Fuses are the gatekeeper of an electrical circuit. A fuse sacrifices itself when the current flow exceeds the pre-determined rated current flow. Fuses are of various types. They come in different sizes, configurations, shapes, and designs. Each fuse has its characteristics and applications.
Below is the ultimate comprehensive list of different types of car fuses. In this powerful guide, you will quickly learn about different types of car fuses and their use with a complete ampere rating chart and pictures.
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Car Fuse Types:
Fuses are current sensitive devices. It plays a huge role in preventing the electrical circuit from burning. There are hundreds of car fuse types and designs. Automotive or car Fuse types vary in terms of make and model. Each fuse has its specification, design, and installation depending upon the need of the circuit. Here are the two Major types of fuses.
- Fast Blow Fuse
- Slow Blow Fuse
Fast blow fuses are fuses that blow immediately during a short circuit while a slow blow fuse blows after some time during a short circuit.
Types Of Fast Blow Fuse
Here are the four types of Fast Blow Fuses
- Glass Tube Fuse
- Blade Fuse
- Bosch Or Torpedos Fuse
- Electric Vehicle Fuse (EV Fuse)
1. Glass Tube Fuse:
It is the primary fuse used in the initial era of the vehicle before blade-type fuses were invented. Glass tube fuses consist of two metal end caps terminals with metal wire. This metal wire (fuse element) is internally connected with the end caps terminal to provide a path for electrical current.
Glass tube fuses were designed to fail in the event of overcurrent. It burns itself due to a fault in the circuit. All the glass tubes are almost ¼ inch wide in diameter with different length sizes depending on the amperage rating.
Glass tube fuses are fast-blow fuses and burn immediately in overcurrent events in a circuit. It was first used in the 1910s in fuse holders, nowadays these fuses are rarely used in cars. It comes with a current of 4 amp to 30 amp.
2. Car Blade Fuse:
Blade-type fuses or Plug-in fuses were developed first in the 1970s. It is the most common fuse used in the automotive industry. A blade fuse is a type of automotive fuse that consists of two blades/prongs and a fuse element (A metal wire which connects both blades) is encased in a semi-transparent color-coded plastic. The purpose of transparent plastic housing is for easy identification of a blown fuse.
The main job of the fuse is to protect the wiring from catching fire. When excessive current runs through the fuse, its metal wire temperature increases causing the melting and breaking of the circuit. The metal wire present between the two blades has a lower melting point compared to the entire circuit. Blade-type fuses are easy to remove and replace. This feature gives it an edge over other fuses.
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The purpose of the fuse is to protect the wiring harness and components from damage. When a high amount of current runs through the fuse, its metal wire temperature increases, causing the melting and breaking of the circuit.
The fuse size varies depending on the amperage rating. The higher the amperage rating the more width it has. The blade fuse has its own color-coding system to represent a specific amperage rating which indicates how much current a fuse can handle.
It represents an amperage rating in two different ways. First, through color coding. The housing body of each blade fuse is color-coded with a specific color associated with a specific amperage rating. The second method of showing the current rating is the amperage rating printed on the plastic housing body of the fuse.
One informational point you need to know is that all types of blade fuse do not start from the same amperage rating. Maxi blade fuse starts from 15 amp and continues to 120 amp. Whereas micro-blade fuses are available in the range of 5 amp to 30 amp. Similarly, regular blade fuses are in the range of 1 amp to 40 amp.
Also, bear in mind that the plastic housing body of a fuse can repeat and makes you confused. In a regular blade fuse, the 10 amp fuse color is red. The same Red color in the maxi blade fuse represents 50 amp. These are the cautions, one must keep in mind while replacing fuses, especially in worry situations.
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Types Of Blade Fuse:
Blade fuse has four main types.
- Regular Fuse: ATO/ATC:
- Mini Fuse: APM/ATM
- Maxi Blade Fuse (APX):
1. Regular Fuse: ATO/ATC:
A regular fuse is the standard type of blade fuse first introduced in the late 1970s. Used in automotive and marine applications. It is the second-largest type of blade fuse in size. You can recognize it by its wider width than its taller height. Standard fuse comes in two main varieties called ATO and ATC fuse. They both are the same in size and shape and are also interchangeable with each other provided that the amperage rating is the same.
First let me make it clear that ATO/ATC only relates to the design of the housing body of the fuse, not to anything else. Car manufacturers made plastic housing bodies of a fuse in two different designs.
In the first design, the bottom of the plastic housing body of a fuse is kept open, exposing the fuse element to the atmosphere, called the ATO fuse. Where the “O” at ATO stands for “Open” housing space between the two blades of the fuse.
In the second design, the bottom of the plastic housing body is kept closed, sealing the fuse element from the atmosphere (To protect the fuse element from moisture), called the ATC fuse. Where “C” stands for “Closed” housing space between the two blades of the fuse.
