How to Fix a Zippo Lighter

By Will Charpentier
Photo and Illustration by the Author

A Zippo lighter has 17 parts that can break, come unhinged, work loose, or otherwise render the lighter inoperable. You can repair some problems with simple tools; others, however, mean that you must send the lighter to the Zippo Repair Center in Pennsylvania, where the lighter will be completely repaired and reconditioned at no charge. In sharp contrast to many other warranties, Zippo will fully recondition your lighter, even if you have repaired some parts of the lighter yourself.

Open the lighter. Remove the inside case from the bottom case. Inspect the wick in the chimney. If the wick is fully burned, use the needle-nose pliers to pull the wick up until an unburned section of wick is even with the top of the lighter's chimney.

Remove the rayon wadding from the inside case and inspect the wick; there should be at least 3/4" of unburned wick inside the case. If not, the wick should be replaced.

To replace the wick, use the needle-nose pliers to grasp the wick. Pull straight up. Install a new wick by pushing the wick up through the hole at the bottom of the chimney.

Inspect the chimney of the lighter. If the chimney is bent out of shape, use the needle-nose pliers to gently bend it back into shape. If necessary, insert the screwdriver blade into chimney that has been "pinched" together, and twist the screwdriver to allow you to use the needle-nose pliers to bend the chimney back into shape.

Inspect the rayon wadding that you removed from the inside case of the lighter. If it appears to be burned or melted in spots, the lighter should be sent to the Zippo Repair Clinic without making any further repair efforts. See Resources.

The Anatomy of a Zippo Lighter
Photo and Illustration by the Author

Open the top of the lighter. Listen for the "click" as you open and close the top. If the top does not stay closed, be sure that the cam and the cam rivet are present, and that the metal tab inside the lid wraps around the cam as the lid is closed. If the cam or cam rivet are missing, the lighter should be sent to Zippo, as the cam and cam rivet cannot be effectively replaced otherwise.

If the metal tab does not make contact with the cam, use the needle-nose pliers to bend it until it is parallel with the back of the lid. The cam should slip into the space between the lid and the tab as the lid is closed.

Inspect the hinge that holds the lid to the bottom case. If the hinge is bent, it can be straightened by using the needle-nose pliers to gently move the hinge straps into alignment. If the hinge pin is missing, a staple is an effective temporary substitute until the lighter can be sent to the Zippo Repair Clinic for proper repair.

Place the lid on the bottom case so that the hinge straps are aligned and interlock. Straighten a staple and insert the staple though the hinge straps to replace the hinge pin. Bend the ends of the staple upward. Cut the excess off with wire cutters, leaving only enough of the bend to prevent the staple from falling out of the hinge.

Remove the flint spring and screw from the tube and inspect the spring. If the screw is not attached to the spring, the screw can be re-attached to the spring by applying a "dot" of carpenter's glue to the screw. Twist the screw into the spring. Allow the glue to dry. While the glue is drying, be sure that the spring tip is present. Inspect and--if necessary--replace the flint and re-insert the spring.

Replace the rayon wadding by first straightening the wick along one side of the inside of the inside case. Push 1/3 of the rayon wadding into the inside case with the screwdriver. Move the wick to the other side of the inside of the inside case. Push the remaining wadding into the inside case. Set the flat felt pad in place around the spring tube. Insert the inner case into the bottom case.

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.