What Makes Car Fuses Blow?

by Herbert Harris

It's generally good when a car fuse blows because in most cases it prevents something more serious (expensive) from occurring. Compared to all other automobile parts, a fuse is dirt cheap. The failure of a fuse does, however, necessitate investigation into the cause so that the problem can be corrected.

Function

Ceramic Fuse

The fuses installed in a car perform the same type of function as fuses installed in some homes and most electrical and electronic devices. When the current flowing through the fuse exceeds the fuse's current rating, the element in the fuse melts and breaks the circuit to discontinue current flow. When this happens, it means that whatever the accessory -- radio, wipers, horn -- the fuse is inline without allowing too much current to flow. The cause of this excess current should be immediately identified and corrected.

Causes

Faulty wiring or defective wiper motors can cause excessive current flow, resulting in a blown fuse. Defective switches may cause short circuits. Wipers frozen under ice can cause a blown fuse by impeding wiper movement. Other electrical components, such as heating and cooling blower motors, power seats, electric fuel pumps or air conditioner can all cause fuses to blow. In many cases a blown motor circuit fuse may indicate a shorted motor.

What To Do When Car Fuses Blow

When troubleshooting leads to the confirmation of a blown fuse, the first thing to do is replace the fuse, making sure to exactly match amp rating. If this corrects the situation it may be the result of an intermittent power surge possibly caused by a bare wire, which should be located and repaired. If the failure is still present, do a thorough check of the wiring for loose connections in the failing circuit. Pay attention also to the battery lead attached to the motor and ensure a secure connection.

How To Replace a Car Fuse

Glass-encased Fuses

Replacing a blown car fuse is a fairly simple procedure. Most cars have small plastic-encased fuses that push straight in and pull straight out. Use needle-nosed pliers or small tweezers-like grippers made for this task. Replace the blown fuse with one of identical amp rating. Plastic fuses are color-coded so the replacement should be the same color. Glass fuse amp ratings are distinguished by differences in the length of the fuse. They are removed by lifting one end at a time. Discard blown fuses and obtain a new spare.

Two-Dollar Fuse or $200 Repair Bill

Fuses cost very little.

Some readers may have seen a "60 Minutes" program from a generation ago where a car was rigged with a simple malfunction and taken to several repair locations. Estimates for the repair varied over an incredible range for something that was just a few dollars to repair. Instances like this still happen each day. So it would be most prudent to check and replace fuses yourself before taking your car in for repairs. Car fuses are very inexpensive.

About the Author

Herbert Harris is a retired IT professional who does article marketing and works from home. He has served at the Atlantic Undersea Test And Evaluation Center, a U.S. Navy test range located at Andros Island, Bahamas, and Ascension Island's U.S.A.F. test range.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera car fuses image by Witold Krasowski from Fotolia.com