Car Cigarette Lighter Not Working

Car Cigarette Lighter Not Working: A Troubleshooting Guide

If you own a car, then you have encountered a situation where your car cigarette lighter is not working. You don’t have to be a cigarette smoker to have used this vehicle component. Perhaps you are that type of person who hates having little things go wrong with your car. Nothing can be as annoying as having a faulty socket lighter. This is because the cigarette lighter in modern cars does more than just light your cigarette.

On older car models, this component was initially designed to power an electrically heated cigarette lighter. In modern cars, this component has been refined and has become the de facto standard DC connector to supply electrical power for powering lighter and portable devices used in the car. This is so advantageous especially if you have a host of electrical accessories you would want to charge on the go.

In most cases, this power outlet has an output of 12 volts DC. There are different names used interchangeably to refer to this vehicle component, they include; automobile auxiliary power output, automotive power socket, automobile outlet, or cigarette lighter receptacle.

The new models come with a socket plugin where you can connect things like a phone charger. When the car cigarette lighter is not working, then the main culprit causing this malfunction is usually a blown fuse and this can easily be replaced.

If a replacement does not cure the symptoms, then it is appropriate to test the socket itself for the possible source of the problem in addition to other troubleshooting procedures. It is crazy how most car owners just ignore it and write it off as broken. They prefer living with the inconveniences that come when it’s faulty.

In this article;

Troubleshooting A Dead Car Cigarette Lighter

In this age of electronic portable devices, having a malfunctioning electric outlet in your car is one of the issues you can easily identify. A malfunctioning electric socket will most likely cause frustrations. This may tempt you to have your car checked by a mechanic to fix the electric outlet. Fixing a car cigarette lighter should not be such a complex job.

You can do it at home without going through the hassles and expenses of taking your vehicle to a mechanic to help fix it. The likely cause of a dead car cigarette lighter can be traced from a blown fuse. Fixing this is not a difficult task. But before you can embark on this duty, you have to ensure a couple of things are considered first.

Ensure You Have Turned On The Car

If your car is old, it will require you to remove the car cigarette lighter before you can access the socket. You don’t have to turn on the car because you can still receive power even if the vehicle is off.

However, with the most recent generation of cars that are highly electric and comprise several computerized settings, some electric functions will not work unless the battery is engaged. So for this type of car if the cigarette lighter is not working you have to ensure that the car is turned on first. If your car radio can play and the fan is also blowing but there is no power coming to the socket, then you will have to take the next step in this troubleshooting list.

Check The Other Electric Outlets In The Car

As indicated earlier, the most recent generation of cars is almost entirely electric and electronic. This means they have several electric outlets that serve other functions. These outlets are located at different locations within the car.

In addition to the main car cigarette lighter socket located on the driver’s dashboard, there may be other additional electric outlets on the passenger dashboard, the center console as well as the rear console depending on the size of your car.

If the main car cigarette lighter is not working, to confirm whether it is faulty, you can try to plug the cords into other sockets to see if there is power in them. If there is power flowing in the other extra sockets, then for sure you have a blown fuse in your car cigarette lighter.

But if you find other sockets also lacking power supply, then the job shall have become a little more complex because you have to do a little more check-up. You may even find that all the sockets are having blown fuses simultaneously.

Try Different Charging Cords

If the car is on but there is still no power coming into any of the electric outlets, then you are likely dealing with a blown fuse. To keep on troubleshooting and come closer to your conclusion, try using different charging codes to see if there is power coming in. If power comes on switching the charging codes, the main issue is the cord and not your car’s cigarette lighter.

And the problem shall have been solved. But if the new cord isn’t receiving any power in all the sockets or the main socket, then there is a high probability that the main root of a malfunctioning car cigarette lighter is a blown fuse. The next course of action would be to have the fuse replaced.

