Difference Between a Fuse & Circuit Breaker

Updated July 19, 2017

For your car, you may need to become familiar with identifying fuses from circuit breakers and their purpose. These circuit protection devices save your car from electrical damage.

Circuit Breakers

A circuit breaker is generally much larger than a fuse. Your car's electrical circuits and electronics that may overload often are usually protected by circuit breakers. When a current is too strong for the circuit breaker's bimetallic strip, the strip causes the contacts in the breaker to open, thereby stopping the current from potentially causing damage


Fuses operate the same as a circuit breaker except that the metal inside these fuses are single strips and are designed to melt and break when overloaded. Fuses are installed for car electronics that should not experience overloads unless there are damages somehow caused by external factors such as exposed wiring.


Circuit breakers generally come in three types for automobiles within 5 to 60 ampere-ratings (A): 1) self-resetting/cycling, 2) manual/push-button and 3) PTC- positive temperature coefficient.

Easily replaceable, fuses often come in a variety of sizes, colours and ampere-ratings: 1) auto (3 to 30A), 2) mini (5 to 30A), 3) maxi (20 to 80A), 4) Pacific (30 to 60A), 5) glass (1 to 50A), and 6) ceramic (often in European imports).

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About the Author

Jin Machina began writing professionally in 2010. His main writing interests are film, literature, boxing and martial arts, automotive and performing arts. Machina has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington, where he completed two majors: anthropology and comparative history of ideas, a discipline focused on culture, literature and the self.