Automotive

VW cigarette lighter port - weird voltage?

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  • May 18th, 2019 8:14 pm
[OP]
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Jul 7, 2017
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VW cigarette lighter port - weird voltage?

About 4 years ago, my wife and I went to Europe and got a VW Polo as a rental. Our navigation tools in Europe include a PC with an USB-connected GPS, which obviously needs power.

We brought our 12V inverter to power a laptop (we used this every day for ~ 7 months (1 1/2 and 5 1/2) stretch in early 2013 and 2013-2014) and had used it previously on road trips (our Toyota Corolla and a rental Nissan Maxima in North America, Citroen Berlingo (5 months), FIAT Punto (6 weeks), MB A-class, Nissan Qashqai, FIAT 500 and other non-VW vehicles in Europe. At any rate, we used it for ~2-3 hrs the first day and then it quits on us about 2 hrs in the next day in Corsica (bought fuses - micros which I had never seen before - thinking it was the fuse but alas it wasn't). I thought it was age of the inverter so took some time shopping for another unit (not easy to find). Found one in Sardinia until it too died the next day after we got it. Didn't have another one for the rest of the trip.

So we bought another when we got to North America 3 years ago and it worked when we required it but then the two GPS units died of heat - black and sitting on the dash - and old age) and we ddn't a reason to use it on a 3 week trans-Canada RV trip. Haven't had to use it for a road trip but I think it'll be o.k.

Just wondering if there is some funny feature in VW 12V supply that would have fried the inverters?
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5 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 10, 2018
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No.
For legal topics and discussions, the opinion, guidance, and thoughts provided are my own and are not considered to be legal advice, in any manner.
Deal Fanatic
Oct 26, 2008
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BC
A cigarette lighter socket doesn't provide a stable voltage whether in a VW or anything else.

(I use mine to occasionally plug in a battery health gauge - shows battery voltage and alternator output if engine running.)

So depends what the operating tolerance is for the inverter. Some are doubtless better than others, and possibly decline with age.

The inverter you bought in Sardinia was probably defective or poor quality to only last 2 days.

Are outlets identified as 12V accessory in the rear seat area, or tailgate, different from cigarette lighter sockets in terms of stable voltage?
Don't know, but I doubt it.
[OP]
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Jul 7, 2017
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I know 12V can run between 10 and 14.2 V depending on what the alternator is doing. Just surprised to have 2 inverters die on me in the same car.
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Dec 20, 2017
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Could be a bad alternator putting out AC current
[OP]
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Jul 7, 2017
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Sb3182 wrote: Could be a bad alternator putting out AC current
Would that not have fried the car's electronics too? Had Park Pilot which I liked very much. Parked in some tight spot in front of a café in Sardinia and the locals seemed amazed I could get in there w/o hitting/touching/bumping anything.

Didn't fry the Garmin GPS I was using as a backup, fortunately.
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