How To Repair A Blown Car Cigarette Lighter Socket Fuse

Statistics have it that 90% of the car cigarette lighter not working is attributed to blown electrical fuses. Replacing a blown fuse in the car cigarette lighter can be a very easy task. You just need confidence in your ability so that you don’t end up destroying other fuses. You can also avoid doing extensive electrical damage to your car.

Locate The Fuse

The location of the fuse boxes will depend on the model of your car. In most instances, the fuse boxes can be located under the hood, in the cabin on the driver’s side, or in the trunk. Some vehicles have only one fuse box while others have two or three fuse boxes. Lookup for the following characteristics from each of the fuse boxes found in the following areas:

Under The Hood

Fuses located in this section are always black and in plastic roughly 12 x 9 inches. They can be found either at the extreme edge of the passenger or the driver’s side. They are usually near the windshield than the front of the hood. The lid of the fuse box is held using several plastic clips. Detach them to access the fuses.

In The Cabin

Fuses located in the cabin are usually found on the driver’s side. They are often near the hood and the trunk release but are typically tucked further under the dashboard. Fuse boxes located in this place comprise a latch that enables the hooking of fingers into than pulling them open.

In The Trunk

These fuse boxes can be found on the sidewall of the trunk. Either on the passenger side or the driver’s side. The fuse boxes will look like small doors camouflaged into the wall of the trunk. They do have a small latch where you can insert your fingers to pull the door-like section open to access the fuses.

Different cars will have different locations for their fuses. For a majority of cars, the fuse box can be found in any of these three locations. The location of the fuse boxes will depend mainly on the design and model of your car.

In case you don’t find the fuse box in any of these three locations then it is important referring to the owner’s manual to be sure of the right location and the number of fuse boxes your car has. After locating the fuse box you can also remove the lid and check for a bay of spare fuses. In most cases, spare fuses are located in your car’s trunk so it’s important checking for possible spare fuses.

Assemble The Required Tools For The Job

After you have located all the possible locations of the fuse boxes and you have checked for possible spare fuses available, you will need a few tools to help you carry out the job.

Needle Nose Pliers

The smallest and finest pair will be appropriate since the fuses of a car are very delicate and very fragile. So it’s important handling them with fine pliers.


This is an optional took for this job. It’s important to have it if you are going to handle fuses in the cabin curled under the front dash. Additionally, fuses in your car are often color-coded so you may need a light to help you identify them in case any has faded and become indistinguishable.


This will also be an optional tool for this job. It’s easier having a multimeter to help reconcile the fuses. A multimeter will help in measuring the amount of electric current and voltage at a given point. Attaching a fuse to a multimeter can help decipher if there is any flow of current. A new multimeter goes for around $10 from any shop.

Replacement Fuse

You can get spare fuses from the fuse box. So try checking if your car had some spare ones that you can use in place of the blown fuse. If your car did not come with a spare fuse, you can get one from any auto shop near you. Just make sure you buy the right one for your car. The owner’s manual will be handy to help you know the type of fuse you need. It will help you get the recommended product for your car.

Pull The Burnt Fuse

On the lid of the fuse box, there is a map and a legend that helps you to identify the cigarette lighter fuse. The box has many fuses that control a variety of functions in the car. Be cautious and ensure you choose the correct fuse.

Many a time you will find cigarette lighter fuses labeled as “CIG”. But it all depends on the type of car you have. You can always cross-check with the legend. If your fuse map and the legend have faded away that it becomes unclear to distinguish, then you can use the vehicle manual to cross-check.

After locating the CIG fuse, the next step is to connect a multimeter to it. A functioning fuse will produce a beeping sound upon placing the multimeter on it. This indicates that there is a power supply. If the fuse is blown then no sound will be produced.

After confirming that the fuse is blown. In the fuse box, you can find a fuse pulling tool which is normally a plastic device that resembles a pair of tweezers. This tool helps to firmly grip the lip of the fuse making the removal more convenient.

