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96TL & 01MDX
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Discussion Starter #1
The last few week-ends I've taken on the challenge of trying to figure out why my cruise control wasn't working. Thought I'd write it up here, too often on this forum I see questions but no follow-up describing how the issue ended up being resolved.

Symptoms: at first, cruise wouldn't stay on every once in a while, but as time went on it stopped working altogether.

Approach: 1) check signals into controller; 2) check actuator; 3) replace controller.

1) Tracked down location of controller, on drivers side behind dashboard lower cover and knee bolster, on top side of mounting plate. A bit unergonomic, but not impossible to get at. Got the 14P connector off and tested each signal to confirm that they all came in properly. For example, pin 5 shows voltage when the Set button is pressed. Attached pdf shows which signals are assigned to each pin. All checked out, except for the VSS (vehicle speed signal), which I didn't understand how to check at the time.

2) Moved on to the cruise control actuator, which uses a bladder driven by the intake manifold vacuum actuated by a set of three solenoid valves to adjust the throttle cable. Checked resistance across solenoid terminals first, everything okay there (see target resistances in attached file). Actuator looked old with plastic of solenoid housing and throttle cable flange cracking in a number of places, so went to the local auto yard and picked up a used actuator off of a wreck for $10. Knew that the 98TL actuator was the same model, so took the best condition actuator that I could find. Got a good one, cleaned it up, and put it in. Confirmed operation of actuator by jumpering solenoid terminals with vacuum applied, no problems found. But the cruise still wouldn't work.

3) I was running out of ideas, all that was left was to replace the controller unit itself, which would involve another visit to the junkyard. Since I had gone there last, they had gotten rid of the three 96TL heaps they had. I knew that the controller in the 97TL and 98TL models was a different part, 36700-SZ5-A02 vs the 36700-SZ5-A01 of the 96TL. I extracted one out of a 98TL that sure looked the same, and thought I'd try it out. Plunked $20 on the table and went home to give it a go. As it turned out, the different version units were functionally identical, the cruise control started working fine, and I could finally strike this one off the list.

All in all, four sessions of 2..3h each, $30 for used parts, and a whole bunch of head-scratching. Mind you, now that I figured it out it shouldn't take nearly as long next time...


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