Car Fuses Protect Your Electrical System Yet Are Often Overlooked
We’ve all experienced a blown fuse in our homes, leaving us stumbling through the dark in search of the fuse box. But you may not have had a similar opportunity to get acquainted with your car’s vast array of fuses. With modern cars relying heavily on electrical systems, car fuses became absolutely essential as a failsafe of sorts. If your understanding of fuses goes as far as flipping one in the other direction when your power goes out, you should know that automotive fuses are in place to shield your car’s sensitive wiring and circuitry. The protective design of fuses prevents short circuiting or electrical overloading. That’s not to say that devices in your car can’t meet the reaper at the hands of extreme electrical conditions. Rather, it means that the wiring (which would mean a much costlier and more difficult repair) will remain safe.
Locating Your Car Fuses
If you’ve never had any issues with your car’s fuses, chances are you’re not quite sure where to find them. In most models, your fuses will be found in two separate areas; a power distribution center box beneath the hood and a compartment somewhat beneath the steering wheel near the driver’s legs. The power distribution center houses a lot of heavy duty fuses that protect the electrical system of components nearer the engine, such as the engine control unit. The fuse box near the steering wheel houses lighter fuses linked to passenger and dash components.
The Average Fuse Design
An average fuse consists of a combination of a wire and a specially designed connector. The connector is actually composed of two separate blade connectors but they are jointly referred to as “the connector” in most cases. The conductor is fashioned from a metal with a lower melting point than the wire it is protecting. This is so that, in the event of a surge of amperage that exceeds the amount of the fuse, the metal will melt and effectively destroy the circuit, protecting the wiring in the process. The circuit will only begin to function again once the blown fuse is replaced.
The Importance of Proper Fuse Amperage
If you’ve seen your car fuses housed snugly in their power distribution center, you’ve likely noticed that each fuse is emblazoned with a number. This number is indicative of the maximum amperage the fuse is designed to protect. If you were to replace a blown fuse with one designated to protect a higher amperage than advised, wire damage would almost certainly be the result. Always replace a blown fuse with a new fuse that has the same amperage rating as its predecessor.
How to Recognize a Blown Fuse
So how do you know if one of your car fuses is blown? In most cases, simply looking at the fuse will give you the answer. The breakage between the two terminals will be a clear indicator. But if you are having trouble finding a broken fuse based on a visual inspection, there are other methods you can employ. When you open up the power distribution center box, you should be able to easily locate a pincer-like tool specifically designed for removing automotive fuses. Once you remove a fuse, your mechanic can run a continuity test.
A blown fuse may not be immediately apparent in functionality or it could completely knock your car out of commission until it’s replaced. Fortunately, blown car fuses are amongst the easiest and most affordable issues to fix among other automotive repairs. It doesn’t hurt to get to know your fuses and visually check on them periodically to make sure everything appears to be in working order.