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Summary
  • You can use your car’s USB port to charge your device or transfer data.
  • Some reasons why it’s not working include a blown fuse, cable problems, unconfigured device settings, outdated firmware, built-up debris, and port damage.
  • How to fix the problem depends on what’s causing it. Solutions range from configuring the device to cleaning or replacing the port.

A USB port or USB socket is a convenient input type that lets you connect various electronics to your vehicle, such as mobile devices, USB sticks, and portable GPS navigation units. It’s a massive quality-of-life upgrade, expanding the things you can do while on the road, from listening to music to charging your phone.

As such, a malfunctioning port may often result in unpleasant drives, especially for those who depend a lot on these nifty sockets. Luckily, finding and fixing the cause of the issue is usually easy.

Possible Reasons Why a Car USB Port Isn’t Working

A car USB port might not work because of a blown fuse, cable problems, incompatible device settings, outdated firmware, built-up debris in the port, or extensive damage.

Blown Fuse

Cars have fuses designed to protect the electrical wiring. If one blows, it could shut down the electricity and circuit that powers the USB port.

To resolve this issue, you’d need to replace the blown fuse. If you don’t have the right tools and know-how to check your fuse box and conduct the replacement, you can leave the task to the pros. Mechanics usually deal with the problem on the spot, so visiting them is a surefire way to resolve blown fuses.

Cable Problems

cable being plugged to car usb port
Check your cable and ensure it’s firmly connected to the device and the port.

The issue could also be with the cable you used to connect to the USB port. It might be worn out, kinked, or torn, rendering it unable to connect or transfer data.

Check your cable and ensure it’s firmly connected to the device and the port. Sometimes, fixing the issue is as easy as adjusting the cable. If that doesn’t work, examine it for kinks and damage. Replace it if necessary.

If you’re using multiple cables, make sure you’re using the right one for your device. Some cables only serve one function, be it charging or data transfer.

Unconfigured Settings

If it’s the first time you plugged in the device that won’t work, you might need to adjust its settings. Some devices need to be set up after connecting to your car’s USB port. Most send a prompt to indicate the need for configuration.

The configuration is usually just a matter of indicating whether you’re charging or transferring data. It’s also worth noting that some older devices might not be compatible with newer vehicle models.

Outdated Firmware

If you’re unfamiliar with firmware, it’s a specific type of software that’s closely tied to hardware. It’s essentially a set of codes programmed into hardware devices, such as smartphones. It controls the device’s components, like how a camera processes images and the like.

Due to this, outdated firmware can sever the connection between your device and the USB port. The worst-case scenario is the port won’t even recognize the device.

In some cases, connecting the system to the internet and installing updates will fix this issue.

Dirt and Debris Buildup

Dust and debris can clog the port, hindering the connection between your device and the USB port. Fortunately, this issue is easy to fix.

You can clean the port using small objects like a toothpick or a Q-tip, but be careful. Using too much force can damage the port. Using compressed air to blow out the dust and dirt also works.

Damaged Port

The USB port can accumulate natural wear and tear from all the times you’ve used it. One way to confirm this is to try different cables and devices to see if any of them work. If none connects, then you might have a damaged USB port.

The only solution for this problem is to take your car to an auto shop for USB port replacement. The price range differs depending on the shop, but generally, it could set you back between $20 and $300, depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle.

How to Replace a Faulty Car USB

If you’re confident with your auto repair know-how, you can replace the faulty USB port on your own.  You’ll need a new USB port, a screwdriver, and electrical tape. The process usually involves the steps below:

  • Step 1: Disconnect the battery by unbolting the cables to prevent electrical shocks. Remove the negative terminal first (black wire), then do the same thing with the positive terminal.
  • Step 2: Unscrew the damaged USB port using a screwdriver. Some models use pins, which you’ll have to push and lift before taking the port out.
  • Step 3: Disconnect the port’s wires and set them aside. Make sure you remember where each wire goes to make it easier to connect the new USB port.
  • Step 4: Install the replacement port by connecting the wires you previously disconnected. Use electrical tape or wire connectors for safety purposes.
  • Step 5: Reconnect the battery and turn your car on. Check if everything’s working as intended.

Final Thoughts

The USB port has become an integral part of modern vehicles. If you depend on it a lot, don’t put off fixing or replacing it when it develops issues.

Some possible reasons why the port isn’t working include a blown fuse, cable problems, unconfigured device settings, outdated firmware, built-up debris, and port damage.

You can take your vehicle to an auto repair shop if you’re unable to find what’s causing the issue.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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