To guard against this, ancillary circuits have fuses. The most common type of fuse is a short length of thin wire enclosed in a heatproof casing often glass. The size of the fuse wire is the thinnest that can carry the normal current of the circuit without overheating, and it is rated in amps.
Often, however, it is hidden away, perhaps under the dashboard or down in the front knee-well. The car handbook usually gives the location, but without a book finding the box can prove difficult. Get to know where it is before anything goes wrong.
The starter motor has its own heavy cable, direct from the battery. The ignition circuit furnishes the high-tension impulses to the sparkplugs; and the charging system includes the generator, which recharges the battery. All the other circuits are called ancillary (subsidiary) circuits.
This is called a negative earth system, and when buying an electrical accessory a radio, for example check that it is of a type suitable for your car system. Fitting a radio with the incorrect polarity will damage the set, but most car radios have an external switch for setting the polarity to suit that of the car. Switch to the correct setting before fitting.