View original topic: Replacing Winston's Cigarette Lighter: The Horror Page: 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
msinabottle Thu Jan 12, 2006 12:21 am

Well, since folk seemed so interested in the experience...

I ordered a new one from Go Westy, I knew they'd add on to the price of an aftermarket one, but they'd also researched which aftermarket one to get, and promised detailed instructions. They pretty much delivered, I have no complaints about Go Westy and will cheerily do business with them at any time.

Still--their instructions didn't say a word about removing Winston's old lighter, which was very loose, the lighter itself didn't heat, and anything plugged into it fell out, fairly predictably. When the LED volt meter I bought from Go Westy wouldn't light its LED display completely, I decided it was time to replace the lighter.

I'd read via the Search here, for the Search is strong with me, that you had to poke inside the lighter with a screwdriver, unhook a latch, then rotate the lighter a quarter turn counter-clockwise, and pop it out. Well, that didn't work--and for all my faults, yes, I DID disconnect the battery before trying THAT little drill. I hoped to be able to wire in one of those knob equipped quick disconnects on my battery's ground cable, but there just isn't remotely room for that in the battery case. Anyway, I pulled the cable and got to work.

Okay, there were two latches inside the lighter body, and I pried them both free of the lip they clung to and that did... Nothing. So I opened the glove box door and groped up blindly. I could feel the lighter socket body moving, but I also realized that there was lower body coming out of the cylinder, I suspect that's the mechanism for the illuminated green ring around the OEM lighter.

I got myself some more room in the glove box by detaching the two rubber(ized?) cables from either side of the glove box door, which allowed the entire glove box to open downwards and empty its contents all over Winston's floor and the street beyond. I could feel wires, I could feel the body, and tried to angle it... Unscrew it... Detach the lower body, the last worked, suddenly and painfully, and then I could work the socket itself out on the visible side of the dash.

Did you know that the central plastic heating duct assembly on an '84 slides right off and out, giving you access to the central part of the dash? I didn't, and nothing I'd read had told me, but out and off it came, and that helped--I could see the wires going to the socket, all paired--two red ones, two brown ones, and two gray/blue ones, all, I think, paired but terminating singly at the socket. They all had scuffed insulation, probably from my twisting and shouting, but perhaps not--I cut out the damaged ends of them all, twisted them together, and got ready to connect in the new lighter. There was a plastic connector holding the two wires that go to the lighter itself, that goes if you're going to use a 'Universal' aftermarket replacement.

Go Westy's instructions at last availed! They gave me two butt connectors and one female spade connector and instructions as to which wires went to what on their aftermarket unit, which appeared to be heavily built, even if its chrome finish didn't go with Winston's interior. Note I'm being just vague enough to respect Go Westy's product and data, while allowing the rest of you to learn from my experiences.

It didn't go smoothly. For the paired wires I had--and I wanted to keep 'em paired, I had no idea of what might happen if I didn't, the butt joints and the female spade connector Go Westy gave me were too small. I managed to make the butt connectors work, but I had to get a spade connector of my own. I did enough damage to the butt connectors to warrant covering them with electrician's tape after I clamped 'em on, and the spade connector slipped off the paired wires and was ruined, I fortunately had a larger one of my own. For two wires together, you want a larger gauge butt or spade connector.

I did have one special tool, albeit a very common one--that crimper/stripper/cutter you can find even at K-Mart, and it's really, really useful at times such as these. The aftermarket lighter you want has the illuminated ring, therefore the node at the bottom with it's own connector, there was a single plug connector at the back of the lighter socket, and a spade connector on the side. The VW's wires go to their respective destinations on the lighter socket body and illumination node. My female spade connector wasn't externally insulated like Go Westy's, more 'finger in the dash' electrician's tape.

Socket back goes on the far side of the dash, connector that goes to the end of the socket body goes through that, connector on the lower illuminating body goes to its destination, and then you screw the socket itself into the socket back, which 'pinches' the lighter onto the dash and can be a pretty strong fit if the battery's disconnected. Otherwise, the phrase 'snap-crackle-pop' comes to mind. Y'know, DC shocks are NOT fun.

I want to get two of those nearly-flush plastic thumb screws for the two screws that anchor Winston's battery holder cover plate to the rest of it. Anyway, the lighter did work just fine, the Voltmeter didn't, in Winston or another vehicle, and I'm sure Go Westy will replace it.

