Aaron Widmar
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A Basic Guide to Understanding & Replacing Car Fuses

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Photo: The News Wheel

If an electrical component suddenly isn’t working — such as the turn signals, air conditioning fan, or heated seat — check your car’s fuse box before driving to the car parts store or repair garage. Many of your car’s electrical functions run through a fuse box, much like the one in your house. And fixing a blown fuse is as easy as replacing a light bulb.

Even if you’re not an electrician or a mechanic, you can learn the basics of identifying and replacing blown car fuses.

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5 steps to fixing a blown vehicle fuse

This guide will walk you through locating, reading, and replacing fuses in your vehicle. For more information on your car’s fuses, read the owner’s manual.

1. Turn off the car

Before doing anything else, make sure the car engine and ignition are completely off and none of the electrical systems — like the radio or hazard lights — are running. You should use safety gloves to avoid electrocution.

2. Find the fuse box

Depending on your vehicle’s design, the fuse box could be under the dashboard, under the hood, in the trunk, or nestled somewhere else. It could even be split into multiple hubs throughout the vehicle. The fuse board is covered by a small hatch you’ll need to pop off. It might not be noticeable when you’re searching, so check the owner’s manual or search online for your particular model.

3. Read the car fuses

Under the panel, you’ll see a board connecting an array of wires, sockets, and tabs. None of them are named, but there is a way to read them. Each fuse is in a specific position on the grid. A diagram identifying what each fuse controls should be in your car’s owner’s manual or on the inside of the hatch you removed to access the panel. If you don’t understand what the abbreviations on the diagram mean, you can Google them.

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Car fuse box board replacement directions blown
Photo: The News Wheel

4. Identify the problem

Once you identify the potentially blown fuse (you won’t be able to tell for sure until after you remove it), use a fuse removal tool to carefully and correctly remove the suspected fuse. This tool is sometimes included with the car and stored in the fuse box, but you can also buy one online or at a local car parts store. If a fuse is blown, you’ll notice visible internal damage in it, like the inside of a burnt light bulb.

5. Replace the fuse

Once you identify the blown fuse, you’ll simply need to replace it with an identical, working one. Sometimes, the automaker is generous enough to include a couple of replacements in the fuse box for you to use, but you may have to buy a replacement (if you do, make sure you buy an identical unit from a reputable source). The replacement fuse should look exactly the same, including the color and number on it, which denotes its amperage. Use the tool to slot the new fuse into place and then test if it fixed the problem.

If you can’t figure out which fuse is blown — or if the cause may not be a fuse — take your car to a mechanic who can diagnose the problem for you.