How to Repair a Car Cigarette Lighter

Updated February 21, 2017

You will be hard-pressed to locate a new vehicle with an actual cigarette lighter in it. What was the standard 20 years ago has been replaced with power outlets, which are the cigarette lighters without the lighter. The outlet, when used frequently, can become contaminated and damaged. Repairing the internal elements of a power outlet or cigarette lighter is highly difficult. Replacing the unit is simple. Fixing a non-working outlet may be even easier than replacing it, since the most common problem relates to a damaged fuse.

Open the fuse panel, which is typically located beneath or to the side of the dash. Pull the fuse for "Accessories" or "Power Outlet" and inspect it. Use needle-nose pliers to pull the fuse out.

Check all of the fuses. Replace any damaged ones, and test the outlet. To identify damaged fuses, look at the metal strip in the fuse. If it is broken, burnt, melted, or corroded the fuse will need to be replaced.

Clean the unit out with a can of air. Test the unit with the vehicle running. You can use any device that plugs into the outlet to test the system, such as a cell phone car charger or cigarette lighter. Do not test with just one device. Use different devices to test the outlet to make sure that it's not the device that is damaged.

Replace the outlet. Make sure the vehicle is turned off, and the key removed. You will have to remove the dash cover for that area. You will find screws along the lower edge. Some vehicles require that you remove multiple covers to get to the centre console cover. Some outlets just screw into place. Others are bolted to a frame. A combination of screwdrivers and ratchets may be necessary to remove the dash panel and the outlet, depending upon your specific vehicle model.

Install the new outlet. The installation will be the reverse of removal. The wires connecting to the outlet will connect in the same manner as the original unit. Test the unit with the vehicle on before reinstalling the dash panel.


The cigarette lighter has a useful life of about one to two years with frequent use. When repairing the outlet, you should also replace the actual lighter.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Can of air
  • Replacement outlet
  • Screwdriver or ratchet
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