Do you ever find yourself behind the wheel and wondering what that small metal object attached to your car’s dashboard is? You know it looks like a metal box with two prongs at the back, and you’re sure it’s important but you can’t quite remember what it’s called. The answer, my friends, is that it is none other than the humble cigarette lighter fuse.
The cigarette lighter fuse, also referred to as the cigar lighter fuse, is a common item found in cars and other vehicles. It is used to prevent damage caused by excessive current flow in the circuit of the car’s electrical system.
The fuse functions by cutting off the current flow if it ever becomes too high, thus protecting your vehicle from short circuits or accidental fires. Various names are used for the cigarette lighter fuse, including panel ignition fuses and cigar lighter fuses. Still, regardless of its name, it is always designed to protect your vehicle from dangerous current flow.
History of the Cigarette Lighter Fuse
Before the invention of the cigarette lighter, matches were used to light cigarettes. To make lighting cigarettes more convenient, the first primitive cigarette lighters were created as early as 1823. The first patent for a flint-based ignition device was granted in 1880, and this sparked a wave of popularity for the new method of lighting cigarettes.
The name “cigarette lighter” originated in World War I, when soldiers stopped using matches and began relying on butane-fueled lighters known as “cigarette lighters” due to their small size. By 1932, a German scientist developed the piezoelectric cigarette lighter fuse which operated with an applied electric current and was an instant hit with smokers worldwide. This technology is still used today, although there have been some upgrades over time such as safety features that prevent children from accidentally triggering the ignition switch due to their curiosity about how it works.
Today, modern electronic lighters are powered by rectangular flat fuses called “microfuses” which are much smaller than traditional fuses and feature quick blowout times that ensure a fast and reliable flame ignition every time they’re triggered. These microfuses are designed to open within milliseconds of an overload or short circuit in order to protect other components on the vehicle from any potential damage caused by overheating or electric shock.
Types of Cigarette Lighter Fuses
Cigarette lighter fuses are used to protect the cigarette lighter receptacle from damage due to excess current. Commonly known as blade fuses, these devices are typically made from plastic and contain a thin metal strand that melts when excess current is detected.
The most common types of cigarette lighter fuse include standard, mini/low profile, and maxi size fuses. Standard-size fuses come in 3AMP-15AMP ratings, mini/low profile fuse sizes range from 2AMP-15AMP ratings, while maxi size fuses can range up to 20AMP ratings. Automotive manufacturers typically use a 5 or 10 amp fuse for the cigarette lighter socket, though this can vary model by model.
It is important to consult your vehicle manufacturer’s instructions before replacing any of these small parts.
Causes of Cigarette Lighter Fuse Failure
Fuses protect electronic components from power surges or overloads that can cause failure, damage, and even fires. A cigarette lighter fuse is typically a 25-amp or 30-amp fuse designed to protect the car’s power accessories, interior lights, window circuits, and other electronic components from electrical overloads.
When a cigarette lighter fuse fails, the lighter socket will stop functioning, and no amount of heating up of the element itself will cause the accessory to work. Common causes of cigarette lighter fuse failure include:
- Incorrect selection or installation of the wrong type of fuse
- Damage to the plunger assembly
- Loose fittings not properly connected to the circuit
- Short circuit caused by exposed wiring
- Malfunctioning thermostat associated with power accessories connected to the lighter socket
- Corrosion on the electrical connection point
How to Replace a Cigarette Lighter Fuse
If your vehicle’s cigarette lighter isn’t working, it may be time to replace the fuse. Understanding what is causing the problem can help you to know what fuse needs to be replaced and how to proceed.
The fuse that controls the cigarette lighter is often linked with an accessory power socket. This is a safety feature designed to help protect you and your vehicle from electrical shorts and surges on circuits regulated by this fuse. When a surge of electricity occurs, it triggers the fuse protector to blow out, thus breaking the circuit. This helps prevent any fire hazards from occurring.
