• Common issues with car cigarette lighters include blown fuses, damaged sockets, malfunctioning heating elements, faulty wiring, and foreign objects.
  • To fix a broken car cigarette lighter, check the fuse, inspect the socket, test the lighter element, and replace it if necessary.
  • Signs that indicate it's time to replace a car cigarette lighter include non-functionality, damage or corrosion, consistently blowing fuses, and the desire for an upgrade.
  • When choosing a replacement car cigarette lighter, consider compatibility, quality, features, aesthetics, and price.
  • The decision to DIY or seek professional replacement depends on your skills, budget, and comfort level.
  • To prevent future car cigarette lighter issues, regularly clean the socket, avoid overloading it, use high-quality accessories, inspect the fuse, and be gentle when plugging and unplugging devices.

Illuminating the Way!

The car cigarette lighter often used to power electronic devices or charge smartphones, is a convenient feature in many vehicles.

But when it stops working or becomes faulty, it can be frustrating.

In this guide, we'll show how to fix and replace a broken car cigarette lighter, so you can regain its functionality and power your devices on the go.

From troubleshooting common issues to understanding the replacement process, we'll guide you through the steps to get your car's lighter back in working order.

Get ready to illuminate the way and again enjoy the convenience of a functional car cigarette lighter!

What is a Car Cigarette Lighter?

A car cigarette lighter, a 12-volt accessory socket, is a small, cylindrical device typically found in most vehicles' center console or dashboard. Originally designed to heat a removable metal coil for lighting cigarettes, it has since evolved into a versatile power source for various electronic devices such as mobile phones, GPS units, and portable air compressors. If you're facing issues with your car's electrical system, you might find our guide on fixing Toyota and Nissan car electrical and wiring issues helpful.


car cigarette lighter and 12-volt accessory socket

The cigarette lighter has three main components: the socket, the heating element, and the plug. The socket is permanently installed in the car, while the heating element is the removable part that heats up when pushed into the socket. The plug connects the heating element to the vehicle's electrical system.

When the heating element is pushed into the socket, it completes an electrical circuit, allowing current to flow through the coil. This heats the coil to a high temperature, enabling it to light a cigarette. The heating element automatically pops out of the socket once it reaches the desired temperature, preventing overheating and damage to the vehicle's electrical system.

Although the primary function of a car cigarette lighter is to light cigarettes, it has become increasingly popular as a power source for various electronic devices. Many modern vehicles, especially Nissan and Toyota cars, now have multiple 12-volt accessory sockets, allowing you to charge or power multiple devices simultaneously. These sockets are often located in the car's front, rear, and trunk, providing convenient access for the driver and passengers.

Common Issues with Car Cigarette Lighters

Car cigarette lighters are convenient in most vehicles, providing a power source for charging devices or lighting cigarettes. However, they can encounter issues that may require troubleshooting or replacement. Here are some common problems you might face with your car cigarette lighter:

1. Blown Fuse: A blown fuse is one of the most common issues with car cigarette lighters. This can happen due to a power surge or if the lighter has been overloaded. To fix this, locate the fuse box in your vehicle and replace the blown fuse with a new one of the same rating.

2. Damaged Socket: Over time, the cigarette lighter socket can become damaged or worn out due to regular use or exposure to moisture. This can lead to a poor connection between the lighter and the socket, causing it to malfunction. In this case, you may need to replace the entire socket.

3. Malfunctioning Heating Element: The heating element inside the cigarette lighter can fail, preventing it from heating up properly. This can be caused by debris buildup or corrosion on the element. To fix this, try cleaning the heating element with a small brush or replace it if necessary.

4. Faulty Wiring: Sometimes, the issue with your car cigarette lighter might be faulty wiring or a loose connection. This can be more challenging to diagnose and fix, as it may require tracing the wiring back to its source and checking for any damage or loose connections. If you're uncomfortable with electrical work, consult a professional mechanic.

5. Foreign Objects: Foreign objects like coins or paper clips can accidentally fall into the cigarette lighter socket, causing a short circuit or blockage. In such cases, carefully remove the foreign object and check if the lighter starts functioning again.

foreign object in car cigarette lighter

Understanding these common issues with car cigarette lighters can help you diagnose and fix the problem, ensuring your lighter remains functional and reliable for years.

