How to Use a Garmin When the Cigarette Lighter Is Broken

By Brian Flax

Most GPS units provide two to four hours of battery life on a single charge.
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One of the most direct ways to charge your Garmin GPS when you're on the go is to use the cigarette lighter adapter that came with your unit. If the cigarette lighter in your car is broken or missing, however, you can still charge your Garmin over USB by connecting the cable to your computer or a USB outlet in your car, if one is available.

Charge Before You Travel

If you plan to use the GPS for a short period of time, charge the battery at home before you leave by connecting the unit to your computer using the included USB cable. Alternatively, you can charge your GPS by purchasing an AC power adapter that allows you to connect your GPS to a wall socket. In addition to charging the battery, you can update the firmware, maps and add-ons at the same time. Once the battery is charged, remove it from the computer, and then mount the GPS unit like you normally would in your car.

Charge on the Go

If you need to use the GPS for an extended period of time, you may find that charging before you travel doesn't give you enough battery life. If you car is equipped with a USB port on the console or CD player, you can connect the Garmin GPS to this outlet using the included USB cord. This charges your GPS unit and provides continuous power while it is plugged in. Some cars only provide power to the USB port while the engine is running, so turn the car on to make sure it works before you leave.

Use a Backup Battery Charger

If your car is not equipped with a USB port, you can charge your Garmin with a backup battery charger. These chargers connect to the USB port on your Garmin, and provide extra battery life once you use up the initial charge. Before you leave the house, charge your Garmin and backup battery supply by connecting both units to your computer using USB cables. Once on the road and your GPS battery starts dying, connect the unit to the backup battery supply. The amount of power you'll have depends on the size of the backup battery supply and how much power your GPS draws.

Fix the Cigarette Adapter

If you're still not able to get the amount of power you need for your Garmin GPS, look into fixing the cigarette lighter in your car. Start by locating the fuse for the cigarette lighter to see if it's blown; if it is, replace it with a new fuse. You can find replacement fuses at most auto parts stores. If you find that the fuse is still intact, bring the car to a mechanic or dealership to have the cigarette lighter replaced.