Troubleshooting Your Car’s Cruise Control

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The cruise control mechanism found in today’s cars is designed to aid the driver in maintaining a stable cruising speed. It can be exhausting to drive, especially on long roads. This is why it is so important to maintain the integrity of your cruise control mechanism. The cruise control is controlled by an actuator mechanism and control module. As you activate your car’s cruise control, the speed sensor will send a signal to a control module and to the vacuum powered actuator that controls the accelerator. You can then relax and take your foot of the accelerator while the cruise control system activates. Deactivating your car’s cruise control is done by simply applying slight pressure to the brakes. Below are the materials and instructions you will need to troubleshoot problems with your car’s cruise control.

Step 1 – Check the Speed Sensor

cruise control wiring harness

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Check the speed sensor wiring and look for signs of damage. Use a floor jack to lift your car’s front and locate the speed sensor. The speed sensor for cruise control is located at the rear of your engine and below the transmission. The speed sensor can be described as a small protruding plug with wires attached. You should visually inspect the wires for damage. A faulty or damaged wire on your speed sensor means that the speed sensor cannot relay your vehicle’s speed.

Step 2 – Check the Fuse

two fuses showing a burnout

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A power surge can easily blow out the fuse of your cruise control mechanism. The fuse panel that controls the cruise control is located under the steering wheel usually houses the cruise control fuse. You can remove the cover from the fuse panel to locate the fuse for your cruise control. Refer to the fuse diagram located on the fuse panel. Pull the fuse panel off with a fuse remover. You can examine the fuse for the cruise control or use a fuse tester. Install a new fuse with the same amperage if it is.

Step 3 – Check the Vacuum Lines

A cruise control mechanism has a vacuum-powered actuator connected to the control module by vacuum lines. Open the hood and start the engine to check for leaks in the vacuum lines of your cruise controller. You should listen for signs that there are vacuum leaks. If you hear a squealing sound, then the vacuum lines between the actuator’s control module and the actuator are damaged or worn. Visually inspect the vacuum line connections to find leaks if you don’t hear any sucking sound. An auto mechanic should replace your leaking vacuum lines.

Step 4 – Check the Throttle Linkage

The throttle and the actuator mechanism of your car’s cruise control system are connected together with metal chains called the throttle linkage. The control module’s control mechanism can be disabled if the throttle linkage breaks off while driving on uneven terrain. The throttle mechanism and actuator are located on the top of your engine at the throttle valve assembly. Verify that the metal chains linking the throttle and actuator are still intact. This cruise control problem can be easily solved by replacing the throttle linkage.

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