How to Fix a Broken Car Cigarette Lighter

Fixing a broken car cigarette lighter can be simple if you follow the right steps. Before you start, it's essential to identify the cause of the problem. Common issues include a blown fuse, a damaged socket, or a faulty heating element. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to fix a broken car cigarette lighter:

Step 1: Check the fuse

Before attempting any repairs, ensure that the fuse for the cigarette lighter is intact. Locate your car's fuse box under the dashboard or in the engine compartment. Consult your vehicle's owner manual to identify the specific fuse for the cigarette lighter. If the fuse is blown, replace it with a new one with the same amperage rating.

Step 2: Inspect the socket

With the fuse in good condition, examine the cigarette lighter socket. Use a flashlight to check for debris or foreign objects obstructing the socket. If you find any debris, carefully remove it using needle-nose pliers or a small brush.

Step 3: Test the heating element

If the fuse and socket are in good condition, the issue may lie with the heating element. To test this, plug the heating element into the socket and press it down. If it doesn't heat up and pop out after a few seconds, the heating element is likely faulty and needs to be replaced.

Step 4: Replace the heating element

Replacing a faulty heating element is a simple process. First, remove the old element by pulling it straight out of the socket. Next, purchase a new heating element that is compatible with your vehicle. Please insert the new element into the socket and test it to ensure it's functioning correctly.

car cigarette lighter replacement

Note: If the issue persists after these steps, seek professional help for further diagnosis and repair.

When to Replace a Car Cigarette Lighter

Knowing when to replace a car cigarette lighter is crucial for maintaining the functionality and safety of your vehicle. While some issues can be fixed with simple troubleshooting, such as fixing a malfunctioning car horn, there are instances where a replacement is the best option. This section will discuss the signs indicating it's time to replace your car cigarette lighter.

  1. Firstly, suppose you've already tried fixing the common issues, such as checking the fuse, cleaning the socket, and ensuring a proper connection, but your car cigarette lighter still doesn't work. In that case, it's a clear sign that a replacement is necessary. A non-functional cigarette lighter can be a major inconvenience, especially if you rely on it to charge your devices or power other accessories.
  2. Another reason to replace your car cigarette lighter is if it's damaged or corrupted. Over time, the socket and its components can wear out, similar to a car battery needing revival. Replacing the entire unit is best to prevent further issues if you notice any visible damage or corrosion.
  3. Additionally, if your car cigarette lighter is consistently blowing fuses, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. This may indicate a short circuit or other electrical issue within the lighter, similar to problems with your car's Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). Replacing the cigarette lighter is the safest option to avoid potential damage to your vehicle's electrical system.
  4. Lastly, suppose you're upgrading your vehicle's accessories or simply want a more modern and convenient option. In that case, you may replace your car cigarette lighter with a USB charging port or a multifunctional power socket, similar to maintaining your car's air conditioning system. This can provide additional charging options and improve the overall functionality of your vehicle.

In summary, it's essential to be aware of the signs that indicate it's time to replace your car cigarette lighter. Whether due to non-functionality, damage, or a desire for an upgrade, a replacement can ensure the safety and convenience of your vehicle's electrical system.

car cigarette lighter replacement options

Choosing the Right Replacement Car Cigarette Lighter

Several factors must be considered when choosing the right replacement car cigarette lighter. The process may seem overwhelming, but with a little research and an understanding of your vehicle's specifications, you can find the perfect fit for your car. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind when selecting a new car cigarette lighter:

1. Compatibility: First and foremost, ensure that the replacement lighter is compatible with your vehicle's make and model. You can find this information in your car's owner's manual or by consulting a professional mechanic. Choosing a light that fits and functions correctly is crucial to avoid potential issues.

2. Quality: Opt for a high-quality replacement lighter from a reputable brand. While saving a few bucks on a cheaper option may be tempting, investing in a well-made product will ensure longevity and reliability. A high-quality lighter will also be less likely to cause any electrical issues in your vehicle.

3. Features: Consider the features you want in your new car cigarette lighter. Some options include built-in USB ports for charging devices, LED lights for nighttime use, and even multifunctional designs incorporating additional tools like tire pressure gauges or flashlights. Think about your specific needs and preferences when selecting a replacement lighter.

4. Aesthetics: While functionality is the top priority, you may also want to consider the appearance of your new car cigarette lighter. Choose a design that complements your vehicle's interior and matches your style. Various finishes and colors are available, so you'll surely find one that suits your taste.

