My wife and I were taking a long trip to visit my sister and her husband who live thirteen hours away. In preparation for our trip, my wife bought an electrical outlet that plugs into a vehicle’s cigarette lighter. After a few miles of being out of town, we opened the new portable outlet and plugged it in to the cigarette lighter outlet so my wife could work on her laptop. Our new electrical plug appeared to be broken. We tried switching it on and off a few times, but nothing happened. On my 2004 Toyota Tundra, there are two additional 12V/100W receptors below and to the left of the glove box, so we tried each of those. Neither of the extra outlets worked either. That’s when it occurred to us that we’d likely spent $40 for a new charger that we didn’t need. It was pretty obvious that something was wrong with the 12V outlets on my truck. Our guess was that a fuse was blown.
My brother is an experienced Toyota technician, so I called him to have him walk me through my problem. He told me there was a fuse blown that affected the three 12V outlets on the truck. He then told me to open the fuse panel located on the driver side of the truck by the hood release handle. I opened the fuse panel and noticed that on the back of the panel was a chart of fuses. I found one labeled “PWR Outlet 15A”. That was the one that seemed like it was affecting my electricity setup.
My brother told me that there are spare fuses located under the hood of Toyotas. I popped the hood and checked there for what he described as a rectangular box with a lid that could be removed. Under the hood of the truck I found the box I was looking for on the driver’s side in the upper right hand corner. My brother told me how to find the fuse I needed, one labeled 15A. There was also a small, white plastic device (a sort of tweezer) in the middle of the box that was intended for manipulating the fuses. Using the tweezer, I pulled out the 15A replacement fuse.
The most difficult part of replacing the fuse was pulling out the old blown fuse. I wasn’t able to remove the blown fuse with the Toyota-supplied fuse tweezers. Instead I used a pair of tweezers provided by my wife from her makeup kit. Inserting the replacement fuse was no easy task either. It was a bit cumbersome trying to hold the fuse while trying to mash it into its place in the fuse box, but after a few tries, the new fuse snapped in.
After I changed the fuse, my wife plugged our charger into the outlet, and we flipped the switch to turn it on. Voila. We had power again. It’s definitely a benefit to have a brother who can troubleshoot problems over the phone. The lesson (one that cost me $40) I learned is this: If you’re ever in a situation where you have electrical issues on your car, the fuse box is a good place to start. In addition to the PWR OUTLET label on the fuse chart, I noticed there were other ones, like HTR 10A, TAIL 15A, WSH 25A, 4WD 20A, WIP 25A, etc. Replacing a fuse for any of those functions is the cheapest and quickest way to find the most probable cause of electrical problems.