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how to check and replace fuses in your vehicle

Updated on May 3, 2012

But the technician just replaced a fuse !

Have you ever taken your car to a repair shop to discover that the technician only had to replace a blown fuse, and charged you a couple your well and hard earned tens or hundreds of dollars? Well, I guess this is very common.

If you have a few minutes to go trough a few easy tests, you might be able to save some money in repairs. It is very common to suddenly find our radio totally dead (no sound and no display). Other items like "blinker lights", "head lamps", "courtesy lamps", "electric seats", etc. they all must have a protection fuse. Very often just testing an replacing these fixes the problem.

Generally, these fuses are located somewhere underneath the dashboard in a box (fuse box). To find it just consult your vehicles manual. You will need some simple tools, a test lamp or a voltmeter.

After having located the "fuse box", remove its cover following the vehicles manual instructions carefully. This will expose the top of the fuses where you will generally see two test points on each of them. Before running any tests make sure that the engine is off, that the transmission is in the parking position and that the parking brake is on.

Testing each fuse is very simple: they must show +12 volts (if you are using a voltmeter) on both sides of the fuse or the test lamp will shine when you test each of the two test points on every fuse. If you notice only one side of a fuse shows +12 volts you should replace it with one of same rating in amps. This rating is generally printed on top of the fuse, or replace it with one of the same color (manufacturers use different color for each value in amps).

Some fuses donĀ“t show voltage on any of its test points until the ignition key cylinder is in the "accessory" position. For testing these fuses you must first turn the key to the "acc" position.

To replace a fuse you can use a plastic tool that generally is attached to the "fuse box cover". This little tool is inserted over the fuse and it locks on it so that you can pull it out. You will see into it and will notice that the metal bridge inside is blown. Very important: if after replacing the fuse (always one of same rating) it blows off again, you must not try to replace it with one of grater rating (that is dangerous and might cause serious damage to your vehicle).

Replacing a blown fuse fixes many problems and saves you some money, except in the cases when they blow off every time you replace them. When that happens you know that the problem is more complicated, and you must then take your vehicle to qualified a technician or repair shop. In this way you can avoid spending unnecessary well earned money in simple repairs.

must show +12 v
must show +12 v
must also show +12 v
must also show +12 v
test clip must be on clean metal "chasis ground"
test clip must be on clean metal "chasis ground"


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    • profile image

      Bstwnty5 3 years ago

      can i just replace them all to prevent future problems.

    • profile image

      Raquelisima 5 years ago

      Yes you were right, it was just the light bulb that needed changing. Thanks again for your awesome advice.

    • stark lichterman profile image

      stark lichterman 5 years ago

      Its great to know that this information might in fact save you some money. Let me add some extra advice. In some vehicles left and right blinker ligts share the same fuse. This means that in those cases it could be the actual blinker light that is damaged, if you lost only one of them. In other vehicles they use separate bliker fuses which are easily replaceble in most cases. Also remember to apply every precaution possible to avoid any risk of accidents. Make sure to only work with the engine off, the parking brake on, and only after the engine has cooled down (if working inside the hood).

    • profile image

      Raquelisima 5 years ago from Dallas, TX, USA

      Wow! Thanks for this info. A blinker light on my car just went out and I will check this first before taking it into a shop.