If your car is an older model and doesn’t have this tool in the fuse box, this is where the needle nose pliers come in. The two can serve the same purpose of conveniently gripping the lip of the fuse and removing it with ease. You have to be extra cautious so that the gripping tools don’t slip and end up crushing on the fuse body.

Inspect The Removed Fuse

The cigarette lighter fuse often resembles the bigger version of a cell phone sim card tray when opened. It has a wide head and a thin delicate body. You can cross-examine it once more with the multimeter to confirm that the previous result was correct. You can also look at its physical appearance and take note of the following characteristics;

  • Broken or cracked wire; a functional fuse comprises a thin plastic see-through casing that protects a small electrical wire. The wire should be in a small continuous hump like the normal curved ones applied in statistics. A blown fuse will have a crack or a sign of breakage on the hump.
  • Burn marks; if the wire or the plastic casing has got some signs of unusual black coating, then the fuse has blown and is no longer functional.

Insert The Replacement Fuse

Every fuse in the fuse box has a unique color and additional numbers on the bases that indicate the amount of current they can handle. Most car cigarette lighter fuses will have a “20” or “20A” value on them. This is usually the most common value, but it’s not a one-shoe-fits-all.

You have to check your car’s cigarette lighter fuse value before replacing it. This means the fuse can handle 20 amps of current. Any other fuse in the box with the same capacity will have a unique color assigned to it.

Always cross-check to ensure that the values on the fuse you want to replace match those of the fuse that you have removed. Whether you have found the replacement fuse from the fuse bay or you have bought it from the auto shop.

Use the same tool you used to pull off the blown fuse to pull off the replacement fuse from the bay. After removing the replacement fuse, you should always compare if there is any noticeable distinction. The replacement fuse must have a nice clear body that displays solid bell-curved shape electrical wires that are a contrast to the old fuse.

At this juncture, you won’t need the pliers or the fuse pulling tool anymore. You should just hold the fuse with your fingers and insert it back to the exact position where you had removed the old fuse. Be cautious when doing this. Ensure the fuse is aligned properly and there is no forceful action that may break or crack the replacement fuse.

Check The Replacement Fuse

After you have inserted the new fuse and aligned it properly with the rest, the car cigarette lighter that was not working should come back to life once again. You can use your multimeter to check if the new fuse is working. It should produce a beeping sound when you test it using the multimeter. This signals that there is a current flow.

You can now test the electric outlet of the car if there is power flowing to it. If there is power getting into your connected portable device then fine, the job is done and you are all set. Make sure you close all the fuse boxes and store all the tools used to do the job.

What If The Car Cigarette Lighter Is Still Not Working

As we had indicated that 90% of malfunctioning cigarette lighters are a result of a dead fuse, this might not always be the case. There can be other underlying roots of the problem that even replacing a new fuse won’t be of help. So what next?

Replacement Fuse Has Blown Again Immediately

You will come across instances where the replacement fuse blows again immediately after it is replaced. This can be because the fuse has stayed longer in the replacement bay and the components had started deteriorating. Therefore, a sudden introduction of electricity can cause the fuse to blow immediately on turning on the car.

This makes the situation so tricky because it will be difficult to comprehend and try fixing it for the second time. However, that will remain the first place you can look into by following the same procedure given above. Examine the new fuse once more to ensure that it did not blow immediately after being introduced into the electrical current.

Check The Receptacle

If the inspection on the replaced fuse has a fine result, then chances are high that you are having a faulty receptacle. Over time, the receptacle may accumulate dust and debris that may jeopardize its proper connection to the cord. You can simply pick a rag and clean up the ports. It ensures no unwarranted particles are present to interfere with the connections.

If this bears no fruit, then it’s possible that the receptacle is dead and needs a replacement. On the head of the car cigarette lighter or the cover of the electrical outlet, there will be a rating for the socket. This is usually 12V (volts) in most vehicles.

If you connect a multimeter to the socket and cannot get a voltage within this exact range, then chances are that the receptacle is the root source of the problem and you will have to replace it. You can also examine the prongs that connect the adapter that you plug into the car cigarette lighter. They may be bent or they may not be having good contact with the adapter.