The cigar-lighter or accessory power socket fuse in most cars is rated at 15 amps and is located in either the toggle bracket (commonly called “fuse box”) near or on top of your battery or under the dashboard on an inside wall of your vehicle (as can be seen in many Volkswagen cars). Removing this fuse requires an examination tool that looks like a pair of long nose pliers. More modern vehicles use fuses with mini-style tabs that require a flat-head screwdriver for removal instead.
To replace the cigarette lighter’s fuse, start by locating the cigar lighter or accessory power socket bracket near or on top of your vehicle’s battery or even underneath the dashboard inside their car (in some Volkswagen models). Once located, remove its cover and identify which solder tab holds your particular 15 amp cigar-lighter/accessory socket/cigarette lighter fuses inside its connector casing.
If uncertain about which terminal tab contains your desired cigarette-lighter/accessory socket/cigarette lighter fuses, it would be wise to reference your vehicle’s manual beforehand. Once safely identified, unplug/unplug its corresponding connector by gently pulling back its outer casing away from the cocker tabs body frame entirety with care until now able to access and then take out the original old 15 amp cigarette-lighter/accessory /cigarette lighters from its connector’s slot.
Next, purchase a brand new 15 Amp Cigar-Lighter /Accessory Socket/Cigarette Lighter Fuse at any local auto parts store. Then, replug/reconnect their new Cigar -Lighter/Cigarette Lighter Fuse firmly back into place inside the connector’s body slot, taking precaution as this could damage other wiring terminals nearby, so proceed accordingly before reassembling.
Benefits of Replacing a Cigarette Lighter Fuse
Replacing a cigarette lighter fuse is an easy and inexpensive fix that can save money and time. If your car’s lighter outlet isn’t working, it may indicate that the fuse needs to be replaced. The fuse can be found in the wiring harness that is located in the dashboard near the vehicle’s steering wheel. Replacing this fuse can provide numerous benefits, including:
- Ensures electrical components are operating properly
- Increases accessibility of the car’s second 12V power outlet
- Reduces strain on other components such as wiring harnesses or relays which can become damaged when an overloaded circuit trips regularly
- It helps keep other components from becoming completely burned out
- Provides safer access for charging phones, tablets or other electronic devices with use of USB chargers or car inverters
- Prevents costly repairs due to a blown fuse
- Improves safety measures and helps ensure the vehicle remains roadworthy as per applicable state laws
Common Problems with Cigarette Lighter Fuses
Cigarette lighter fuses, also known as a 12-volt automotive fuse, are commonly used in vehicles to guard against electrical overload and short circuits. A blown fuse can cause a lot of issues, including decreased power to the instrument panel, lighting malfunction and loss of power to dash components such as the radio or the heater. If your cigarette lighter has suddenly stopped working it is likely due to one of the following common problems with cigarette lighter fuses:
- Blown a fuse – The most common issue causing a cigarette lighter to stop working is a blown fuse. Check your vehicle’s manual or look for an easily accessible fuse box under the hood or in the cabin that contains all fuses and their information. If you find that a specific fuse linked to your cigarette lighter has gone out replace it with an identical rated new one and check if your power source works again.
- Bad connection – Another common issue with tobacco lighters could be the connection socket itself being burned or damaged from heat exposure over time or from an incorrect-sized connection plug being used too frequently. In either case, this can be replaced relatively cheaply by buying them at any hardware store or online depending on what type of vehicle you own.
- Faulty wiring/grounding – Problems can also arise due to faulty wiring or poor grounding anywhere between the battery, connecting wires and eventual outlet/cigarette lighter socket which may require repair by a professional depending on the complexity levels involved in diagnosing each potential cause of concern correctly.
In conclusion, the cigarette lighter fuse is typically called an accessory or power plug fuse. It is essential to ensure that the correct amperage rating of the fuse is selected; using a higher amperage rating than necessary could result in a fire hazard, and using a lower amperage rating than required may not produce enough current for the application.
Additionally, check your vehicle’s manual to determine what fuse size and type you need for your specific car before changing out the cigarette lighter fuse.