In the automotive industry, it doesn’t matter whether you use ATC or ATO fuse. This care is only kept in an explosive environment, especially in marine applications. Where the fuse does not burn the gas fumes like in the boat bilge area. Regular fuse comes in a variety of different amperage ratings from 1 amp to 40 amp. Below is the Ampere Rating chart of Regular Fuse.
2. Mini Fuse: APM/ATM:
Also called APM or ATM fuse where “M” denotes Mini. Mini fuses are smaller in size than standard ATO/ATC fuses. With advancements in technology, the circuit demands in a car increased. Therefore, the need for more circuits to be controlled in a limited space evolved. For this reason, the mini fuse was introduced.
It was first developed in the 1990s. It can control more circuits by occupying less space. Mini fuses have the same characteristics as regular fuses. It is available in a variety of different amperage ratings from 2 amp to 40 amp.
Mini fuses have the same amperage color coding as regular fuses. These fuses are also available in a smaller version called low profile mini fuse. Here is the Ampere Rating chart of Mini Fuse.
A. Low-Profile Mini Blade Fuse: (ATM/LP):
Low profile mini blade fuse is the type of mini fuse and has the same characteristics as regular mini fuses contain. Also, it has the same body housing height and width as regular mini fuses have. But the only difference is that the blade terminal of low profile mini fuse does not exceed the bottom of the plastic housing body, which allows a low-profile mini fuse to save more space and weight.
It saves additional space and weight due to its overall small height. Low-Profile Mini Fuse has the same color coding as a regular mini fuse contains. It comes in an amperage rating of 2 amp to 40 amp. Here is the Low-Profile Mini Fuse Ampere rating chart.
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Low-profile mini-blade fuses have the same body housing height and width as regular mini fuses. But the difference is that the blade terminal of the low-profile mini fuse does not exceed the bottom of the plastic housing body.
Micro fuses are the smallest type of blade fuse. It became the new standard for automotive vehicles. Micro fuses are great for high-temperature environments. It comes in two types.
- A. Micro 2 (Also called two-prong blade fuse)
- B. Micro 3 (Also called three-prong blade fuse)
A. Micro 2:
Also known as APT, ATR, or 2 Prong. Micro 2 is the smallest type of blade fuse, surpassed the mini fuse, and became the new standard in vehicles. Generally, people get confused between mini and Micro 2 fuses. You can identify the Micro 2 fuse easily by its height. Micro 2 fuse is much taller than wider in size. Conversely, the mini fuse is a little wider compared to the micro 2 Fuse.
Its design and structure can save more space and control more circuits. Its amperage rating range is from 5amp to 30amp. Below is the ampere rating chart of the Micro 2 fuse.
B. Micro 3:
Also called ATL or 3 Prong. Micro 3 is a three-Prong fuse. It has a middle common terminal that provides current to either side of the terminal through a fuse element. You can say, overall it has three terminals and two fuse element wires with a central common terminal.
This allows a single fuse to effectively control two circuits. Also, its small layout can control more circuits while using less space. Its amperage rating varies from 5 amp to 15 amp. Below is the ampere rating chart of the Micro 3 fuse.
4. Maxi Blade Fuse (APX):
Maxi fuse is the largest type of blade fuse in size. These fuses are found in older vehicles with high amperage circuits. It is used in heavy-duty applications, especially for motor-powered applications where a large inrush current is needed at the start.
In the past, it was mainly used in place of fusible links. It is available in different current ratings from 15 amp to 120 amp. Here is the ampere rating chart of the Maxi Blade Fuse.
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3. Bosch Or Torpedos Fuse (ATS Or GBS):
Bosch-type fuses use roughly looking glass-type fuse in shape. It is made up of plastic material and has two conical end caps which are pointed outside. Due to these conical end caps, it is also called Torpedos Fuse.
It has a thin metal strip that connects two end metal caps with each other. This conductive strip wire is designed to fail when the overcurrent event happens. These fuses are replaced by blade fuses.
4. EV Fuse:
Electric vehicles (EV) fuse is a high-voltage, high-current rating fuse. It is used in high-voltage batteries or hybrid electric vehicles for protection from overcurrents.
EV fuse consists of layers of strips that carry the current. It is sealed with silica sands or some other powder so that when the fuse blows, it leads the arc to disappear. The fuse has the characteristics of fast-acting whenever a short circuit occurs. It is available in voltage ratings up to 1000 V DC with a current rating of up to 1000 Amp.
Slow Blow Fuses:
A slow blow fuse is a fuse that can withstand an excessive amount of current for short time without blowing itself. It is used in applications where the harmless high inrush current is needed for short time during a start-up like a starter, alternator, etc.