Hard Computer Reset

This is only possible in the modern models of cars since they have sensors that can detect mechanical problems and store computer codes that can be retrieved to help diagnose the problem.

However, computer issues cause power windows to malfunction, there is a likelihood that a computer issue may influence other electrical systems in your car like the cigarette lighter socket.

A computer reset could be necessary if the steps that have been discussed above don’t bring any solution. You can reset the computer by just simply starting and restarting the engine. But this may not likely solve the problem because it had been done earlier when you were confirming whether power was coming in all outlets.

Though it’s worth trying since it’s a simple step that may help restart your computer in case the glitch is computer-caused.

Perform A Complete Drive Cycle

If starting and restarting the engine fails, the next step toward resetting your computer would be to put the car through a complete drive cycle. This can be accomplished through the following steps:

  • Sit the car overnight – make sure that it is parked in a place that is less than 90°F and that all fans are turned off, and connected devices are unplugged. Also, make sure that your keys are out of the ignition. This will ensure that no onboard computers are still booted up while the car is resting.
  • Warm it up – after sitting overnight, turn on the car the next morning and run at idle for about five minutes. During this time, check the cigarette lighter socket. If it is working, then problem solved. If not, drive the car slowly in the neighborhood for several minutes, stopping completely at stop signs and accelerating up to a safe speed.
  • Go to the highway – get the car up to 60 MPH and drive it for at least five miles. After you have reached five miles, bring it back for another slow drive through the neighborhood.
  • Sit the car overnight – test your electrical outlet one more time. If it is still not working, turn your car off and let it sit, just like in step one. Start your vehicle and try the cigarette lighter socket again.

Disconnecting The Battery For Computer Reset

If the socket still fails, then it may be time to disconnect the battery to ensure that the computer is fully reset and no faulty codes are causing electrical glitches. Disconnecting the car battery will also reset any saved settings, such as the clock or radio preferences. This can be annoying but it is guaranteed to reset the computer.

You can disconnect and reset your battery using the steps below:

  • Locate the battery in the hood – it will be near the front center under the hood.
  • Disconnect the terminals–use a small wrench to loosen the terminals. Once loose to detach, pull them straight up, making sure not to get them confused with each other. Use a rag to make sure the terminals and terminal heads are clean.
  • Reattach the terminals – making sure that the positive and negative terminals are placed back from where you removed them, ensure a firm connection and tighten them back in place

By doing this, you can be assured that the computer either is or is not causing an electrical glitch that is causing your cigarette lighter socket not to work.

Why Car Cigarette Lighter Is Not Working

The car cigarette lighter socket may malfunction because of several reasons that include;

  • Age – faulty lighter sockets are more likely in old vehicles than new ones. Time has deteriorating effects, and years of exposure to heat can cause wiring and other electrical components to fail.
  • Moisture – while most fuse boxes are airtight with many layers of protection shielding the fuse wires from moisture, even the slightest moisture can cause a fuse to short out, breaking the electrical connection to the lighter socket.
  • Overuse – the age of portable devices makes cigarette lighter sockets essential in cars, with everything from phones to laptops, to portable air compressors having adapters that allow for electric charging with lighter sockets. This heavy use speeds up wear and tear.
  • Wrong connections – lighter socket ports are rated to handle 12V of electricity and fuses that can run 20 amps of current. Charging a device with greater power demands than the recommended risks blowing the fuse as it tries to force too much electricity through.

Car Cigarette Lighter Not Working: Final Thoughts

While there is no way to guarantee that a lighter socket lasts for the life of your vehicle, there are several steps you can take to make sure that it lasts as long as possible. Check the power needs of your devices before connecting.

This ensures that you are not trying to force more electricity through the system than what it can handle. Unplug devices while not in use by only using the lighter sockets to charge when necessary. This can minimize wear and tear on the components.

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