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A blown fuse. the bane of automotive electronics, is a common occurrence that undoubtedly happens if a driver spends enough time in an automobile. If the failure of a fuse causes the car stereo to stop working, no radio could be considered a crisis for most people. This guide helps vehicle owners identify a bad fuse, and it explains how to replace one. The guide provides a brief explanation of the purpose of fuses in vehicle electrical systems and how to determine if a fuse is bad. In addition, the guide focuses specifically on car stereo fuses and their location, which can be more difficult to find than standard vehicle fuse boxes. The tools necessary to properly diagnose a blown fuse as well as the tools that make fuse removal and installation easier are also discussed in this guide.
Fuses can be purchased at most gasoline stations, auto parts stores, electronics retailers, and department stores with an automotive department. Tools to assist in fuse diagnosis, removal, and installation can be bought from auto parts stores and tool stores featuring a broad assortment of electrical tools. Purchasing these items online from eBay is another option for buyers to consider.
Understanding the Function of a Fuse
It is important for anyone considering working with a vehicle’s electrical system to understand the function and purpose of a fuse. Fuses, in an automotive context, are meant to prevent a wiring circuit in a vehicle from drawing too much electricity and possibly overheating, melting, and starting a fire. When replacing a fuse, always make sure that the new fuse being installed matches the amperage rating of the fuse being replaced and meets the vehicle’s specifications. Fuses are labeled with a number that signifies the maximum amount of amperes (amps) of electricity they allow to flow through the circuit. If the amperage load is exceeded, the fuse fails.
Failure of a fuse is often called a "blown fuse." In this situation, the metal inside the fuse overheats and breaks, causing an open circuit. An open circuit stops the flow of electricity to protect the wiring and components in that circuit.
Determining If a Fuse Is Bad
The simplest way to determine if a fuse is bad is to remove the fuse from the fuse block or fuse
holder and examine it. A blown fuse has a gap in the wire that is housed in the center of the fuse’s body. Automotive fuses used in car stereo circuits come primarily in two types: a glass tube fuse or a blade fuse. Although these two types of fuses both perform the same function, they look quite different.
Glass Tube Fuses
Glass tube fuses, often referred to as "old-type fuses," have two silver-colored metal ends enclosing a glass tube that has the amperage-rated filament inside it. Generally, it is easy to determine if a glass tube fuse has failed because the internal filament will have a gap in it, often accompanied by a burn mark on the inside of the glass. Occasionally, glass tube fuses can appear to be intact yet still not function. In such cases, a separation of the filament from the metal end renders the glass tube fuse inoperable. It can also be hard to detect if a broken filament actually exists in glass tube fuses with extremely thin filaments.
Glass tube fuses have the amperage of the fuse stamped on one of the metal ends. When the amperage rating stamped in the metal has some wear, it can be hard to read the number. If it is not possible to properly identify the fuse’s rating, buy another fuse to be certain the proper circuit integrity is maintained.
Blade fuses are constructed with a plastic shell, and they have two metal blades sticking out of the bottom of the shell. The metal blades fit into the fuse box or fuse holder; these blades are attached to the filament that runs through the plastic shell of the fuse. The top of the fuse, opposite the protruding blades, has the amperage of the fuse stamped on it and highlighted with a color different from the plastic shell, which makes the fuse’s amperage rating easily identifiable. Also, on the top of the fuse’s shell are two small holes for testing the fuse’s integrity. The plastic shell is transparent to allow the filament to be viewed; as with the glass tube fuse, a broken filament means the fuse is bad. The plastic shell is also color coded to signify the amperage of the fuse. The following chart lists the various fuse colors and each one’s corresponding maximum ampere load.