Help tracing fried line to lighter (it all started with a few beers) | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Help tracing fried line to lighter (it all started with a few beers)


December 31, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Sacramento, CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'01 XLT
Hello Folks-

Did some searching and found a couple of posts discussing fuse 17 blowing, but nothing that quite matches my problem. I have 2001 XLT.

A few years ago I was camping with some buddies in the redwoods, once a year guys trip. One of the things we do is bring up some DVDs, an LCD projector, a generator and big white sheet, and watch flicks next to a campfire.

So… this one time, movie night got started up and the generator crapped out on us. As we’d all had a few beers at this point, my great idea was to plug the LCD into an inverter I happened to have, plug the inverter into the cigarette lighter, and turn the Explorer on for a couple hours… (did I mention we were a few beers into it?)

Well, I checked the car every 30 minutes or so, movie night went off without a hitch, all was good. On the drive home went to plug phone charger into lighter port, got nothing. Figured I blew a fuse, no biggie. Used the secondary port to charge phone all good. When I got home saw fuse 17 was blown, replaced it and “POP” sparked right off. So now cold sober, I realize, oh, LCD to inverter to lighter with car on, bad idea. Ok, I don’t smoke and have the secondary charging port for phone use, so don’t need the lighter, no biggie.

Now, fast forward 5 years- driving over the past couple weeks, it’s been hesitating and sputtering a little, and the check engine light comes on (first time in 330K miles!). Ok no biggie, I’ll plug OBD in get the code and figure out the problem. Welp, OBD doesn’t light up, and I learn from the forum that fuse 17 serves both lighter and OBD. Crap…

Ok, so all that being said- I don’t have a strong knowledge of electrical systems. I realize that powering the LCD off the lighter port drew more power than the system could handle, but I’m not sure how to go about fixing it. I’m comfortable with getting my hands and head around most things, I’ve learned a lot from this forum and YouTube to be able to keep her going for over 300K, but electrical… ugh.

I took the bezel off to look at the lighter “can” itself, and nothing looks fried there. Beyond that, I’m not sure where to go. There is an auto electrical shop in my neighborhood I may resort to, but I can imagine it won’t be a cheap fix.

Can someone give me an idea of how to start tackling this? Would sure appreciate it.

Thanks in advance!


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If the fuze keeps popping, you have got a short somewhere. I'm guessing you melted the insulation off the 12v+ lead, and it's now rubbing against some bare metal. I would inspect all (and yes, I do mean all of) the wiring for the 12v socket.

If you find I am correct, the proper repair would involve running a new wire (or wires, if both the 12v+ and Ground wires are crispy-duck) from the socket to wherever the heck they go.

LB/W wire is hot at all times thru fuse #17 (7.5A) to cig lighter.
BK goes to splice w/ your auxiliary power lighter Jack and then the ground.

[Aux power jack 'hot at all times' wire is BR/PK and goes through fuse 22 (20A)]

And yes, if fuse 17 keeps popping you have a short to ground on your light blue with white stripe wire to the lighter. Yes, you should have blown that fuse before melting the insulation off the wire somewhere, but...

[ Hopefully, this didn't melt a bunch of wires together. But, then you'd be having more gremlins]

I'll bet both terminals at your lighter are grounded now. It should not be too hard to isolate the short and replace the shorted hot wire. The approach hear is to go long.

[I just had to do this for my OD button wire.]

You'll need a tear about part the lower dash to get to the connector at the back of the lighter. I'll assume you're good with this and just cover the electrical.

Unplug the connector and check for a short to ground on the hot wire and to ground on the black wire. If the black ground wire is good at the connector leave it alone. Peel back some tape and cut the hot wire a couple inches back (to leave yourself room to splice on a new wire) and test the connector from the end of your cut to the connector for continuity. Hopefully it's good. If not, chase it back some more and repeat. If your hot wire to the connector gets too short here, you may have to lose it or replace that connector. There's a good chance that a connection has melted/shorted right at the base of the connector.

Next you'll have to find your LB/W hot wire in the bundle near the fuse box or under the steering column somewhere,. and with some room to work. Cut and peel back some tape and then cut the hot wire somewhere - with room, good luck there - and with good luck, hopefully your cut is ahead (toward the fuse box end) of your short. Check that fuse box end of the hot wire for a short to ground. Hopefully not and you're all set. Run a new wire.

