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What are Fuse Types, and How Do I Identify them?

One of our non-negotiable features in a dash cam is parking mode which records what’s happening around your car even when it’s unattended. To activate this feature, the most popular option is hardwiring.

When you hardwire the dash cam, you connect it straight to your vehicle’s power source to keep the device running - and one of the most essential accessories needed is a fuse tap, which makes hardwiring a simple connection to your fuse box.

We get a lot of questions about fuse taps all the time, especially when it comes to identifying which one you have. In this article, we will provide you with the information you need about the importance of fuse taps and how to distinguish them from one another to help you in your dash cam installation.

What are Fuse Taps?

Fuse taps are helpful when installing dash cams in vehicles. They give a simple way to connect to the current electrical system without requiring complex wirings. If you're curious about how it works, fuse taps add a new circuit to your existing fuse box by "piggy-backing" into an existing fuse slot.

When installing, just take the fuse from the slot you want to use out and replace it with the fuse tap. The existing circuit integrity is unaffected, and the fuse and functioning remain unchanged. The new circuit includes its own fuse, protecting your device and car from potential shorts or other issues.

What are the types of Fuse Taps?

There are four main fuse types found in vehicles today: Micro or standard fuse taps, Mini, low-profile mini, and ATO fuses. These fuses all look physically different, and simply taking the fuse out, showing its teeth, is plenty to be able to tell what type it is. This can be done easily with a set of pliers. (Just don’t lose the fuse!)

Fuses are typically colour-coded to indicate their amperage rating, and the amperage rating is also usually printed on top of the fuse. For instance, a 5-amp fuse may be tan, a 10-amp fuse red, a 15-amp fuse blue, and so on. However, these colours can vary between manufacturers, so it's important to also check the printed rating.

Simply looking at your fuse box is often not sufficient to tell the fuse type, nor is a diagram of your fusebox. Alternatively, this information can sometimes be found in your vehicle’s manual.

Fuse type can vary depending on the make, model, and even year of your vehicle, as vehicles have the possibility of changing with each iteration.
Now let’s differentiate each.

1. Micro 2 Fuse

Micro2 fuses are a type of automotive fuse that are often used in newer cars, SUVs, trucks, and other vehicles. They're known for their compact size and high amperage rating. Here's how to identify them:

Shape and Size: Micro2 fuses have a small, flat, rectangular shape. They are approximately 15mm wide and 9mm tall. They have two thin, metal prongs extending out from one side of the plastic body, which is where the fuse makes contact with the fuse box.

2. Mini Fuse

If you're driving a smaller car or an older model, chances are it uses mini blade fuses - that's where the mini fuse comes in. It looks like the standard fuse, but the slot for the fuse is narrower, so it can snugly hold those mini fuses. Keep an eye out for that smaller slot when you're trying to identify a mini fuse.

Shape and Size: Mini fuses have a compact, rectangular shape, but are slightly larger than Micro2 fuses. They are approximately 16mm wide and 11mm tall. Like Micro2 fuses, they have two thin, metal prongs extending from one side of the plastic body.

3. Low-Profile Mini Fuse

Certain cars, like some BMWs and European models, need a low-profile mini fuse. These are made for those low-profile mini blade fuses, which are shorter and wider compared to regular mini fuses. The low-profile mini fuse looks pretty similar to the regular mini fuse, but the slot is wider to fit those unique fuses.

This compact size allows for more fuses to be packed into the same amount of space, which is beneficial for modern vehicles with numerous electrical components.

4. ATO/ATC Fuse

In older vehicles and some commercial rides, you might encounter ATO or ATC fuses. These fuses have a plastic housing with two wires just like the standard fuse, but the fuses they accommodate are different. Instead of blade-style fuses, ATO/ATC fuse work with fuses that have a transparent plastic body and exposed metal contacts. You can easily spot them by their distinctive fuse shape.

Wait, what if the fuse tap doesn’t fit?

In some cases, fuse taps may not fully fit either. Here are the possible solutions if ever you encounter this:

Double-check the Fuse Tap Compatibility

Ensure that you have the correct type and size of fuse tap for your vehicle. Verify that the fuse tap matches the fuse type (micro, mini, low-profile mini, ATO/ATC) and size specified for your car. Using an incompatible fuse tap can cause fitment problems. Holding your existing fuse, and your new fuse side by side will reveal any differences.

Try a Different Fuse Slot

In some cases, certain fuse slots in the fuse box may have slightly different dimensions or configurations. Attempt to install into a different slot within the fuse box. Another fuse slot might provide a better fit for the fuse, allowing it to securely connect. Some vehicles such as BMWs use multiple fuse types, so ensure you are connecting to the proper location.

The Fuse tap is the correct type but still doesn’t fit!

This can happen on some very particular vehicle models, and if standard third party fuse taps do not fit properly, then we’ll need to alter the fuse taps. The most likely issue is that the legs or body of the fuses are a bit too thick, to bypass this you are able to sand the fuses by hand.

Alternatively, speak to your local dealership, who may carry the proper fuse type for your specific vehicle model.  

Important Reminders!

Again, before you dive into the installation, make sure you know the power requirements of your dash cam and choose a fuse that can handle it.

Remember to match the fuse's capacity with the maximum capacity of the circuit and fuse you're using.

Overall, the best way we recommend checking your vehicle’s fuse is to take one out, and physically check it yourself. This is to ensure you don’t run into any issues during your drives.

Moreover, if you are uncertain about modifying, adapting the fuse, or if you encounter persistent difficulties, you seek assistance from a professional, installer, or your dealership. And if you happen to be around the Richmond, BC area, our professional installers and technical team will be happy to assist you! Book an appointment here.