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Motorcycles and cars use fuses to distribute electrical charges through the vehicle’s system. Still, owners who have both often wonder if the fuses can be used interchangeably between the two vehicles. In many cases, the fuses appear to fit in the same slot easily, so it’s a common question.
Motorcycle fuses and car fuses are the same fuse type, but vehicle owners replacing a fuse need to pay attention to the fuse amperage used. Using a fuse of the wrong amperage can cause an electrical short in either a motorcycle or a car, causing damage and even a fire risk.
As long as you know how to safely identify the correct amperage necessary and install a new fuse, motorcycle fuses can be used in cars and vice versa. Read on to learn more about vehicle fuses and how you can figure out which type to use in your car or motorcycle.
Are Vehicle Fuses Universal?
Vehicle fuses like the fuses used in cars and motorcycles can’t be properly called “universal” because you can’t use just any fuse in a fuse box on a car or motorcycle. Fuses come in different amperages. Amperage is a measurement of the strength of the electrical current being passed through an electrical system.
How Do You Determine the Amperage of a Fuse?
To determine what amperage your fuse is measured at, you’ll need to get access to the fuse for a visual inspection. In some cases, you might not be able to see the label on the fuse without removing it from its housing. Once you’ve removed the fuse, you should be able to see the amperage clearly labeled. (Source: Quora)
If for some reason the fuse is unlabeled or you can’t read the amperage on the fuse due to contamination or age, it’s better to throw the fuse out and replace it with a new labeled fuse rather than try to use that fuse in a different vehicle. It isn’t worth the risk of accidentally placing a fuse of the wrong amperage in a new vehicle and blowing the electrical system.
The amperage of the fuses used in your car or motorcycle is usually also designated in the diagrams presented by the vehicle’s repair manual. It’s always a good idea to keep a repair manual around for your vehicles if you plan on doing any sort of do-it-yourself repair work on them.
Using the Wrong Amperage of Fuse Can Be Dangerous
It’s not safe to replace a fuse in a car or a motorcycle with a different amperage fuse. This is especially true the replacement fuse’s amperage is higher than the fuse it’s replacing. (Source: American Autowire) It’s also dangerous to replace the fuse with a fuse of a lower amperage since it prevents the fuse from blowing before a fire catches.
The biggest risk of replacing a lower amperage fuse with a higher amperage one is that it can lead to a surge or overload in the electrical circuit. Electrical shorts are one of the leading causes of vehicle fires. It’s more likely that you’ll cause an electrical short or other damage to the system before you start a fire, but fire is still a possible outcome.
Even if the mismatched amperage doesn’t cause an electrical fire, using the wrong amperage of fuse in a car or motorcycle can cause permanent damage to the vehicle’s electrical system. This damage can range from a faulty radio to a vehicle that won’t start up at all. Since the results of using a fuse with the wrong amperage can’t be predicted, it isn’t worth the risk.
Electrical problems can be some of the most difficult and expensive problems to diagnose in cars and motorcycles. These problems can result in weeks of lost use as mechanics try to chase down shorts and damage in the system. This is why you should always be careful to replace fuses with equivalent fuses no matter which type of vehicle you use.
How Can You Tell if a Car or Motorcycle Fuse is Blown?
With glass fuses, it’s easy to tell from visually inspecting the fuse whether it’s blown or not. In a glass fuse that’s blown, the blown part of the fuse will be visible as an obvious gap in the fuse wire or by a blackish smear inside the fuse that shows where it burned. However, some fuses are set in an opaque housing where the fuse wire isn’t immediately visible.
Car and motorcycle fuses can be tested for viability by using a multimeter. This is a tool that can be used to measure electrical current, voltage, and resistance. To measure whether a fuse is working on a multimeter, use the following procedures:
- On a digital multimeter, hooking up the fuse should reveal a low electrical resistance (ex. 0.06). If the multimeter does not give a reading or reads at 100% resistance, this indicates that the fuse has blown.
- The viability of a motorcycle or car fuse can also be determined with an analog multimeter. When the multimeter’s leads are attached to the fuse, it should sweep the scale to indicate a low level of resistance. If the multimeter immediately tops out at 100% resistance, this shows that the fuse isn’t working to pass an electrical current. (Source: SWE-Check)
If you’re having an electrical issue with your car or motorcycle, a blown fuse could be the source of the problem. Replacing the fuse with a new fuse can sometimes solve it. But what happens if you run into an issue where a fuse in your car or motorcycle keeps blowing over and over?
Why Do Fuses Keep Blowing in My Car or Motorcycle?
There are several reasons that fuses may keep blowing in a car or motorcycle despite being freshly replaced. Here are a few problems you might run into that are destroying the fuses in your vehicle (Source: Parkside Motors):
- An electrical component is malfunctioning: In many cases, if an electrical component causes irregular draw in the electrical system, this can cause it to blow fuses in the system as it is activated. Aftermarket systems wired into the car or motorcycle are likely culprits since they may be overtaxing the electrical system.
- You’re using the wrong amperage. If you use a fuse that is the wrong amperage, the fuse will blow out quickly in many cases. If you’re lucky, this will occur without causing electrical damage to the system. If you’re not, the experiment can potentially end up costing you several hundred bucks in repairs. This is why amperage is important.
- There is an electrical short in the system. Electrical shorts can be caused by everything from frayed wires to a wet wiring harness. If you’re not sure where the electrical short is in your car or motorcycle’s system, it may require a technician to diagnose and repair.
Electrical problems can be difficult for many people to diagnose in their motorcycles or cars. If you’ve got problems in your system that fuse replacement doesn’t fix, it’s a good idea to seek out a mechanic. Messing around with your car or motorcycle’s electrical system when you’re not sure what you’re doing can cause even more damage to the vehicle.
Motorcycle and Car Fuses Are Similar
Many car fuses and motorcycle fuses can be used interchangeably, but it’s crucial to know what you’re doing when you attempt to change fuses out on your vehicle. Without knowing the proper amperage or how to install a fuse correctly, you could do a lot worse to your vehicle than just blow a fuse.