All right--that's how I did it. Right now I have one of those goose-necked 6-LED map lights plugged into it, and it shows no sign of falling out. I need to go to a BMW motorcycle dealership for a Euro DIN adapter plug for Winston's silver socket, the BMW car dealerships will have no idea at all of what you're talking about. Of course, any of us could also go here:

Which would seem to be a viable option for getting some use out of that particular feature of the older Westies. In time, I'll do what other wise folk have done and wire in a 12V socket next to the fridge vent over on the cabinet, but I are too ignorant of how to do that just yet and I haven't tried wiring in a 2nd battery yet... Concerning plans for which, another post to come.

I did find out where that blue wire coiled up in the engine compartment ended up--behind the plastic central vent assembly, and it was attached to... nothing. On either end. My theory is the 1st owner had an aftermarket tach or some other gauge on it. I may end up using it for the same thing, or for power out of the engine compartment, or...

Hope that helps!

r39o Thu Jan 12, 2006 9:38 am

I have hurt myself twice trying to remove a cigar lighter plug in the You Pick Your Own Parts place. So I gave up, until now. Reading the descriptions, I still have do not a good idea how to get the little buggers out. I want to replace mine, even though it works fine; it is loose and sloppy in the hole. "Tight holes are good." In fact, I want to mount two of them thingies in my van as others before me have done to theirs. No original thought there.

Question is: Do you have pictures of the extracted part, perhaps with pointers indicating where to push or pull??????

supplicationjam Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:39 am

You have to drop your glove box, reach up behind the lighter and pull the snap on bulb and housing off of the lighter (see pic). Just feel for this thing and try to pull it off. It snaps off and snaps back on. Then you have two hot wires and one ground. The wire that is always hot hooks up to the heating element and the other (white/blue) hooks up to the light and comes on with instrument lights.

r39o Thu Sep 14, 2006 11:56 am

So I was at my fav Wallymart and I spy they have Casco brand lighters.

Problem is, I don't know which one the replacement for the Vanagon is?

Any ideas?

backcountrymedic Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:30 pm

All of this struggling sounds so vaguely familiar... Oh yeah! From when I did the exact same thing this past summer! Bashed the crap outa my knuckles at one point.

Make sure to keep something plugged into that socket at night, otherwise the light that comes out of the socket will drive you nuts.


tencentlife Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:49 pm

I feel your pain, and at some point will feel my own. I too have puzzled over the eternal mystery of lighter socket retention, without visual aids. Mine is working but sloppy and I'd love to get it to stay firm in place. I started reading this and thought "OH man, I gotta ask ms to put up a picture of the old one so's i can see how it's held in!". I'm still not clear, thanks anyway to supplicationjam, I was hoping for a better detailed photo. Can anyone oblige?

Phil G Thu Sep 14, 2006 11:54 pm

Here's a tip for you guys if you would rather stay German -
Get yourself a cigarette lighter from a Eurovan. They too have the nifty green light ring, but instead of a shiny bezel, there's is matt black. They actually look more like what the Vanagon should have had in the first place. I've always wondered why the lighters in the Vanagons were the only thing on the entire dash to have a shiny metal bezel. Accessories also fit better in the Eurovan lighter.
I got mine from a Samba seller for $10. It looks new with no signs of use - works bitchin. For extra ports I'll get a few more 'Euro lighters' to install in a power port behind and below the driver's seat. They're easy to find in the dark, and the dash will remain uncluttered. On my Wolfsburg there are removable trays located between the back of the front seats and the jumpseat that are perfect spots for capturing charging phones, marine radios, or power accessories for a laptop used at the table. Stuff in those trays are fairly out of view, but very accessible.


r39o Fri Sep 15, 2006 10:44 am

If you look, the lighters are designed and made in Germany. There are instructions on the web page too. I have the special tool now for the lighter. Damned if I have figgered out how to use that Teutonic marvel yet, though.

I think because you need the special tool to work with those lighters, that is what is causing the real issues. Looks like I should be able to pull the lighter out from the front using the tool inserted into the front. Should be easy. I just have not figgered out how to do it yet!

Stay tuned!

r39o Mon Sep 18, 2006 10:46 am

OK, got it half way out. Now what?
How do I get that ring off?

I looked at the Casco instructions,
and I can't make it work. I have
to seperate the green plastic ring.
Don't quite see how to do this, yet?

Any help?

