Ask a Mechanic: A fuse may not be responsible for a broken seat heater

In today’s column we discuss broken cigar lighters and seat heaters.

By Nida Zafar Wheels.ca

Oct 2, 2021 2 min. read

Article was updated 2 years ago

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Every week, we take your questions about what is going on under the hood of your vehicle and pose them to a knowledgeable mechanic in the Greater Toronto Area. In today’s column we discuss broken cigar lighters and seat heaters.

Dear Ask a Mechanic,

I drive a 2012 Buick Regal with 30,000 kilometers. My cigar lighter in the front ashtray has stopped working. I’m wondering if there’s a fuse that I could fix myself. If so, how could I locate this? The driver’s side seat has also stopped heating but the passenger side is OK. I’m thinking there’s a problem with a fuse here as well. If this is the case how can it be located? If not, what do you think the problem is? 

Kirk Paty, owner of Pickering’s R & G Automotive Centre, said fuses are located in multiple spots throughout the vehicle and the best way to find them is to consult the owner’s manual. The fuse could be the problem with the cigar lighter and that’s the first thing he would inspect. “What happens is people plug their phones and other things in there that are drawing too much voltage (or technically current) and it burns it out.” It’s also a possibility there’s a problem with the outlet itself, he said. A diagnosis isn’t as straightforward with the second issue this driver has. “[A fuse] is unlikely. It’s probably either the heating element in the seat or the switch [that turns the heating on].” Paty explained a coil heating element under the seat pad warms it up. “Those fuses don't usually burn for no reason. If the fuse is burnt out, there's usually a reason why. Something is shorted out inside of it.” In order to get an accurate diagnosis, Paty recommends the driver have a licensed mechanic examine the problem.


Ask a Mechanic is written by Nida Zafar, a reporter who grew up in a house full of mechanics in Scarborough, and occasionally poses your questions to her dad or brother. You can send your questions to wheels@thestar.ca. These answers are for informational purposes only. Please consult a certified mechanic before having any work done to your vehicle.




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