How to Fix a Car Cigarette Lighter (12v Power Outlet)

Cigarette lighters have many functional uses beyond what the name suggests.

It serves as a power source to charge many important devices, from cell phones to navigation systems.

If your cigarette lighter stops working, you’ll likely want to fix it pretty quickly. 

Keep reading to learn about some easy fixes as well as the general steps to replacing the socket below.

How to Fix a Broken Cigarette Lighter

Learn about the common causes of broken 12-volt cigarette lighter and how you can DIY a fix for each.

1. Clean the Socket

The first thing you should do when your cigarette lighter stops working is check it for any foreign objects.

It’s easy for crumbs, pebbles, or dirt, to fall and get stuck in the socket.

Even if small, these objects can disrupt the electric collection transmitted or block something from being plugged in.

A small vacuum can be helpful.

Once you have removed foreign objects, plug your charger back into the outlet and check if it works.

2. Look for a Broken Fuse

The next thing you should do to troubleshoot is look for a broken fuse.

This is a common issue that occurs whenever a fuse receives more power than it can handle, causing it to get too hot and melt.

It can be caused by incompatible chargers or faulty wiring inside your car. 

To learn if a fuse is broken, use your owner’s manual to locate which fuse connects to your cigarette lighter.

Once located, pull it out with a gripper tool or your hand, and look for any signs of it being blown, burned, or broken.

If damaged, you can buy a new one from a local auto parts store and replace it.

PRO TIP: Ensure you buy a fuse with the same amperage as the one you are replacing.

3. Test the Socket

There are a few quick things you can do to troubleshoot before testing the function of the socket is necessary.

First, make sure your car’s electricity is turned on when you are trying to charge your device, as this is necessary for many modern cars. 

Next, take note if other functions that use electricity are working, but the cigarette lighter is not.

If this is the case, try a different cord. 

Third, check other electric outlets.

Modern cars have several additional different ports, commonly one on the passenger’s side of the dashboard.

If you get power from the other ports, this affirms you’re dealing with a dead cigarette lighter socket.

On the other hand, if no power comes from any of the sockets, this is a larger diagnosis for a mechanic.

If you’ve made it this far, it’s time to check if the socket is functioning properly.

To do this, you’ll need a multimeter tool. Follow these steps:

  1. Set the multimeter tool to DC voltage.
  2. Attach the red wire to the red socket with a “V” label.
  3. Attach the black wire to the black socket with a “COM” label.
  4. Touch the metallic circle on the bottom of the cigarette lighter socket with the the metal end of the red lead. 
  5. Touch the side of the socket with the probed end of the black lead.
  6. Turn the ignition switch on and test the socket to see if electricity is running through it. If the reading is significantly below 12 volts, the socket likely needs to be replaced.

Because replacing a socket is a more complicated car fix, consider seeking professional help.

However, if you are confident you can tackle it yourself and want to avoid an expensive repair, keep reading.

How to Replace a Car’s 12V Socket Fuse

Follow these general steps to replace your cigarette lighter’s socket.

1. Locate Your Car’s Fuse Box

There are three likely places that you will find the fuse box:

  • Under your hood.
  • In the driver’s side cabin.
  • In your trunk.

Depending on the type of car you have, you may have anywhere from one to three fuse boxes.

If you’re having trouble locating them, check your owner’s manual. 

2. Check for Spare Fuses 

Pop open the lid of your fuse box and look for spare fuses—if you have multiple fuse boxes, check all of them.

These are often present in modern vehicles.

If you have an older vehicle that doesn’t provide spares, you can purchase them from an auto store.

3. Get Materials

You will need the following tools for this job:

  • A flashlight. This will come in handy if there isn’t enough surrounding light to complete the project. It is especially important if your fuse is color coded, as many are.
  • Needle nose pliers. The smaller the better to work with a car’s delicate fuses. 
  • Multimeter. This is more of a nice to have. But, it can typically be bought for $10 and will help you measure if electric currents are flowing.
  • Replacement fuse. If you found a spare in your fuse boxes, you’re all set here. If not, you’ll need to purchase one.

IMPORTANT: Share the make, model, and year of your car with the auto store associate so they can check their system to ensure you’re buying the right product. 

4. Remove the Blown Fuse

Open the door to your fuse box and locate the cigarette lighter fuse using the map and legend.

IMPORTANT: Take your time on this step to ensure you don’t pull the wrong fuse.

Commonly, this fuse is labeled “CIG”, but not always. If the map or legend has faded over time, you can find a copy of it in your car’s user manual. 

Connect the multimeter to the cigarette lighter fuse to check for current.

If there is no reading when the multimeter is attached, the fuse is most likely burnt.

In this case, you need to remove it from the fuse bank using the fuse-pulling tool, which can be located in your fuse box.

IMPORTANT: Be very careful and only grip the lips of the fuse while making sure you don’t squeeze the tool too hard. You want to avoid any potential slip ups that can cause you to damage the fuse’s body. 

Once you have the fuse in your hands, inspect it to affirm it has broken, cracked or burnt. 

5. Insert the Replacement Fuse 

If you purchased a replacement fuse from an auto-parts store, double check that the fuse and fuse box have matching amps of current (eg. 10, 15, 20 amps).

Carefully insert the replacement fuse into the bank, ensuring it is properly aligned.

IMPORTANT: Avoid excessive force, as you can easily break the replacement fuse.