How do you use a car lighter?

I recently bought my first vehicle, an old Ford Ranger, and there was some type of adapter with a coil stuck in one of the 12V charging ports. I kind of forgot about it, but when my grandpa was asking me about the truck, it came to mind. He made a joke about being old and said it’s a car lighter. I’ve never seen one before—I’m curious, how do you use a car lighter?

Congratulations on the new truck! Finding a vehicle that still has a lighter is exceedingly rare, so I’m guessing the previous owner took good care of the truck.
To use the car lighter:
  • Push the lighter deeper into the socket until you hear or feel it click into place
  • Wait for it to return to the original position
  • Carefully remove the lighter
  • Look at the end to see the nichrome coil glowing red hot
And that’s it! Before everyone started using those barrel-shaped sockets to charge their phones, they were equipped with cigarette lighters. Cars used to have ashtrays, too! However, since smoking started to decline and everyone started carrying a cellphone, the lighter sockets were repurposed into standardized 12V electrical ports in most newer vehicles.
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Jack Walsh
Answered on Nov 22, 2021

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