What Is The Difference Between Radiator And Condenser In Your Volvo A/C System?

When talking about your Volvo A/C system, you will hear about radiators and condensers. Other than the obvious that you need both to have the car A/C running, what else must you be aware of about them? More importantly, what is the difference between the two, and how important is it to keep them working at their bests? 

How Is a Radiator the Same with a Condenser?

Volvo radiators and condensers essentially do the same thing. They both remove heat in order to keep the environment inside the vehicle cool. The radiator is one of the key components of the engine’s cooling system. The condenser, on the other hand, is an essential part of the air conditioning system. They are similar in purpose but they also have their differences.

Auto-Cooling System vs Air Conditioning System

Thinking about the car cooling process, one can easily assume that it is done in a single system and further think that a condenser is the same with a radiator. Actually, this is not the case. The cabin temperature is regulated by the condenser in the car’s air conditioning system. The engine temperature, in contrast, is regulated by the radiator as the main component of the auto-cooling system.


The car air conditioning system uses refrigerant to blow a cool air. Refrigerant is in a gas form and will need to form into liquid in order to cool the air. The condenser is the one responsible to have this phase change to occur. This is why once your Volvo A/C system seems faulty; the condenser is one of the things that are immediately checked. Suffice to say, you will need to have a well-maintained condenser to maintain a working air conditioning unit.


Although it is expected to have a hot engine while driving your car, it needs to maintain optimal temperatures in order not to overheat and get damaged. The radiator basically takes care of the engine’s temperature and works with a liquid coolant. Instead of having a phase change, it serves as a heat exchanger wherein the coolant absorbs heat from the engine and the radiator removes the heat from the coolant. It is through this cycle that the engine is able to work under a safe temperature range.

Keeping Both Systems in Check

Now that you are aware of the differences between a condenser and radiator, it is essential that you take precautionary measures to keep them operational. It is recommended that you constantly check the Volvo A/C system for any leaks. Refrigerant is the blood of your car’s A/C system and a leak could be the culprit for a warm cabin temperature. The auto-cooling system must also be inspected for proper operation and pressure. Radiator belts and hoses play important roles with a working radiator so they too must be checked.

Nothing is more uncomfortable than driving on a hot day and you have a faulty car A/C. If any of these things are confusing on your end, it is best that you contact a mechanic to check the car’s cooling systems for you.