More car cigarette adapter problems
September 7, 2012 3:34 PM   Subscribe

How do I fix the ac adapter in my car (aka the cigarette lighter)? I already checked the fuse and it is fine.

I have a 2001 Oldsmobile Alero.
I believe my car is essentially the same car as the Pontiac Grand Am from the same year.

It has two ports for cig lighter/aux power. One is just below the stereo head and another one opens up on the passenger side. I checked the fuse and it is fine. Any other ideas?
posted by at the crossroads to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there corrosion in there? If so, a bit of scrubbing with a wire brush might help, being sure to remove the fuse or disconnect the battery before sticking fingers or conductive objects in to the socket.

Remember that most lighter sockets only work when the car is on or in accessory mode. I always forget about that whenever I need to plug in my air compressor to pump up the tires.

And, as a quick aside, it's a car's electrical system is actually DC, not AC, since it runs straight off a battery.
posted by ckape at 3:53 PM on September 7, 2012

Use a voltmeter or indicator light to see whether there's power at the fuse. If there is then the problem may be the socket itself.
posted by jon1270 at 3:55 PM on September 7, 2012

Response by poster: To clarify, neither socket is working.
posted by at the crossroads at 5:08 PM on September 7, 2012

Sometimes the plug you may be trying to use is too short to touch the contact at the bottom of the socket, or not wide enough to connect to the contacts on the sides of the socket.
posted by DandyRandy at 5:52 PM on September 7, 2012

Have you checked more than one component/adaptor to establish power? Make sure you check something that you can confirm works right now. If you're using the same component/cable to check it it could always be the lead itself that is wrong. Double check that first.

Are you sure you have checked the correct fuse - modern cars have more than one fusebox so unless you have checked the manual for the correct fuse specifically for the cigarette lighters/aux power) and location it still may be the issue. Its not clear if you've done that or just (understandably) checked the obvious fusebox for blown fuses and assumed all is well.

Other than double checking the fuse I'd suspect they both run off the same main feed wire and either the wire fell off the first one in the chain or it is otherwise broken. That will mean pulling the dash out a bit and seeing. First thing is to check if there is 12V at either switch (between the pin at the end of it and the side casing) using a multimeter or test light. Then when you pull the plugs out see if there is 12V at one of the pins on the back in case the plug itself is faulty.

(and seconding that this is not any sort of adaptor nor is it AC - your car entirely runs of 12VDC and that is the output of that outlet).
posted by Brockles at 8:50 AM on September 8, 2012

Response by poster: Actually, it was the plug adapter whatchacallit dongle thingie itself, not the sockets.

I have tried other adapters and both sockets work just fine with a quarter turn twisting.

Thanks for correcting my AC/DC confusion.
posted by at the crossroads at 12:51 AM on October 10, 2012

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