If you ever need to light a cigarette inside the car or to start a campfire, you won't have to search deep within your pockets for a lighter or fumble inside your bag or glove box, which can be quite frustrating. You just have to turn to your car's in-dash cigarette lighter that's charged through the power outlet. Once hot enough and ready to light up a cigarette, this in-dash accessory will simply pop up.
If something seems wrong with what used to be a reliable in-dash cigarette lighter, there are ways to diagnose the problem.
Checking the cigar lighter to spot where the real trouble comes from
When checking the cigar lighter, all you have to use is a 12-V test light. The lighter malfunction may be caused by a blown fuse, so might as well start with this part and then work your way through the lighter circuit.
Step 1: Go to the cigarette lighter fuse. This can usually be found in the fuse panel that's placed beneath the dash on the driver side. If the fuse isn't marked, consult the owner's or service manual to help you find the right part.
Step 2: Use nose pliers to pull off the fuse. Once the fuse has been disconnected, you can now easily inspect its case, looking for that metal strip that's placed in the middle of the fuse metal connectors. You have to replace the fuse if the metal strip appears to be damaged. To test the lighter, turn the ignition key and see if the lighter will work or charge. If the fuse seems fine, then you have put back the fuse in the panel and be ready to go further with your lighter testing.
Step 3: Plug the test light's wire connector to a ground. You may find a good ground through a metal bracket or a bolt underneath the dashboard. Turn the ignition key before probing the lighter fuse on both sides. If the test light doesn't flash or glow, there could be a problem with any of the fuse panel connections. You have to fix the broken connection or clean out stuck dirt.
Step 4: Check the power wire that runs to the socket of the cigarette lighter. The wire can be located through the back of the socket or lighter box. The ignition switch should be on, and the test light should be plugged to a ground. Use the test light probe to touch the power wire. If the light doesn't flash or glow, you'll have to inspect the power wire connection. This connection is between the cigar lighter and the fuse panel. Repair may be needed in case of a faulty connection.
Step 5: Follow the same procedure in step 4. The only variation is that the wire of the test light will be clipped to a socket case for ground connection. If the test light flashes or glows, the heating element of the lighter has to be replaced. Otherwise, the wire connection between the socket of the lighter and the ground must be checked.