5. Price: Consider your budget when selecting a replacement car cigarette lighter. While it's essential to invest in a quality product, you don't need to break the bank. Shop around and compare prices to find a lighter that meets your needs and fits within your budget.

car cigarette lighter replacement options

In summary, prioritize compatibility, quality, features, aesthetics, and price when choosing the right replacement car cigarette lighter. By considering these factors, you'll be able to find the perfect fit for your vehicle and enjoy a reliable and functional car cigarette lighter for years to come.

DIY vs. Professional Replacement of Car Cigarette Lighter

When it comes to replacing a car cigarette lighter, you might be wondering whether to tackle the job yourself or seek the help of a professional. In this section, we'll discuss the pros and cons of both options so that you can make an informed decision based on your skills, budget, and preferences.

DIY Replacement

If you're a hands-on person with some experience in car repairs, you may feel confident enough to replace the car cigarette lighter yourself. The process is relatively simple and can save you money on labor costs. Additionally, you'll gain valuable knowledge and experience in car maintenance, which can be helpful for future repairs, such as fixing car overheating issues or maintaining your car's AC system. However, it's essential to have the right tools and follow proper safety precautions to avoid any accidents or damage to your vehicle.

DIY car cigarette lighter replacement

Professional Replacement

On the other hand, if you're not comfortable working on your car or lack the necessary tools and experience, it's best to leave the job to a professional. A skilled mechanic can quickly diagnose and fix any issues related to your car cigarette lighter, ensuring the job is done correctly and safely. They can also handle complex issues like car overheating or AC system maintenance. While this option may be more expensive, it can save you time and potential headaches in the long run.

Professional car cigarette lighter replacement

Ultimately, the choice between DIY and professional replacement depends on your comfort level, experience, and budget. A DIY replacement can be cost-effective if you're confident in your abilities and have the necessary tools. However, it's always better to trust a professional to handle the job if you're unsure or inexperienced. Remember, your safety and the proper functioning of your vehicle should always be your top priority.

Preventing Future Car Cigarette Lighter Issues

Preventing future car cigarette lighter issues is essential to ensure the longevity of your vehicle's accessory socket and maintain its functionality. Following these simple tips, which are part of regular car maintenance, you can avoid common problems and keep your car cigarette lighter in top condition.

1. Regularly clean the socket: Dust and debris can accumulate inside the socket over time, leading to poor electrical connections and potential damage. Use a can of compressed air or a small brush to clean the socket gently.

cleaning car cigarette lighter socket

2. Avoid overloading the socket: Plugging in too many devices or using high-power accessories can cause the socket to overheat and damage the internal components. Be mindful of the power requirements of your devices, and try not to use multiple high-power accessories simultaneously.

3. Use high-quality accessories: Investing in high-quality car accessories, such as chargers and adapters, can help prevent issues with your car cigarette lighter. Cheap or poorly made accessories may not fit properly or cause electrical problems, leading to damage.

4. Inspect the fuse regularly: It is a crucial component of your car cigarette lighter, as it protects the socket from power surges and short circuits. Check the fuse periodically to ensure it's in good condition, and replace it if necessary. If you're unsure how to do this, you might find our guide on car battery maintenance helpful.

car cigarette lighter fuse

5. Be gentle when plugging and unplugging devices: Applying excessive force when inserting or removing accessories can damage the socket or the accessory itself. Always gently ensure the accessory is properly aligned before plugging it in.

Following these preventative measures can minimize the risk of encountering car cigarette lighter issues in the future. Regular maintenance and proper use of the socket will help keep your vehicle's accessory socket functioning optimally, allowing you to enjoy the convenience of charging your devices and using various car accessories without any hassle. For more tips on maintaining and fixing your vehicle, check out our expert tips for maintaining and fixing your Nissan or Toyota vehicle.


As we bring this guide to a glowing conclusion, you know how to fix and replace a broken car cigarette lighter.

Remember to troubleshoot common issues, such as blown fuses or loose connections, and proceed cautiously when replacing the lighter socket or the entire unit. Consulting a professional is always a viable option if you're uncertain or uncomfortable with the repair process.

With your newfound skills and determination, you can power your electronic devices on the go and enjoy the convenience of a functional car cigarette lighter.

So, spark that power, and let your car's lighter shine brightly, providing you with the energy you need for your journeys ahead! 

Bill Gleason
Cars, classic cars, woodworking, hiking

Bill is a dedicated car enthusiast with a career in the auto repair field spanning over a decade and a half. His passion lies in the restoration of classic cars and assisting vintage vehicle owners in maintaining their prized possessions. He is committed to sharing his expertise and knowledge to help others resolve common car issues and ensure their vehicles continue running optimally.

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