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1998 Honda crv cruise control problem

My CRV has 176k on it (auto trans), but just recently the cruise is wonky. You can set it, but as soon as it hits a hill and has to downshift, it gets weird. It downshifts, and the rpms go up, but you don’t gain any speed. If you disengage the cruise and drive without it, you can hit passing gear and get back up to speed just fine and drive normal. Any thoughts?

Is that the regular type of automatic, or a belt-driven CVT automatic? What if you press on the gas pedal when this happens, does it drop into passing gear and act normal then? What effect does pressing on the brake pedal have when this happens?

What speed is your cruise control set at? What speed are you actually going when this happens?

I tried at various speeds and it does it at all speeds.

I don’t know if it is a cvt automatic. I never did try pressing the gas pedal when it happened. Pressing on the brake cancels the cruise.

A CVT on a '98 CR-V?
I don’t think so!

In any event, the stated symptom, “It downshifts, and the rpms go up, but you don’t gain any speed” is a classic description of transmission slippage. I would suggest that the OP take this vehicle to an independent trans shop for evaluation. Do NOT go to a chain-run shop like Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or–God forbid–AAMCO unless you want to be overcharged for substandard repairs.

Does it make sense that it only does that when the cruise control is used, and not when driving without cruise?

OEM cruise control or aftermarket?

It’s the OEM cruise.

And no problems with it on straight flat/relatively flat roads? If it’s fine on the straightaways, then I think I’d second @VDCdriver’s advice above and have your transmission checked at an independent shop. I’ve never owned a Honda, but on all of the vehicles I’ve owned (including a 94 Saturn!) I’ve never had a problem with OEM cruise control

It’s not even fine on straightaways. Loses speed immediately, downshifts and rpms go up, but no pickup in speed. If you disengage the cruise and drive normal, it shifts fine and hits passing gear just fine.

Have you had a mechanic inspect the cruise control system yet?

Not yet. Was hoping to hear some ideas from you guys first.

Since it is the normal automatic transmission design apparently, concur with above posters, transmission slippage must be considered a suspect. Checking the transmission fluid level and for any signs it is burnt is worthwhile. OP is correct that a plausible explanation for why it only happens in cruise control mode, that’s a tough one. It may be that the cruise control mode is able to activate driveline functionality that the driver doesn’t have access to.

What would that be ?

Fluid level is great, looks nice and red, not burnt.

That’s a tough problem you got there OP. At least you got a good back up, just turn the cruise control off. That might be your best bet, do that for a while and see if the slipping symptom starts happening w/the CC off. If it only happens with the CC on, must be a problem with the CC or it’s connection to the engine and transmission activators, whatever they are.

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That was my thinking. I’ve been driving it several days without cruise and absolutely no hint of a problem with the tranny.

Yeah at this point if continues to drive fine on the same roads where the cruise was struggling, then the cruise control would be the logical fault. I think this is something the mechanic would need to take a look at. I’m thankful that in my list of DIY stuff I’ve worked on, I’ve never had a reason to touch any part of the cruise control system.

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Have you checked for vacuum leaks or connection failures? These old Honda’s have old fashioned systems. My 1994 Accord at around 250,000 miles would not engage below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.