Changing a Fuse

Fuses seem to break all the time, but they're designed to. Huh? When when one circuit has too much electricity flowing through it, the fuse blows to prevent serious damage and even fire.

Fuses are inexpensive and easy to replace. You can store extra fuses in your vehicle's fuse panel. If your fuse panel doesn't have a storage space, the second best place to keep such tiny parts is in your glove compartment or a special compartment in your toolbox.

Step-by-Step: How to Change a Fuse

Locate the Fuse Panel

Your owner's manual will tell you where your vehicle's fuse panel is. Most models situate the fuse panel on the driver's side of the dashboard and under the steering wheel, or in the engine compartment, but location varies from vehicle to vehicle. Other are found in the front dash door jambs or in the glove box.

Remove the fuse panel's cover; you'll see several different color-coded fuses plugged in. These colors, along with the numbers stamped on the fuses, indicate different amperage ratings. Now, turn the fuse panel cover over to see a helpful fuse diagram. This diagram shows you which fuse works with which electrical component.

Remove the Blown Fuse

Before you can change a fuse, you must find the faulty one. It will have a broken filament (the thin strip of metal inside) or will be black inside. Some vehicles come with special "pullers" to remove fuses, but tweezers work just as well. You can also use your trusty fingers. Just make sure you carefully remove and replace the fuses until you find the culprit.

Note that the vehicle's electrical problems may need a mechanic's attention if none of the fuses look blown, or if the fuse immediately blows again.

Replace the Fuse

Replace the blown fuse with a new fuse of the same amperage. Use your owner's manual, the fuse panel diagram, and the numbered, color-coded fuses themselves to help you determine the correct amperage. If you use the wrong amperage, you could cause much worse damage to your vehicle than just a blown fuse.

Once you have located a fuse of the right amperage, place it into the correct slot. Push it down with your finger to ensure it's completely installed, and then replace the fuse panel's cover.

Remember, if you don't have a spare fuse, you can always temporarily use the fuse of another less-used electrical component―as long as the amperage is correct. Consider using the fuse for your cigarette lighter, the radio, or the back window heater.

Check the Circuit

Once the fuse is replaced and the panel is covered, turn your vehicle's ignition and check to see if the troubled circuit is working properly. If it's working correctly, chances are you just had a temporary overload of electricity that caused the fuse to blow. If this is the case, then you just solved the problem.

However, if the circuit doesn't work, or it does work but only briefly before it needs to be replaced again, your vehicle's electrical problems go beyond just a blown fuse. It's best to see a mechanic at this point.

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