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The 96-97 Taurus cruise control has this annoying little feature – the cruise
light comes on as soon as you turn the cruise control system on, and stays that
way. There is no way to tell if the cruise control system is actually
controlling vehicle speed (aside form the fact that you let off the gas pedal
and the car doesn’t slow down). In 98, Ford fixed this problem and reprogrammed
the cruise control system so that the cruise light in the instrument cluster
only illuminates if the cruise control system is actually controlling vehicle
speed. Thankfully, modifying your 96-97 Taurus to operate like a 98-99 system is
as easy as swapping out actuators. There is no difference between SHO, Taurus,
and Sable actuators – in this example I swap a 98 Sable actuator into a 97 SHO.
1. LOCATE ACTUATOR
The actuator is located on the driver’s side strut tower, near the brake master cylinder. You can also find the actuator by locating your throttle body, and follow the two cables from it. One will go through the firewall (this is your gas pedal), and the other will go to the cruise control actuator.
2. UNBOLT ACTUATOR FROM CAR BODY
Disconnect the wiring harness from the actuator. Two 13mm nuts hold the actuator bracket to the strut tower. A ratcheting wrench comes in very handy.
3. DISCONNECT CRUISE CONTROL CABLE
a. DISCONNECT PLASTIC HOUSING
Use a small standard screwdriver and gently push in on the plastic tab, and then rotate housing counter-clockwise roughly 15°. Pull housing upward out of actuator body.
b. DISCONNECT CABLE
Using small standard screwdriver, push in on the spring that holds the cable head in place, and with the other hand push the cable up. Slide cable out the side of the disk.
c. Repeat procedure with new actuator. Connect
new actuator to old cable.
4. BOLT NEW ACTUATOR TO CAR BODY.
Pretty self-explanatory. Remember to connect wiring harness.
Although the actuators are swappable between SHO and SLO, the cables themselves are not. I know the SHO uses a longer cable, but I’m not sure if there are any differences between the Duratec and Vulcan engines.
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