If that fuse box end of your cut is still grounded, chase it back further toward the fuse box.

You've gotta cut your short to ground on your LB/W hot wire out of the circuit.

You should tape up the loose ends of your (former) hot wire.

And, congratulations on making the 300K Club !!


I'm only halfway there...

Needless to say... disco the battery before you start chopping up wires. Other than that, what he said ^.

The cigarette lighter power source is a light duty maybe 100watt circuit. I learned that quickly from long ago trying to run a small air pump. It can't handle that, and I never tried again after learning the fuse is just 7amps.

Thanks for posting that it also powers the OBDII port. If that's true, than never run anything close to blowing that fuse. Repairing damaged wiring is not fun, finding it is the worst part.

If anyone wanted to you could rewire the power source for the cigarette lighter. Separate it from the OBDII part, and use a different power circuit, like the auxiliary outlet, or the heated seat fuse if you have a Limited. I have no console in my work truck(Limited), so I may some day reuse that bigger power circuit to run my cigarette lighter outlet. I also have the heated seat circuit, but I used that to feed a sub amp that I have yet to get to. There are choices, you just need to figure out what's built in and make better use of it.

Thank you guys so much for the replies. I'll give it a shot Sunday and let you know how it goes.

Needless to say... disco the battery before you start chopping up wires. Other than that, what he said ^.

^ +1... Yeah, I consistently neglect to do that and always pay for it with blown fuses and a trip to the parts store for more.

Breaking news:

I thought the information I posted pertain to ALL Gen 2 explorers, but...

For 2001, there are two different printings of the owners manual. Guess what?

The 2nd printing shows a different version of the fuse panel !!

This moves the DataLink Connector (OBD) power from fuse number 5 (which was exclusively for the DLC), to fuse number 17, now shared with the cigar lighter. Fuse 17 now goes to 20A. [x 13.5v = 270W]

So, I'll go ahead and assume [Edit: wrongly, see diagram after next post] that pin 16 of your DLC (upper left corner, looking at the front of the connector) is still an Orange [Edit: a (LB/W)] wire, hot at all times. But, now that will be spliced somewhere, probably very near to or at the fuse panel, to the cigarette lighter (LB/W) hot wire. This would minimize the chance of a short somewhere between the splice and the fuse panel from affecting both circuits.

So, hopefully, this splice is ahead of (closer to the fuse panel than) your short to ground. Sorry, but I don't have the service manual for 2001 to confirm this.

You should still proceed as I laid out above. You should first check to confirm that pin 16 is grounded now also, instead of hot.

After cutting the cigarette lighter (LB/W) wire, recheck pin 16 for a short to ground. Hopefully not and your short is then behind you (towards the lighter) and you're all set. And, you should now get continuity from pin 16 to one of the legs of fuse 17.

Otherwise, as above, chase the (LB/W) wire back further towards the fuse panel.

Lemme try to post this from the second printing of 2001 owners manual:



I found this if it helps identify wire colors.

...So, I'll go ahead and assume that pin 16 of your DLC (upper left corner, looking at the front of the connector) is still an Orange wire, hot at all times.

Well, wrong again! I'll go ahead and edit the above post for the future.

Transman304 has a nice post above showing a light blue with white wire going to your DLC pin 16, from fuse 17. And, the splice (or, common connection) looks to be at the fuse box, if we can take this diagram literally.

But, that means another light blue with white wire disappearing into the bundle going to the fuse panel.

I'd look for the lighter wire to the right of where the OBD-DLC wires disappear into the bundle. Make some room and cut it.

Hopefully, the end to the right and towards the lighter is grounded. If so, good, and then the end going to fuse panel should have continuity to DLC pin 16 now.

If not, it's going to get tricky. More and more wires and less and less room.

Te cigarette lighter itself may have shorted because there is a small plastic insulator separator at the bottom of the 'can' which, if melted, causes a short right in the socket. Dicsonnect the power to the lighter and do a continuity test of the ground tab and the power screw to see if they are now connected. This could save you miles of wire tracing if the rest of the wires are good.