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Emergency air compressor blew cig-lighter fuse?

Trying to stay on top of my maintenance, I was topping off the air pressure for the spare tires in my 2 vehicles. I only have access to those tiny, cheap compressors (2) they put in emergency roadside kits. The cigarette lighter in vehicle A (Equinox) was not working, and being that it had been left uncovered, I think some food crumbs and possibly rust killed it. Not sure.

Cig lighter in vehicle B (Malibu) was worked fine. Compressor A started smoking after I ran it too long, so I unplugged it and ran Compressor B, making sure to exchange compressors frequently and give them time to cool. However, I was running the cig lighter pretty constant for ~20+ min. Then the compressor just shut off. I tried the other compressor (which was functional) but it too wouldn’t work. So I’m afraid I fried the cig lighter on the Malibu at this point.

Sound about right?

Thanks all.

I bet you blew a fuse.

Common problem…As air pressure builds, those little 12V compressors start pulling more amps than they should and the 20 amp lighter fuse will blow…Locate and replace the blown fuse…

I have a small 12v inflater that connects directly to the battery and is protected by its own fuse. Harbor Freight has several half-way decent models to choose from…

Ok, can this be rectified by only charging for 5 min / time or less? That is: is the risk of blowing a fuse equal from the get-go, or does it build over time? Sounds like it builds over time. Thanks!

Yes, the higher the pressure, the more amps ANY compressor will draw…Also with this type, it helps to have the compressor running BEFORE you connect the air-hose to the tire valve. If you try and start a compressor after it’s connected to the tire, they can stall and blow the fuse…

thanks @Caddyman for the precise advice!

Given that your spare tire (if it’s a temporary type) is to be inflated to 60 psi–twice the pressure of a normal tire–I’d forget about the portable compressors altogether. I don’t think they were designed for that kind of pressure. Fill it up at the corner gas station for a dollar or have the shop check it next time you’re in for oil change or maintenance.

In addition to the good advice already given, I want to add that if the vehicles in question have more than one accessory outlet, it is very possible that one has a higher amperage rating than the other.

After blowing the fuse for the “cigarette lighter” outlet on the dashboard while using my tire inflator pump, I consulted my Owner’s Manual, and noted that the accessory outlet in the cargo area has a higher amperage rating. So, now I use only the outlet in the cargo area when using my tire inflator, and have had no further problems with an overloaded fuse.

Agree with ASE. Put a new fuse in and go to a convenience store. They usually work until it gets cold outside and then you are out of luck.

This happens often. Those air compressors draw a fair amount and then have current spikes that blow the fuses.

The solution is to get an adapter with alligator clips to connect right to your battery.

For example, here’s one: