guess that the A/C problem wasn’t an aberration–for that model. So, my recommendation for the OP is to NOT buy a vintage Barracuda or the identical Dodge Challenger. With those exceptions, there are no models of which I am aware that have bad A/C systems.

My first car with AC was an 1989 bought in 1998 and so far no AC Failures. I keep my cars relatively for a long time.
I agree with the consumer report recommendation.
I also would say that if the AC is great but the rest of the car does not hold up well, it is still no good.

When I change my cars, I am always bitter about the shortcoming on my last car and would pay a lot of attention not to buy a new car with a similar issue. I usually end up with a car with another problem (ie going from road noise to uncomfortable seats/etc). I learn as I grow.

As you can see, most all cars have reliable a/c. One thing to avoid - never consider a car that ‘just needs a charge’ to the a/c. If it was that simple, the seller would have already done it. Walk away.


Additionally, a car that has had frontal collision damage is more likely to have problems with the A/C system. Even though I am not a supporter of Carfax, it might be helpful in trying to filter-out cars with collision damage.

CR has “Climate System” and 16 other systems that they rate, based on evidence from their surveys of car owners. That would include the AC components.

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I’d guess the most reliable widely sold econoboxes would also have the most reliable AC systems. Civic, Corolla, Camry, Accord, Fit, Yaris, M3, etc. My friend’s 15-20 year old Corolla never once had any AC problems. If the AC function is really important to you – like you live in New Orleans or something – I’d tend to lean toward a slightly larger car with a more powerful V6 engine than a smaller car with a less powerful 4-banger. As far as a specific make/model/yr the Consumer Reports idea above is a good one.

Oh come on George . Our 2018 Ford Fiesta handles the air conditioner just fine while still getting 32 to 38 MPG in combined driving.


Yeah, any modern 4 cylinder can handle a/c, no problem. And good luck finding a V6, they’ve mostly been replaced by turbo 4s.

My 2002 Camry was still blowing 41*+/- when I got rid of it at 17 yrs. old and 201k miles.

AC was an option in my 73 Vega. The compressor was literally 1/5th the size of the engine…and when you kicked on the AC it really bogged down the engine. A significant decrease in performance and gas mileage.


I scanned over CR’s ratings of Climate Systems in their April 2019 issue. The only brands that are consistently, across years and models, better or much better than average reliability are Toyota and Lexus


Thank you!

I rented a small car, a Chevy Aveo, a few years ago and had that same experience, turn on the AC and the engine performance suffered very noticeably. That’s something the buyer should test during a test drive when deciding which engine option to get.

I’m amazed that happened with todays AC. They are significantly smaller and more efficient then they were 40 years ago.

You’re not making an entirely valid comparison, George . . . at least not in my opinion

The AC compressors in 1973 were for the most part HUGE

Not so when the Chevy Aveo was built