Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Can a 12V tire inflator burn my car electrical system

asked by on

Hello, I have plugged a 12V tire inflator to the car cigarette lighter socket and almost immediately I saw heavy smoke and a burning smell filled my vehicle coming from the dash.

How can this happen ? Should the fuse burn first ?

Is it dangerous to use high Amp tools in the cigarette lighter socket

Thank you

Yes, it can be dangerous to plug high-current loads into the cigarette lighter! And, yes, this circuit should be fuse protected so that wiring or other components on the power path are not damaged. Not all manufacturers fuse-protect the cigarette lighter circuit however. They are designed for a prescribed load (the lighter coil). Other electronic devices (phone chargers, etc.) have much lower current requirements. Tire compressors however, can draw considerable power, and do so for an extended amount of time. There may also have been some other issues (corroded wiring connection, additional loads on that circuit, poorly made repairs) that caused an overload that was not fused. I would recommend having a electric problems inspection completed by a mobile, professional mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, to diagnose this problem, get an accurate assessment of damage and cost estimate for repairs.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: car starts up fine it will drive rough running and few hundred feet and then completely down

Hello. Typically, a vehicle will start and then quit because of an issue with the fuel or electrical system. It is important to monitor fuel levels as well as warning lights which can signal to the driver that a vehicle...

Q: Throwing codes after replacing the font left wheel bearing

Your truck has a wheel speed sensor and exciter ring that are built into the wheel bearing and hub assembly. If the entire wheel bearing and hub assembly was replaced as a unit like it's suggested, then you could have...

Q: Small fire under hood

Even small fires can cause a lot of damage, but the engine bay is designed to deal with high temperatures. Have an experienced mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, come out for an inspection of all of the underhood components....

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...