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Installing a cigarette lighter socket

Sockets and accessories
Two kinds of aftermarket cigarette lighters are available, those with an illumination bulb (A) and those without (B). Many useful accessories simply plug into the lighter socket. Vacuum cleaner (C), under-bonnet inspection light (D), dash-mounted cooling fan (E) and map reading light (F) can all be used in this way.

Although you may not smoke, fitting a cigarette lighter inside your car could be more useful than you think. Car accessory shops are now selling a variety of helpful, practical electrical accessories that are designed especially to work from a cigarette lighter socket.

Examples include map reading lights, inspection lamps, car vacuum cleaners and personal cooling fans . All these simply plug into the lighter socket and you may wish to fit such a lighter simply to power these accessories.

Fitting a cigarette lighter has the further advantage of cutting down on the number of holes you need to drill into the dashboard or centre console to fit accessories, since a number of different accessories can be run off the same lighter socket.

Ways of fitting

On many cars, if a lighter is not included as a standard fitment, you may well find that there is already a hole in the dashboard designed to accept one.

You will probably find that the hole has been blanked off with a plug. To fit the lighter, all you need to do is to prise out the plug and fit the lighter in its place - the necessary wiring for the lighter will usually be already built-in round the back of the hole.

Older cars, however, may not have a special hole ready to accept a cigarette lighter. In this case you will have to cut your own hole, either in the dashboard or in the centre console, fit the lighter socket and wire it up.


You will find that there is a wide range of aftermarket cigarette lighters in car accessory shops. A point to watch out for when buying one is that some have a built-in light, often a small ring around the base of the lighter. You may find this useful in the dark, particularly if you are fitting the lighter in the rear passenger compartment. Otherwise, there is little to choose between different aftermarket lighters.

Fitting a cigarette lighter socket

1. Positioning
If there is no ready-made hole, find a suitable position on the dash or the centre console. Make sure the lighter unit will not obstruct anything when fitted. It is best to find a position in the centre of the dash to give both driver and passenger easy access.
2. Mark out
Cover your chosen area with masking tape to protect the surface. Use a pair of compasses to draw a circle on the masking tape slightly smaller than the diameter of the lighter socket body. This is to ensure you get a good tight fit for the lighter.
3. Cut out hole
Start by drilling a pilot hole in the centre of the marked circle. Use a slightly bigger drill to open the hole out further. Continue this process until the hole is the same size as the circle. If you haven't got a drill big enough to drill the hole out completely use a rat-tail file to open out the hole.
4. Fit the socket
Remove the masking tape from the dash or centre console. Remove the lighter element and casing from the socket body. Insert the socket into the hole from the front of the dash. Make sure the trim ring (if fitted) is in position under the head of the socket. Open the hole out a little more with the file if necessary.
5. Securing the socket
Working behind the dash or underneath the console, offer up the casing or threaded ring to the socket body. The casing screws on to the back of the socket. Tighten the casing on to the socket, making sure it is tight and there is no chance of it becoming loose which could cause a short circuit.
6. Wiring up
Disconnect the battery for safety. Run a wire from a permanentlive feed to the centre terminal on the socket. Fit an in-line fuse to this wire (35 amp). Join a wire to the earth terminal on the casing and run it to a convenient point on the body. Reconnect the battery and test the lighter.
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