Car Cigarette Lighter- A Complete Guide On Its Uses

Last updated on November 4th, 2022 at 11:09 pm

Car Cigarette Lighter

A car cigarette lighter is a component fixed in your vehicle that primarily helps to light your cigarette. However, a car lighter is more appropriately known as a 12V socket or 12V auxiliary power outlet. With these lighters, you can power up your portable devices like cell phone chargers and cooling fans on the go.

Note: These lighters come in all shapes and sizes. 

How do car cigarette lighters work, how to use a cigarette lighter in a car, what voltage is a car cigarette lighter or how to replace a cigarette lighter in a car? We have compiled a guide to answer your queries. 

Variants of a car cigarette lighter socket:

The ANSI/SAE J563 specification standard determines the slight differences between a car lighter socket and accessory sockets. A car cigarette lighter socket adapter would accept lighters and other 12V power plugs. However, an accessory socket isn’t compatible with cigarette lighters and would only allow 12V power plugs to function.

The naked eye cannot identify the minor difference in the diameter of the receptacle.  So, you can’t tell if the socket you have in the vehicle is a car cigarette lighter or a 12V accessory socket.

12V accessory socket

How does a car cigarette lighter work?

The system of a cigarette lighter was based on a “coil and reel” mechanism, also known as “wireless”, car lighters became the de facto automotive standard in the automobile industry. The coil and reel mechanism allowed the removable lighter to be pushed inside the cylindrical receptacle, becoming super hot to light the cigarette. 

This particular system opened a door for the creation of a removable 12V power plug that could draw DC power from the cylindrical receptacle. You can connect various types of devices without inserting the wire permanently. 

How to use a car cigarette lighter?

A car lighter is much more than what you know it to be. It serves multiple functions. So, forget about only lighting the cigarette while driving. You can also take advantage of using it as a car charger cigarette lighter.

Car lighters can provide power to other car accessories. So, make sure your cigarette lighter socket is in working condition while setting off for a trip or long drive. You can use a car cigarette lighter plug adapter or a car cigarette lighter splitter to power up several devices together. The cigarette splitter is divided into three connectors. You can use it to power CB Radio, GPS and other accessories in your car.

How to keep cigarette lighter on when the car is off?

The cigarette lighter remains on even when the vehicle is off. This wouldn’t be the case in older models with traditional cigarette lighters. They would turn off automatically when the engine stops. However, the modern car designs usually come with a fuse box with two positions/slots, out of which one stays “always-on” while the other socket turns on/off with the ignition. You can also order a custom cigarette lighter at the dealership while buying one to turn the power on/off at will.

Do cars still have cigarette lighters?

Many car manufacturers are replacing cigarette lighters in cars with USBs and other features due to the increased awareness of the adverse impact of smoking. However, many cannot accept the Car cigarette lighter replacement as car ashtray with lighter were the most popular features before the ’90s. So, some automakers still manufacture vehicles equipped with a cigarette lighter for cars to add value to their interior, satisfying the preferences of various car buyers. 

How to install a cigarette lighter in an automobile?

Newer automobile models might not include a cigarette lighter in the vehicle. But, there might be a hole in the dashboard to fit one. The wiring is already built-in, so you only have to fit in the lighter. 

Watch this video and follow the exact steps. 


How many volts is a cigarette lighter?

The standard power output of a car lighter is 12 Volts. Most of the car cigarette lighters work with an 8 to10 amps fuse. It produces 120 watts or 12 volts of power.                                                 

Does the car vacuum plug into the lighter?

A mini car vacuum with 12 volts can function conveniently by plugging it in the lighter. Though, it can drain the car’s battery. So, refrain from leaving it open for too long and remember to switch it off.  

Does the car lighter work when the vehicle is off?

Yes, as explained before, the cigarette lighter works even when the automobile is off, depending on your car’s model. 

Is it safe to keep a lighter in your car?

It is safe to keep a lighter in the car as long as you use it with caution. Do not let it overheat and use flammable content near it. 

Car lighters in a nutshell:

Initially, the vehicle outlet was also known as a car lighter outlet as it was solely created to control electrically warmed lighter. However, a car lighter adapter with many advanced and unique styles has been developed to fit in your vehicle conveniently. So, the users can benefit from car lighters in various ways. 

Car lighter socket is super effective for providing power supply to multiple gadgets like drink warming devices, cell phones or many more. Products like a car lighter Bluetooth adapter and a car lighter auxiliary cord allow you to connect your iPods and cellphones to the automobile’s stereo for playing music.  Other car cigarette lighter accessories include cooling fans, 12 V heaters, mini televisions etc. 

On the downside, people who use car lighter chargers of 12V for charging their phones can face overcharging issues as these adapters provide too much power that can damage the battery of your smartphones. 

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