How to Repair a Cigarette Lighter in My 1997 Chevy Cavalier

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A inoperable cigarette lighter can be a significant problem and safety hazard, as the lighter negates the need to fiddle with a small hand-held lighter will driving. Repairing the lighter in a 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier calls for inspecting a number of different components to the lighter and attempting to repair each one at the sign of damage or failure. If no steps can fix the cigarette lighter, it can be easily replaced with a few easy steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Electrical tape
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Wrench set

Check the Lighter

  • Purchase a replacement cigarette lighter at an auto part store, matching the original.

  • Push the new lighter deep into the cigarette lighter socket.

  • Inspect the inside coil on the new cigarette lighter after 30 seconds. If the coils are red (indicating heat), the old cigarette lighter was damaged. If this does not correct the problem, return the cigarette lighter to the point of purchase.

Inspect the Wiring

  • Remove the lower trim panel retaining screws with a screwdriver. Disengage the locking tab and slot in the middle of the trim panel and pull the two trim panels apart.

  • Inspect the wiring from the back of the cigarette lighter socket to the firewall. Look for any places where the wiring might be crimped, cut or otherwise damaged.

  • Repair any damaged section of wire. Cut out the damaged portion with wire cutters. Strip the ends of the original wire with wire strippers and connect the same thickness and gauge of wire into the section. Cover the new connection with electrical tape.

  • Push the cigarette lighter into the socket and inspect it after 30 seconds, seeing if the coils inside the lighter are red and warm. If they are, the problem was the damaged wiring.

Check the Fuse

  • Locate the fuse box on the side of the instrument panel and remove the fuse panel cover.

  • Inspect the diagram on the back of the fuse panel cover and locate the correct fuse for the cigarette lighter.

  • Remove the appropriate fuse with needle-nose pliers and inspect it. If the metal bridge inside the fuse is broken, replace it with a new fuse. If the metal bridge is not broken, push the fuse back into position.

Replace the Socket and Lighter

  • Detach the electrical connection at the back of the cigarette lighter socket.

  • Unscrew the ring holding the cigarette lighter socket in place with a wrench. Remove the cigarette lighter and socket.

  • Push the new cigarette lighter socket into place. Reinsert the retaining nut in place with a wrench.

  • Reattach the electrical connection to the back of the socket.

  • Push the new lighter into the socket and inspect the coils inside the lighter after 30 seconds. They should be red, indicating heat and a working cigarette lighter.

References

  • "Haynes Repair Manual: Chevrolet Cavalier 1995 thru 2002"; John H. Haynes, Rob Maddox and Mike Stubblefield; 2003
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