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The cigarette lighter outlet was never designed to be an electrical outlet the way it's commonly used today. Even so, I've yet to find a plug for charging USB devices that fits and doesn't fall out.

All plugs I know have some little metal nub in the center that practically never gets enough contact with the socket's center base, and the sides of the plug are never effective at keeping the plug pressed in well enough.

How can I make the plug stay in place? How can I easily modify the socket to make it work?

My car's socket is vertical (pointing straight up). I don't want to dismantle my car, although it would be cool to have a USB socket in the console! This must be a common problem; how do people solve it?

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Can't say I've ever had this problem. I've got a multiple outlet adapter that I leave plugged in all the time and it never comes loose from the car. The items in the adapter itself never come loose either. Maybe you've got a bad factory socket in combination with cheap adapters? –  Brian Knoblauch Nov 5 '12 at 12:31
    
I bought a car charger which had a small plastic neck that fitted into the socket and helped to hold it in place, I keep looking to buy more of these, but cannot find them online...but they do exist because I had one !! –  michbeat Mar 8 at 14:47
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I would look at the item you are plugging into the outlet rather then the outlet. Most of the time the cheap USB chargers aren't built correctly. Some times you can just put a flat screwdriver under the wings on the side and pry them up so they stick out more. Another option would be to use an adapter like this.

With some tom foolery you could just wire in the gusts of your USB changer and then mount the port somewhere tricky.

Good luck.

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Yes I agree that the problem is probably the poor quality of the charger. The problem is that I've never found anything that doesn't look like it came from the same Chinese factory in the end. Good idea with prying the wings out a bit! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 4 '12 at 18:54
    
Solved: I took the plug apart and found that it was, indeed, a cheap piece of .... I removed the hard metal center nub and replaced it with a short soft spring. Now it works well enough. Seeing how simple electronics it contains made me think about avoiding the plug&socket by embedding it directly in the console, but that's a project for another day. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 5 '12 at 18:47
    
Duct tape solves all problems. If duct tape can't solve it, use WD40... the solution to the other 50% of problems –  Nick Mar 10 at 15:34
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I had the same problem with one of those cheap mp3-FM transmitters. The thing is that some lighter sockets aren't deep enough to accept the adapter, so the wings never go deep enough to click into the recesses of the socket. The best thing to do would be to find an adapter that plugs into the socket and then plug your USB adapter into that. Some hardware stores sell an adapter that turns one socket into two. Or you could try some DIY-fu and bend the wings forward and back to move the bulge closer to the front. Just be VERY careful not to snap them off. That metal is quite brittle. See the blue line I "Photoshopped" in ;)

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I must admit, I've gone for a very low-tec solution to this in the past: Blu-Tack. Simple, not the most elegant, but effective :)

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