Possible reasons why a 12-volt socket could stop working

In the early years of the automobile, when smoking was popular, cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs would come equipped with a little plug and socket that was powered by the battery. This little socket would connect in such a way that it draws a current through the plug, to generate heat, this, in turn, would be used to light a cigarette. Now, however, as smoking has been linked to negative health effects, the cigarette lighter has taken on a new life as an accessory port of sorts that helps charge mobile devices.

While it may seem like a bulletproof form of technology, there are still a few flaws to its design and things can still go wrong. With that said, we have created a quick guide to help you understand why your 12-volt socket in your car could stop working.

12-volt socket

A 12-volt socket in its design consists of a barrel of the socket that is its negative side of the circuit and the end of the socket containing a small contact that is connected to the positive side of the circuit. Once you have plugged in your car charger or other 12-volt related devices, the circuit closes and electricity can flow freely through it. 

broken charger

If your 12-volt socket stops working, one of the first things you should check on is the charger you are using with it. Most car chargers don’t come with fuses and surge protectors, this means that if the socket is overloaded then it could cause the charger to short circuit or burn out. 

One way to check if this has happened is to smell for any signs of burnt plastic or burnt rubber, if this smell persists then this means that your socket might be damaged and requires repair. Another thing you can do before you assume that your socket is dead is to check the charger with another vehicle that you know has a functional 12-volt socket. If it works there and not in your car then you will know for sure that your socket has become damaged.

something blocking the 12-volt socket

Another thing you can do to diagnose why your 12-volt socket isn’t working is to see if there is anything that is blocking the charger from making contact with the positive terminal at the bottom of the socket barrel. If there is, simply clear it out and test it to see if your device will be able to charge again. If there is nothing in the way, then something else may be wrong with the 12-volt socket that will require a professional to handle the repair. 

functioning 12-volt socket

If you have done all the previous steps and the socket itself still refuses to work, it may have been blown or disconnected. In this case, this means that the wires connecting the socket to the battery have failed and are no longer working. 

There is no quick fix to this as a professional will need to further diagnose the problem and initiate a repair. If your vehicle is still under warranty you can take it to the dealership to have it fixed there free of charge. If it isn’t then you will need to go to a car electrician to have them repair it. 

It is important that, note that in some cases it might just be a blown fuse which is a quick repair. The problem, however, is figuring out where that specific fuse is. While this repair can be done on your own and in an affordable manner by looking at your owner’s manual for the fuse, it’s still best to leave it to the professionals as there could be more underlying issues than just a blown fuse. 

Once your socket has been fixed, whichever issues you have encountered, it will be unlikely to break again and will offer you thousands of more worry-free phone charging or device powering kilometers. 

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