Con-fused? What To Do When Your Car Blows A Fuse

At some point, you’ve probably heard someone mention that their car has ‘blown a fuse’, the reasons why can often be mystifying. This week we’ll break down what fuses do in a car and how you can best deal with a blown fuse.

Fuses are an integral part of a car’s electrical system, and help protect the various electrical components fitted to your car. With cars becoming ever more complex electrically, however, the number of fuses used has also increased. With this has come more confusion over which fuse could have blown and why.

Fuses – What Do They Do And What To Do If They Fail

  • How does a fuse work?
    The main part of a fuse is a thin wire or metal strip designed to melt at an electrical current draw slightly over the standard draw of the electrical component(s) and wiring it is protecting. When this metal strip or wire melts, it does so very quickly, which is why you can see them flash and pop, hence the term ‘blown’.
  • How do I know a fuse has blown?
    The first obvious sign is that the equipment you were trying to use, no longer works. You may also find that a few other items may not work either and that is a very clear indication of a fuse being blown. Many circuits use the same fuse to protect them, so for instance, if your radio, interior light and electric mirrors no longer work, it could be the fuse that covers them.
  • How do I find out which fuse has blown?
    The best place to start is your vehicle’s handbook, if you still have it. There will be a section on the fuses and what they cover. It will also tell you the location of the fuse box and also, more importantly, which fuse it is! Most fuses will be colour coded. The most common ones are 5A orange, 10A red, 20A yellow and 30A green. When you pull out the fuse, you should be able to see if it has blown by the broken strip or even a blackened burn mark where it has burnt.
  • Do’s and Don’ts
    • Only replace a fuse when the equipment, and ideally the ignition, is switched off.
    • If there are a number of items that are protected by one fuse, only switch them on one by one. Otherwise, if it blows a second time, you will not know what item is causing it.
    • Never replace a fuse with a higher rating than the one you are replacing. Equipment may be damaged, or in the worst-case scenario, the wiring loom can melt instead which can cause a fire!

If you are unsure what is wrong with your car’s electrics or need help finding out why a fuse keeps blowing, then book a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics or place a booking online for a diagnostic inspection.

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How To Keep Your Car Safe And Ready To Drive

As we’re sure you’ll be aware, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 the government has asked everyone to stay home for all but essential travel. That means using your car only for the most essential journeys like shopping for basic necessities, attending to medical needs or, if you cannot work from home, travelling to and from work.

As a consequence of this, your car may move a lot less than usual, or potentially not move at all. Like humans, cars do not cope well with being left alone. They seize up, go flat and will moan and groan when they do have to move again.

So we decided to pull together 5 essential tips to help keep your car in good shape and ready for when you need it.

5 Tips To Keep Your Vehicle Safe And Ready

Battery & Electrics

If your vehicle isn’t started periodically then the battery is likely to go flat. Despite being switched off, certain circuits like the alarm and immobiliser do take a trickle of power, and can drain the battery over time.

So, to keep your battery in good shape, once a week at least, start the engine and let it run up to temperature to give the battery a boost.

Engine

To prolong the life of your engine and reduce the chance of seizure start the engine on a weekly basis. By starting the engine, you will give the oil a chance to warm up and run around the internal components and lubricate them.

It also gives the drive belts a chance to move their position against pulleys, tensioners and guides. If you don’t do this, the belts can become weakened at the constant pressure points.

The engine coolant will also get to circulate and as it also includes a rust inhibitor it will dilute any condensation and refresh the system. Once started, all the other items such as your alternator and water pump will self lubricate their bearings, once again prolonging their life and reducing the chance of seizure.

Wheels & Tyres

If a vehicle is left standing for a period of time, the sidewalls of the tyre in that one position will take all the strain. Moving the car forwards or backwards by just half a wheel turn will shift the pressure point.

This is also a good time to check your tyre pressures as under-inflation will cause further damage to the sidewall and may even render the tyre dangerous.

Suspension

Just like our joints, your car’s suspension needs to be kept supple. We are not suggesting going out for a drive but a little bit of movement can make all the difference! Even just sitting in the car will move a lot of the components enough to prevent most issues. You would be surprised by the amount of springs that break when a car is left stationary for a long period!

Brakes

When you give your car its weekly warm up, dab the brakes a few times and while your feet are down there, give the clutch pedal a bit of exercise as well if it’s a manual!

If you don’t drive your vehicle, inevitably your brake discs will gain a coating of rust. This is quite normal and in most cases once the car is moving and the brakes applied a few times, this will clean off. It may be a bit noisy to start with, but it’s ok!

And finally, don’t leave the parking brake on unless really necessary!

If you leave your parking brake on for a long period, it is highly likely it will “stick on”. So although you released the handle, the brakes are still applied. You will feel the car try and move but it may drag the wheel(s) or rise up and not budge! To prevent this, leave the car in gear and release the handbrake if it is a manual, or simply leave it in P on an automatic.

If you do forget and it sticks on, do not under any circumstances simply try and keep driving it to release it as you can damage the brakes. Book a mechanic to come out and do it safely.

If you are concerned that your vehicle may have become unsafe, unreliable or something has happened to it, book a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics or you can use our new contact-free service to place a booking.

Catalytic converter theft and how to prevent it

Your catalytic converter, the part in your exhaust system which turns toxic emissions into less harmful substances, contains this precious metal palladium. With the rising prices for valuable metals like this one, the numbers for catalytic converter theft are also currently rising. Here are some tips on how to prevent and slow down thieves dismantling your car:

Prevent catalytic converter theft by:

  • Parking closer to walls, other vehicles or close to the kerb, to make climbing under your car more difficult.
  • Marking the catalytic converter with an engraved serial number can allow easier tracing as well making it harder to sell.
  • Welding the bolts if the converter is bolted on. This does not stop thieves but makes it harder to remove the converter using only a spanner. The downside to consider is that it not only makes it harder for thieves but also mechanics when they are working on your exhaust system.
  • Get a protective cover fitted to make it more difficult for thieves to remove the converter.
  • Get a catalytic converter alarm that is set off when the catalytic converter is tempered with.
  • Increased security measures, e.g. if possible park in a lockable garage, fencing, park in well-lit areas or CCTV.

What to do if the catalytic converter has been stolen?

In the case when your catalytic converter has been stolen, additional damage might have been caused to the exhaust system. As the converter is removed by force, the act of removal can have damaged surrounding parts as well. This means that you will need to have a mechanic take a thorough look at the exhaust system to determine the extent if other parts of the system have to be replaced as well.

In these cases, our in-house mechanics can help advise you to get your vehicle fixed.

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Happy driving!