I remember being a little kid in my dad’s car, looking at that little knob with the smoking cigarette on it, dying to press it in. I obviously wasn’t supposed to touch the cigarette lighter, so, obviously, it’s all I wanted to do.
Nowadays, the thought of driving my kid around in the front seat while I half-heartedly try to stop them from playing with a lighter seems kind of crazy.
And since there are fewer and fewer smokers these days, do new cars even have cigarette lighters?
The majority of new cars do not have cigarette lighters as this component was phased out by most automotive manufacturers in the 1990s. Cars made prior to 1990 will often have cigarette lighters and ashtrays present as these features were more common at the time.
Keep reading to learn more about why cigarette lighters were largely phased out by carmakers.
Do Modern Cars Have Lighters?
Most modern cars don’t have cigarette lighters anymore. But, they’ve replaced the old lighter with a new DC connector in most cars.
These look just like the old design, but they don’t support lighters.
You’re not able to use them if you’re trying to smoke. However, they’ve got a ton of benefits that make them very useful.
Cars made before 1990 usually have a cigarette lighter, somewhere in the front. Many of them also have one in the back.
They’ve also installed ashtrays in most cars made before then as well.
After 1990, they began replacing lighters with other accessories. Many carmakers repurposed their lighters so you can use them as chargers.
They’ve put them in most modern vehicles that are on the market today.
Although most carmakers began phasing out lighters in the 1990s, they replaced them with a new device that has a wider variety of uses!
Today, we call the new port an auxiliary power outlet.
You can use them to power electronics while you’re on the road.
For example, there are a ton of chargers you can plug into them to keep your phone powered.
You can even get a power inverter and turn them into a standard outlet.
The DC connector usually supplies 12 volts of power when the engine isn’t running.
This can jump up to 15 volts once you’ve turned it on, though. Most of the time, you’re not able to use large devices if you plug them into the car.
That’s because the car has a fuse that limited the amps going to the DC outlet. Most of them only allow you to draw 240 watts from them at once.
You can even use them to charge a dead battery if you’ve got the right cables.
They’ve redesigned the old lighter port to make it more reliable, too. So, you can use them to charge a laptop without having to worry about the voltage dropping. The old design wasn’t able to supply steady voltage, creating problems.
Why Are Cigarette Lighters Not in Cars Anymore?
Cigarette lighters haven’t been popular since the 90s. That’s when most automobile manufacturers quit putting them in their cars.
They replaced them with a ton of new features that seemed more useful.
A lot of cars have USB ports where they would have had lighters.
You can plug your phone into them and use it to control the music while you’re driving. They’re even able to charge the phone while it’s connected.
If you’re still interested in a lighter, you can find aftermarket models. You can hook them up to the car’s battery, directly. Or, you can find ones that you can plug into the 12 V port.
There are still a few cars that have ashtrays in them, though. You can get a 2015 Continental GT from Bentley with one of them in it.
Aston Martin also made V8 Vantage which had one of them in it in 2015.
Putting a cigarette lighter in a car can cause some issues as well.
Trying to drive a car with one of them can cause it to vibrate. They’ve fallen out of their sockets in some models, creating a hazard.
Carmakers didn’t think they were getting enough demand to justify making them anymore. So, they stopped putting them in their cars and went with something else. Most of them kept using a similar design to create power outlets.
However, a ton of them started putting other accessories into their cars. That’s why we’ve seen so many new accessories in the last few decades.
You can get cars that have Apply Carplay and Android Auto, now.
These options weren’t available back when they were putting lighters into cars.
Some cars started to put multiple DC outlets in their interiors, too. People have way more electronics now than they did back in the 50s and 60s.
So, putting more outlets into cars can be useful.
You’ll find a lot of SUVs with DC outlets in the rear seat. That’s so it’s easy for passengers in the back to power their devices while they’re in the car.
When Did Manufacturers Stop Adding Cigarette Lighters?
Manufacturers quit putting lighters in their cars sometime during the 90s. Each one of them quit doing it at a different time.
But, most cars lost them by the year 2000.
They’ve replaced them with new features in most cars. You weren’t able to find many cars that had Bluetooth back then, for example. Now, it’s tough to find one that doesn’t have it.
Carmakers redesigned the old lighters to turn them into something else. Now, they’ve made them so they’re able to power a ton of devices. Most cars let you use them as a 12 V port to charge your devices while traveling.
You can even get a power inverter, so you can use larger devices.
These let you convert the plug into a regular outlet, like the ones at home. You’re still not able to use them to power large devices since they’ve got limited power output.
Finding an old car with a lighter isn’t too hard if you like driving vintage models. Just look for one that was made before the 90s. More than likely, it’s going to have a traditional cigarette lighter in it.
You can still find them in new cars if you’re willing to pay extra.
Some automakers still let you order them if you make a special request. It’s going to cost you a few hundred dollars if you’d like to add them. And, even then, not every manufacturer offers to do it.
Do Modern Cars Have Ashtrays?
Only a few manufacturers still let you order new cars with ashtrays in them. Most carmakers quit putting ashtrays in their cars when they stopped installing lighters.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find one that has them. Ford released a Fiesta in 2015 that has an ashtray installed.
We already mentioned the cars released by Aston Martin and Bentley that had them. Porsche and Ferrari also released a few models that had ashtrays in them.
The 2015 Porsche Cayenne has an ashtray in the front and back. You can add one to the Ferrari 458 Italia for only $578, too.
One of the easiest things you can do if you’d like an ashtray is to go and buy one. They’ve got a ton of aftermarket ashtrays that you can put in your cup holder.
You can find one that’s able to absorb most of the smell, too. So, you can smoke in the car without leaving as much of a scent behind. Just make sure you’re emptying the container frequently.
Otherwise, it will start smelling anyway.