Car Fuse Problems? 7 Most Common Problems & Solutions

Your car has dozens of little protectors known as fuses or fusible links for every electrical circuit. These protectors prevent damage to the components receiving power in the circuits and prevent the circuits from overloading with too much power.

Fuses can burn out and prevent the systems they protect from working, which can be frustrating to diagnose and repair.

We’ve gathered the most common problems related to fuses, and the solutions to diagnose and repair the issues. These should cover the majority of what you’ll face with car ownership.

#1 – The Radio Stops Working

You expect the radio to work when you get in your car and turn the key. The radio won’t come on when you touch the power button, and if the radio lights up it may not play any sound.

This can be because you have a blown fuse preventing power from reaching the radio or an amplifier in the sound system of your car.

How to Fix It

If the original factory radio stops working, you will need to determine where the fuses are for the circuits controlling power to the radio and audio equipment.

Replacing a car fuse and relay

Most likely the radio fuse is in the main internal fuse box, which can be under the dashboard, on the end between the dash and the door, or in a footwell area.

You may need to use your factory owner’s manual to determine where the fuse box is located. The fuse box and/or owner’s manual will have a diagram showing the exact location of the radio fuse.

You can remove the fuse and visually inspect the filament inside to see if it is blown. A blown fuse will prevent the distribution of power to the circuit. If that fuse is still in good condition, you may need to check additional fuses in that fuse box or the remaining fuse location in the car to find the blown fuse.

Aftermarket audio components can add extra fuses that must be checked when the audio stops working. Some aftermarket radio units have an additional fuse on the back of the unit that you may need to check. It requires removing the radio to inspect the fuse.

Some head units may have an additional in-line fuse in the wiring harness that can blow and prevent power from reaching the unit.

Aftermarket amplifiers may have fuses installed near the battery and may have a fuse located near the input and output connections. It may be quite a hunt to find the damaged fuse and replace it if it is blown.

#2 – Your Power Windows Stop Working

Imagine pushing the down button on your window switch and the window doesn’t move. It should roll down at the push of a button, but it doesn’t budge. You probably have a fuse problem.

How to Fix It

Many things can cause a fuse to blow, such as a worn power window motor that draws more amperage than the fuse is rated for.

A damaged wire from chafing and grounding out on a metal bracket will also blow a fuse. If the power windows stop working suddenly, open the fuse box cover and check the fuse for the power windows.

The windows may be combined with other accessories on the electrical diagrams, so the owner’s manual may be needed to determine which fuse or fuses could be the culprit. Once you find the fuse, replace it with a new one of equal amperage.

#3 – Your Lights Stop Working

There are multiple circuits in your car that power the lights. Headlights, taillights, interior lights, brake lights, turn signals, etc. They can be powered by the same circuit or on different branches.

When one light stops working, it’s usually a bulb. When multiple lights won’t illuminate, it’s usually a fuse problem.

How to Fix It

Lighting in the interior cabin has fuses inside the car. They are either in the dashboard or the passenger foot well.

Headlights, taillights, and other exterior lighting are usually fuse-protected in the engine bay in a separate fuse box. These are weather-protected, so they usually have a sealed cover that needs to be removed, or the box is hidden to protect the wiring and fuses from exposure. You can trace the wire harness to the box if it’s hidden out of plain sight.

The fuse box should have a diagram to identify which fuse should be checked. If all fuses are good, it may be a fusible link internal to the wiring harness that has blown and stopped the lights from working.

You can use a multimeter to check for continuity on the wiring harness and check for voltage on each of the suspected fuses to determine which circuit doesn’t have power.

#4 – Your Heater And Air Conditioning Fan Stops Working

The fan that circulates air inside the passenger cabin of your car is protected by a fuse. The fuse distributes power to a relay, and when the electrical motor that turns the fan ages it can overload the fuse-protected circuit.

How to Fix It

The fuse will blow if the circuit is overloaded by the blower motor fan.

The relay supplies higher power when the fan is turned on high, but always check the fuses first as they are the most likely reason the fan doesn’t work.

If you replace the fuse and it doesn’t take long for it to blow again, the motor could be drawing more power than the fuse is rated for. The motor could be nearing the end of its useful life, or it could have an obstruction causing it to overload the circuit.

Make sure a mouse hasn’t built a nest in the blower motor housing that is preventing the fan from turning properly. Rodents can build a nest overnight in your car.

Read here for solutions to car relay problems.

#5 – Your Power Outlets Won’t Charge Your Accessories

Plugging in your accessories like a cell phone charger shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. When that familiar ding doesn’t sound, the circuit for the power outlet may be dead due to a blown fuse.

How to Fix It

The power outlets in your car have a low amperage rating to protect your sensitive devices like tablets and cell phones. That means the fuses can blow easily if you stack multiple accessories on the circuit and try to charge everything at the same time.

Find the fuse in the fuse box inside the passenger cabin, and only charge one or two items at once in the future.

#6 – The Wipers Won’t Cycle To Clean Your Windows

You want to see clearly out of every window, and the front windshield has one or two wipers that clear the glass. You may also have a rear window wiper option that functions in the same manner.

If they stop working, the fuse may have been overloaded and blown.

How to Fix It

Newer cars have a power-sensing feature built into the circuit that will prevent the fuse from blowing. Older cars may not have that feature, and frozen or stuck wipers could continuously attempt to cycle until the fuse is overloaded.

The fuse is easy to replace with a new one of the same amperage, but you may need to get in the habit of cleaning the windows before cycling the wipers.

#7 – Your Car Was In A Major Accident

You wouldn’t think a major accident would blow fuses, but a jarring impact can disable circuits as the fuses protect the components receiving power.

How to Fix It

If you’re in a major accident, the last thing on your mind is a blown fuse. You won’t find the blown fuse or realize there is a problem with the power circuit until the car is fixed and you start testing to ensure everything functions correctly.

Every button should be pushed and every function should be checked to find blown fuses.

If a wiring harness was damaged in the accident, you may have multiple fuses that have blown and they will indicate a larger problem needs to be addressed before the car will function 100%.

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