Where to find the fuse box in your car, how to determine if you've got a blown fuse, and everything else you need to know about car fuses
Car problems can be really expensive and usually mean you are inconvenienced in some way or other. Some car problems are common and can be easily remedied at home, with blown fuses mostly being something you can manage yourself. For more serious issues you'll need to find a mechanic, but in all cases, the more you know about your car, the less time and money you waste getting issues sorted.
Problems relating to automotive fuses are relatively easy to figure out and fix yourself, so if you've found yourself with a faulty power window or inoperable headlights, take some time to read through our quick guide to fuses before spending an arm and a leg on diagnostics - it may be something you can do yourself.
Fuses are designed to protect the electrical wiring in your car by 'blowing' when there is too much current or a short-circuit in the electrical system. Technically, a fuse protects the electrical system by disconnecting the circuit if there is a dangerous level of current somewhere. And, when a fuse has blown, it's easy to track down and replace, restoring current to the system.
Though they are all designed with the purpose of protecting your car's electrical components, there are various types of car fuses depending on the type of car, where it was built, and its age. To help you identify what electrical fuses your car has, in the event that your car exhibits some electrical mishaps, here are the most common types of fuses used in cars new and old:
Knowing how to tell if a fuse in your car is blown and knowing how to change a fuse can save you plenty of time and money. So use this quick guide to understanding fuses and how they can blow to easily determine if that's the problem.
When an electrical component in your car draws a stronger current than what it was designed to handle, the fuse that that component is linked to may blow as a protective measure. When a fuse blows, it's a sign that there's a short circuit somewhere within your car's inner workings. This can happen due to a basic device malfunction such as a defective switch or faulty wires, but any kind of mechanical mishap with a motor or an electrical component can be the cause.
So if any of your power-operated features, such as the windows, seat-position controls, or side-view mirrors stop responding to input, it could be a sign that one of your car's fuses is blown. This can, however, extend to the powertrain and chassis electronics, driver-assistance technologies, safety systems, and other occupant features, too.
To check the fuse, you will need to locate the fuse box, identify the correct fuse for the system that has stopped working, and check if there is a fuse failure. Let's break it down into a step-by-step process.
Vehicle fuse boxes are typically located beneath the steering wheel column or within the engine bay of modern vehicles, but it really depends on the vehicle and the type of car fuses the box is housing. Whether your car is a heavy-duty truck like a Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD, a lightweight Kia Forte, or a small SUV, you should have relatively easy access to the box.
Modern vehicles typically have forty or more fuses grouped in one or two locations. You may have to check your owner's manual for the exact location of the fuse boxes. Some cars may have more than two boxes. The fuse box, which houses all of the car's fuses, is usually kept beneath the steering wheel within the lower section of the dashboard. Most mainstream vehicles today have two boxes, one in the cabin, and another located beneath the hood in the engine bay.
You'll need to determine what specific types of fuses are used in your car by referring to your car's user manual or the information sticker that is usually located within the car's fuse box. If you're unsure, a professional at the dealership can help or a reliable mechanic. Don't underestimate the usefulness of enthusiast forums online, however - these are a treasure trove for those wanting to do it themselves.
The point of a fuse is to help regulate circuits and prevent bigger problems by disconnecting when the current is too strong, and since all types of vehicles have electric components, all cars will have fuses. Electric cars, gas-fed cars, and even hydrogen cars have complicated electric circuitry which all require fuses.
No diagnostic tool or code scanner will be able to identify a blown fuse, but it can point you in the right direction by pointing out a fault in the electrical system. Read more on OBD scanners here. The only way to check if a fuse has blown is to check yourself (or have a professional do it).