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Cruise Control Drops Out, 2003 Honda Accord

Hello All,

I appreciate any help/experience you can offer on this:

2003 Honda Accord EX, AT, 140,000 miles, 2.4L 4-cyl

When I turn on the cruise control system, the “Cruise Main” light illuminates and stays on until I turn off the cruise control system. When I go to set the speed, the “Cruise Control” light comes on and the vehicle maintains speed for a little while, then soon the cruise control cuts out. When this happens the “Cruise Control” light turns off and the “Cruise Main” light stays on. The amount of time that the cruise control system actually manages to control the vehicle’s speed seems to be very irregular, but seldom more than a few minutes before it turns off. It’s doesn’t seem to make a difference if the car is driving on uphill, downhill, bumpy, or smooth roads. Usually if I try to set the speed again right away, after it has cut out, the vehicle either does not respond to my pressing the “Set” button (the “Cruise Control” light doesn’t come back on, and the speed is not maintained), or the cruise will maintain speed for only a second or two before cutting out again (with the “Cruise Control” light being on only for as long and the speed is maintained). After it cuts out, if I turn off the “Cruise Main” and then turn it back on, the system responds as if it’s been somehow reset. That is to say that it may stay on a little longer than it would if I had just tried to set the speed again without turning off the “Cruise Main” first; but it will still inevitably turn off unexpectedly again.

I have read just about all that I could find on this subject online and have already eliminated the brake light switch and taillights as potential problems. I did have a center brake light that had been out for a long time, I replaced the bulb and there was no change. I replaced the brake light switch with a new one, also no change. I adjusted the cruise control actuator cable that connects to the throttle body because I thought maybe there was too much slack and the servo was maxing out, but there was also no change after this adjustment. As best as I can tell, all the mechanical systems related to the CC are functioning as they should. I don’t have any issues with the tach reading jumping up and down, or the speedo reading behaving erratically. The cruise control dropping out doesn’t seem to coincide with the automatic transmission shifting up or down either. All of these things lead me to believe that there must be something wrong with the CC servo/actuator itself of whichever part to the system sends a signal to it. I’ve checked the associated fuses, and they all appear to be good. I took the car to get the codes read and only one code came up: “61-1 Battery Voltage Malfunction ABS”. I don’t know what to do about that or if it would have any effect on the CC.

I saw an old thread for a 2003 CR-V on here that read as if it had the exact same issue I’m having, but I don’t think a solution was ever found/posted.

Please help! I do A LOT of cross-country driving and this CC failure is getting really frustrating… Thanks in advance

If the cruise controls are on a stalk off the steering column, I suspect that the controls are worn and bumps are interrupting the signal.

It may also help if you told us the mileage and transmission type of the car.

Thanks for the guidance, I have edited the initial post to include the suggested information. On this vehicle the CC controls are a set of push-buttons on the right side of the steering wheel (next to the horn/airbag). I believe this is how almost all late-model cars are now, as the same setup is on my 2010 Outback.

No, not really. GM still uses the stalk mounted controls as do others.

I would still look down the path of jinkey switches as well as the slip rings that transfer the signal from the wheel to the car’s harness. There is still an outside chance the brake switch is dropping out the CC as well if there is a lot of freeplay in the pedal assembly or a chaffed wire.

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Toyota also uses stalk mounted controls.

I agree with your suggestions, and compliment you on thinking of the brake switch. My mind didn’t go there.

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RockAuto…$30:

Cruise

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Thanks for the suggestions, I’m hoping someone has experienced this particular problem with a Honda of similar age (similar system) and has found the solution. The CC system has so many inputs that it seems a real pain to figure out just which one is causing the problem. I could probably buy all the associated components new/used for $200 total and just replace them all, but I’m hoping someone knows what the issue is based on these symptoms for this car without just blindly replacing parts to see if that does it, (as I’ve already done with the brake lights and brake light switch, to no avail). I’ll look into the speed sensor suggestion (whether its from the wheel or tranny, I don’t know yet). I feel I’ve eliminated the brake pedal/switch as any source of problems because I have replaced and adjusted the switch position and there appears to be no change. I’m temped to just swap out the button panel, I can also get a used servo/actuator for about $30… Please keep the suggestions coming! Thanks!

When I had a similar problem, it was the brake switch, ie, the switch that senses if the brake pedal is depressed. That signal is used to light the brake lights and to turn off the cruise control.

But in my case, the CC didn’t work at all…

Know that just because someone else has a similar car that had similar issues doesn’t automatically mean their fix will be your fix. It can help you get in a better direction, but unless you test parts before replacing them, you will indeed still be blindly replacing parts to see if that fixes your issue.

When you replaced the brake switch, was there any kind of adjustment to it? Did you check the wiring around it?
When running at speed with cruise control on, have you tested pulling up on the bottom of the brake pedal with your foot to see if you can keep the CC from disengaging? (be careful when doing this!)
when you push on the switches on your steering wheel, do they feel stiffer or looser than before? Even a little bit? Could coffee or soda have been spilled in there?
Think it may be worth pulling the switches out of the steering wheel and washing with warm water, and drying completely before reinstalling? I’d try it.
you can also check the connections there while you have it apart.

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Maybe the switch on the brake pedal is a little wonky. Set the cruise and hook a toe underneath the brake pedal while holding the pedal up and steady.
If it doesn’t disengage then you may have found the problem.

I’m thinking that’s likely the problem. The CC system probably insists on the engine and transmission and brakes and alternator/battery all be working flawlessly. You want your ABS system to work flawlessly in any event, so suggest as your first step to fix that problem. With any luck the cruise control problem will be fixed too.

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Thanks to all who replied! Unfortunately, I am now unemployed and had to sell the car without fixing the CC issue. Too bad… it was a very reliable car all these years.