Some automotive applications by nature need a large inrush current at a start-up that exceeds a fuse’s pre-determined rated current value. If a fast blow fuse is used, it could blow immediately resulting in the wrong nuisance blowing.
By using a slow blow fuse you can bypass this false tripping problem. A slow blow fuse fulfills the overload demand of applications without bursting itself. It bursts only when the overcurrent situation sustains in a circuit.
It has the characteristics of built-in time delay and low voltage drop. Its fuse element material is designed to slowly raise its temperature when the current overruns the circuit, which protects the fuse from false blowing. Thus, a slow blow fuse melts after some time in an overload event.
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Types Of Slow Blow Fuse:
Here are the three types of Slow Blow Fuses.
- Bolt Down Fuse:
- Fusible Links:
- Cartridge Fuses:
5. Bolt Down Fuses
A bolt-down fuse is used when more power is required and limited space is available. Bolt-down fuses meet all the requirements and features of high-power wires. Its tin-plated contact saves space and protects the fuse from moisture corrosion.
Bolt-down fuses have the characteristics of time delay. When a high amount of current flows through these fuses, its temperature raises slowly and doesn’t blow immediately. It comes in an amperage rating of up to 500 amp. Bolt-down fuses have two types.
- A. Midi Fuse: (ANL)
- B. Mega Fuse
A. Midi Fuse: (ANL)
Midi fuse is best for space-saving of high current wiring protection. This type of fuse is generally used for protecting the main power source wires. It is a slow blow fuse and has the characteristics of time delay.
Its fuse element heats up slowly when exposed to a high current and does not burst immediately. It is available in different amperage ratings from 30 amp to 200 amp. Below is the chart of the Midi Fuse ampere rating.
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B. Mega Fuse:
Mega fuse is a new standard for high-current wires. It is used for high-current automotive applications, especially for battery and alternator protection. Its thin tin-plated contact, which saves space, is the reason it is an excellent choice for high-current wires.
It also has the characteristic of time delay. It comes with an amperage rating of 80 amps up to 500 amps. Here is the ampere rating chart of the Mega fuse.
6. Fusible Links:
Fusible links look much different than the normal fuse. It is a low voltage of a short piece of smaller diameter cable. It is designed to melt when the current passes its pre-determined current values.
The fusible link is the weakest wire and handles less current compared to the entire circuit. It is about four wire sizes (AWG) smaller than the circuit wire. Its insulation is made up of special non-flammable material so that when the wire melts it remains intact. Many car manufacturers have replaced fusible links with PAL fuses.
7. Cartridge Fuses:
This is another type of slow-blow rectangular fuse used mostly in Japanese cars. It is used especially for high-current applications in which it can withstand high temperatures for a long time. These fuses have built-in extended time delay and voltage drop features.
The top window of the cartridge fuses is transparent for quick identification of blown fuses. It comes both in male and female terminals. The male terminal of cartridge fuses has either a bent or straight leg that can be bolted down.
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Types Of Cartridge Fuse:
Here are the four types of cartridge fuses.
- J-Case Fuse:
- Low-Profile J-Case Fuse:
- M-Case Fuse:
- PAL Fuses:
1. J-Case Fuse:
J-Case is the type of cartridge fuse with a female terminal design. It has the nature of built-in time delay and low voltage drop feature.
Moreover, it can handle high inrush currents. It is also called the female version of the blade fuse and is available from 20 amp to 60 amp. Here is the chart of the J-Case fuse ampere rating.
2. Low-Profile J-Case Fuse:
It is the mini version of the standard J-Case fuse and has similar performance characteristics to the standard J-Case fuse. Its smaller height saves more space and weight.
One plus point of a short male blade terminal is it saves more weight and material in the fusebox. It is available with a current rating of 20 amp to 60 amp. Below is the current rating chart of the Low-Profile J-Case Fuse.
3. M-Case Fuse:
M-case is a cartridge-style fuse with female terminals. It has time delay and voltage drop characteristics. M-case is specially designed for high inrush currents applications. It comes with a current rating of 15 to 60 amps. Here is the chart of the M-Case fuse ampere rating.
4. PAL Fuses:
PAL fuses are cartridge-type fuses that come in long and short legs. Some of the PAL fuses have female terminals while others have straight and bent bolt-on-legged terminals.
One major benefit of the female terminal PAL fuse is that there is no longer a problem of losing the tension of the female terminal in the fuse panel from repeated removal and insertion. PAL fuses are mostly found in Japanese cars. It is available in the current rating up to 140 Amps. Below is the ampere rating chart of the PAL fuse
A fuse typically blows due to a short circuit. It is a safety device that protects devices such as cars, appliances, and lights from short circuits. When a short circuit occurs, current can flow through the fuse too quickly and cause it to trip, blowing the fuse. This prevents harmful electricity from flowing through the device and potentially causing damage.