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Cigarette lighter only lights cigarettes

My pride and joy, a 1994 Toyota Pickup is a great utility vehicle. No fancy radio nor cruise control. But from time to time a guy needs directions. When I plug in my gps power cord into the lighter I gets no juice. But it I push in the lighter knob it gets hot enought to light a pack of cigarettes. Do need to get some kind of retrofitted lighter to be compatable with the power cord?

I actually have no idea but I’d guess that your GPS is too new to get plugged into a car lighter. New cars have in lieu of lighter (or in addition to a lighter) a port for accessories that isn’t also meant to make a heater element glow bright red.

I had a 1990 Toyota Pickup. The lighter worked perfectly as a power port for accessories.

You should get a replacement cigarette lighter. Yours is damaged. If it was used for actually lighting cigarettes, the bottom of the lighter is probably corroded and will not make good contact with the GPS power cord. The cigarette lighter uses the sides of the positive, not the center, to power the heater element. the GPS power cord uses the center.

I had to replace my lighter on my 2000 Explorer because of this. When I bought it, the lighter worked, but no accessories would. Looking down the socket, you could see the corrosion and gunk build-up on the center button due to cigarette residue from someone actually using the lighter to light cigarettes. Replacing it was the easy option.

Plug in the cord. If it doesn’t work, unplug it, rotate the plug about 1/8 of a turn, and plug it back in, making sure you have it inserted as far as it will go. If it doesn’t work, repeat the process until it does. Usually this will get them to work. If not, then consider replacing the lighter socket or wiring up a second one just for accessories.

I support the corrosion theories. You can easily solve this problem by replacing the lighter unit. I do have done this twice on my '95. It resolves all such problems.

I think your plug is fine for the lighter, but not the GPS Style. A cheap alternative could be to buy a splitter (1 plug to 2 sockets) or a small extension. I have seen where the splitter or extension works in the old style lighter socket, and the new end works for modern conveniences.

I’m pretty sure it’s the lighter socket not working properly. The aftermarket device makers design a universal plug to work in lighter/accessory sockets. My GPS has no problem working with any cigarette lighter socket or accessory socket. Those plugs are NOT that complicated.

Back in the day before they were power outlets, when they were just cigarette lighters, they were thinner in diameter than today’s 12 volt power outlets. Hold your cigarette lighter next to the GPS plug, and I bet the GPS plug is wider.

If I am right, I recommend you get an adapter, like an extension cord or one that lets you plug more than one device into the lighter. If the male end of the adapter/cord is narrow enough, it might fit into the lighter, allowing you to plug the GPS into the female end.

Look into the lighter socket.
At the back center is a small metal button.
Does it look shiny or is it dark and crusty?
Try scratching it with a screwdriver.

In my '96 Toyota I have to put in the plug at a specific angle to get it to work, as Oblivion said. Try that.

Little trick here. Get an old fashioned wood pencil with an eraser on one end. Use the eraser to clean the center conductor of the lighter socket.

I would suggest installing a 12VDC power outlet to upgrade your pickup. My 2000 GMC Sonoma has both a lighter and 2 12VDC power outlets. My portable air pump works great with the power outlet but is hit or miss with the lighter socket. I think that’s your problem.

I’d recommend pulling the fuse before you go poking a screwdriver into the lighter socket, if you choose this course of action.

If you look at the lighter that goes in the socket, it is metal all the way around for the ground connection. Your GPS plug likely only has 1 or 2 little metal strips on the side of the plastic plug. Some lighter sockets don’t seem to have a connection all the way around the circular socket. So rotating the plug and trying it in different positions may allow a better connection.

Add a 12 Volt Power outlet

I’m with you oblivion, The lighter socket on my van does and always has had dead spots in it. And I believe the GPS plug only has contact points on each side. I just turn the plug a little and it works.

Right, oblibion.

Thanks guys. Lots of good ideas here. I did try slowly rotating the cord watching for the red light to appear on the cord as it would in my Camry. No such luck. It does look a bit crusty down the center. I will remove the fuse and scrape away what I can then use the eraser. If that fails I’ll break down and replace the socket. I’ll let you guys know how it goes. Thanks again.

Good call.

There’s a fuse in the GPS plug. Unscrew the top of the plug and see if that fuse is blown.