The wires are what I unplugged from the lighter.

psych-illogical Mon Sep 18, 2006 12:51 pm

It's been a while since I replaced my lighter. Can't exactly remember how I got it out but I do remember fighting with it for a while. I just went down to AutoZone and bought a $5 replacement lighter. I figured, "What the hell do I need a lighted ring for anyway?" Of course, the standard lighters don't fit in the hole. I'm fortunate to have access to a machine shop so I took a large washer, chucked it up in a lathe and drilled it to fit the new lighter. Painted the new home-made bezel flat black and installed everything. Works great. I also installed a couple more el-cheapo lighters under the dash on the drivers side. In this day of cell phones/XM radios/radar detectors/etc., you just can't have too many lighter sockets. Some PO had long since snipped the wires going to the Euro plug in the dash. I do have a really nice electric vest that I use on my motorcycle that would plug right in but, since this is a waterboxer, I have real heat. Being an old BMW motorcycle guy, the only thing I can think of ever having seen plugged into that funny socket is heated clothing. I wonder what other accessories are out there that use those funny plugs.

r39o Mon Sep 18, 2006 1:07 pm

psych-illogical wrote: Euro plug in the dash. I wonder what other accessories are out there that use those funny plugs.
Several. Fans. Spot lamps. Map lights and so on. Youi can still buy them new. I have a URL somewhere. There are alos converter plugs. It seemed to be manily a 50's thing. My old 1959 Mercedes has one in the engine compartment. My 356 had one hidden on the bottom of the dash. I have collected period accesories from the 50's for my old Mercedes. Don't know why they put one in early 80's campers. My 85 Westy does NOT have the Euro plug.

Now back OT to my stupid lighter. I guess I could destroy the plastic, but there is no learning going to happen from that!

pete000 Wed Sep 20, 2006 7:45 pm

I had trouble removing mine and I even had the dash out of the car! that little brown lamp socket has to be removed first. That thing is hard to get out !

r39o Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:31 pm


I got the cigar lighter socket out with out breaking it. Woo Hoo.....

What a MAJOR PITA it is though.

I will share with you the mystery now. You need to do as shown in the pictures that follow:

r39o Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:35 pm

Once you get the snaps pushed out, which makes little sense while you are cursing away in the van, then you can push the center part (metal) out. Once you do that, you can wiggle the assembly out. You can NOT get the assembly out of the hole with out disengaging the sanps. Once out, you can play some more to get it into two pieces. It seems it is inserted half assembled and then snapped in. I don't think they ever really intended you to take it out as one whole piece.

r39o Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:40 pm

Here is the Casco tool I got for taking the 171 919 305 C cigar lighter assembly apart. I got this from a lighter kit at Walmart.

For my next trick, I will be installing a new one and an extra one for aux power. We'll see how that works.

This tool is so-so. I still used a few small screw drivers for this job.


r39o Sat Oct 07, 2006 8:51 pm

The lighter adventure continues....

The much taunted $16.95 lighter can be bought at Pep Boys for $9.95.

So I will let my wholesale VW parts connection tell me how much new Eurotrash van ones cost per suggestion...

vwmaniaman Sun Oct 08, 2006 4:27 am

Bought the last one locally here in Paducah, KY at an AutoZone just like the Pep Boys and it was $6.95. Worked really well with American, well OK China accessories.

Texxxxx Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:23 pm

Thx for making this thread.

I don't need a cigarette lighter any longer, but I do need a deeper 12v outlet up front.

I replaced my lighter with one of these:

...just the recepticle. I have three more to install after I get my auxillary battery project...hopefully this weekend. This one I just ran off the main.

I was beating my head against the dash trying to get the old one out until I "used the search, Luke"!

allsierra123 Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:48 pm

I got mine about halfway out and unhooked the wires and zipped off with my angle grinder and a cutoff blade, Took about 3o seconds.

VisPacem Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:15 pm

r39o wrote: So I was at my fav Wallymart and I spy they have Casco brand lighters.

Problem is, I don't know which one the replacement for the Vanagon is?

Any ideas?

I was at "my" WalMart (Las Vegas) and they do not have --any-- cigarette lighter. I followed your link and emailed Casco to obtain a list of retailers.
They never responded.
As fat as the Pig A part cigarette lighters are concerned I found a small "pod" designed to hold three gauges **and** the cigarette lighter, similar to the one in my old Beetle 1968, with the fat black ring into which the heating element sinks in. I seem to recall I got it out of a rabbit convertible.

Whenever I get installed I'll post pictures.

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group