During the course of ownership of a car, there’s a strong chance that you will “blow a fuse.” You’ll know when this happens because some device or component in your car won’t work. When this happens, it isn’t a crisis, it just means that an electric component in your car is drawing too much power and for safety, a fuse stops the flow of current. Engineers design cars to do this to prevent overheating and potential fires.
How do you know if a fuse has blown, you may wonder. Most likely something will simply stop working. For example, it could be the backup lights, the turn signals, or the radio. Whatever the case, if a fuse blows, the device in question won’t work. The solution, of course, is to replace the fuse.
In general, most vehicles on the road have two types of fuses. Older cars have glass, cylinder-shaped fuses with stainless steel caps on the ends. These types of fuses were very common a few decades ago and are rare now in cars. (You will still see them in a lot of other types of electronic equipment, though.) Today’s cars have a very different style of fuse that uses a colored plastic housing with the fusible link encased in the housing.
If you suspect a fuse might be the culprit when something stops working, the first step is to locate the faulty fuse. Your owner’s manual will help locate the fuse box. Once you’ve located it, you have to determine which fuse (the fuse number) needs to be removed for inspection. Say, for example, the interior lights don’t illuminate. The owner’s manual will usually have a chart which will show you which fuse protects the interior lights. Many cars also have a label inside the top of the fuse box cover that will identify the fuses also.
Once the fuse is identified and removed, you need to determine if it has failed. This is usually quite easy. For the older glass fuses as well as the new plastic ones, if the metal link inside the fuse is separated, the fuse is “blown.” If not, then it’s still good and can be reinstalled.
If the fuse is blown, the next step is finding a proper replacement. Some cars come with a supply of spares; otherwise you’ll need to make a quick trip to the auto parts store. The most critical element to replacing a fuse is using the same amperage rating as the blown one. If you look at the top of the fuse, you will see a number. This is the fuse’s Amperage Rating. You want to replace a blown fuse with one of the same rating.
So, once you determine the fuse is blown and procure a suitable replacement, it’s time to reinstall the new one. This is the easiest part although sometimes a fuse puller (usually provided in the fuse box) will help you. Put in the new fuse, start the car and see if the component functions. If it doesn’t you may have other issues and it might be best to have a certified mechanic look at it.
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