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I have noticed lots of questions and posts concerning cruise control in this forum. While I did find several posts that discussed adding factory cruise, there I didn't find a detailed how-to on installing cruise control. This write up will attempt to fill that gap. I will try to include any information necessary for a novice to install aftermarket cruise control. I apologize in advance if I insult your intelligence with too much detailed information about things you are capable of figuring out yourself. I'm just trying to cover every step so others won't have to spend as many hours in research as I did. A note to anyone trying for follow my directions. If there is something you need more information about, there are three sources in which I found everything I needed. I bought a CD of the Ford factory repair manuals for all 1998 cars on ebay for $5 plus shipping. These were invaluable for wiring diagrams and virtualy any other information on any project. I read a how-to written for installing the audiovox ccs-100 on a mazda Miata. This gave me the general gist of instalation. The other source is this site. Browse around and (as I see written everywhere else) USE THE SEARCH FUNCTION!!!! I am pretty new to this site (this is my first car, and this was one of my first major projects), and I was easily able to find all the information pertainign to cruise control on this site by using the search function. It seems to me that people who don't use the search function just clutter up search results by asking the same questions over and over. This can actually make it more difficult to find the information. Anyway, onto the information you really wanted to see.
After reading everything about cruise control I could find, I decided not to use factory cruise stripped from a junkyard car, mainly because I didn't want to tear apart the steering column and steering wheel. I opted for the simpler aftermarket kit. FYI: My escort is the sedan, LX, 1998. It has the SOHC 2.0 liter engine. There may be differences in wire colors and compoment locations on zx2 and wagon models, and on vehicles from other model years. I will try to include any information necessary for a novice to install aftermarket cruise on a 3rd generation escort.
After extensive research online, I determined that the best value for the money in after market cruise control kits is the Audiovox CCS-100. It is small, compact, easy to install, offers all the necessary functions (set, resume, coast, accel, back lighting, etc.), and costs under $100. It also is dash mounted. I don't like the idea of cruise control "piggy-backing" on the turn signal lever like most other kits do. It seems like it would be annoying. I got my kit on brandsplace.com for $85 plus shipping and handeling. Brandsplace honors the 1 year Audiovox warrenty. You may be able to find the kit cheaper on clearance at an auto parts store, but this was not the case in my area.
Here is a list of tools and items I used at various times during the instalation.

Chiltons or Haynes and Ford factory repair manual on CD
socket set
crecent wrench set
digital multimeter
wire pick (device with a allegator clip you attach to a ground, and then probe wires with the needle end. if the wire is hot, the handle lights up)
wire cutter/stripper/crimper tool
coat hanger or wire puller
screw driver with philips, flat head, and torx bits
jewlers screwdrivers
awl or other very sharp pointed object
knife or small saw (for cutting the wire conduit to legnth)
crimp on wire splicings (the little plastic coated metal tubes-- insert wire(s) and crush)
scrap wire (for adding slack where necessary for splicing wires)
drill and 1/4" bit
pliers (regular and needlenose)
electrical tape
plummers putty
buy at hardware store: one small cotter pin, and one 1/4" dia 3/4" length nut/bolt/lock washer combination (to add stability to the servo mount)

The audiovox kit includes everything else you need, plus lost of extra things for the parts bin. READ THE DIRECTIONS that come with the kit. They are excellent and will answer many basic questions. I began by programing the vaccuum servo/computer unit. There are 7 dip swiches under the screw-on cover. The directions will tell you which swiches to throw for the following settings. I used a jewlers screwdriver to throw the switches. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gen escorts all have a VSS signal of 8000 PPM. Set the unit for 8000 PPM, using switches one and two. Set switch 3 for VSS and TACH. (if you have a manual transmission like I do, you could use tach only. I chose to use VSS too in order to ensure that the tap up/down 2mph function would be accurate. The VSS is also an easily accessible wire. It will probably take you 2 minutes to tap into it. It is worth using in my opinion.) I put sensitivity swiches 4 and 5 on medium, because my escort is mostly stock, and it worked fine. If your escort is modified for extra power, you may have to change this setting to low, but I would recommend trying medium at first. The audiovox directions give more information about this setting. If you will be using the dash mounted control unit, as I did, set switch 6 to open. Set switch 7 to ECM as the source for the tach. If you have a manual transmission DON'T FORGET TO REMOVE THE BLACK JUMPER for over-rev protection.
I mounted the vaccuum servo in front of the passenger side shock tower, where the factory cruise control servo would be located. I mounted it with on the "L" bracket provided, bending the bracket 90 degrees. I used a screw that was holding an empty wiring harness. These photographs should clarify:

I'm not going to try to describe how I attached the cable to the throttle. The picture should suffice. I made sure there was a little slack in the cable to prevent the vaccuum servo from pulling the throttle past its stop and damaging the mechanism. Also make sure there is no way for the linkage to snag on anything and jam the throttle open.

I plugged the vaccuum hose into one of the heater hoses. I don't know how to describe it, but this picture should show it clearly. If you have a better vaccuum source, use it. Just remember: DON'T TAP INTO THE POWER BRAKE VACCUUM LINE!!!!

After I grounded the black wire coming out of the vaccuum motor assembly to the frame, I pulled ALL the rest of the wires through the firewall. The directions say to leave the gray and blue wires out and run them to the tach and VSS locations, but the easiest place to tap into the tach and VSS wires is in the cabin, at the instrument cluster and EEC-V computer respectively. First, I used the hanger to pull all the wires through the conduit supplied with the kit. All the factory wiring that goes into the cabin passes through a huge rubber fitting on the passenger side of the firewall. It is easy to find from the inside. I routed all the wires to this huge rubber fitting. I used the awl to poke a small hole, and then poked the straightened hanger through (it is much easier to use the awl and hanger from the inside). Then I taped all the wires to the hanger and greased them with vaseline. this allowed them to slip through the tiny hole very easily. the rubber streached and sealed very tightly over the wires. Just to make sure it was waterproof, I used plummers putty to seal it on the outside. Here are two pictures:

Use this route, or your other favorite to get all the wires into the cabin.
Remove the emergency brake console, the shift console, and the passenger side kick plate according to the directions in the chiltons/haynes manual. You will see a huge bundle of wire under the ashtray. these wires are the harness for the EEC-V computer in 3rd gen escorts. The computer is the gray metal box under the ash try. Follow the wires toward the firewall. They will enter a white casement/conduit on the passenger side if the center console. Use a small flathead screwdriver to open this casement and expose the wires. Find the white wire with a black stripe. This is the VSS wire. It will be the only wire colored white with a black stripe. Splice the gray wire from the cruise control unit to this white and black wire. You can disregard the black wire that is cased with the gray one. Use the crimp on connectors, or solder and heat shrink, or something. DO NOT USE THE SCOTCH LOCK CONNECTORS that are supplied with the kit. They are NOT RELIABLE for the long term. I had to splice a short jumper wire into the white and black VSS wire because it didn't have enough slack to be easily spliced. Pull the rest of the wires behind the ashtray to the drivers side of the cabin.
Remove the instrument cluster. There should be directions in the chiltons or haynes manual. If there are not, there is an excellent how-to on this site that tells how to install a new cluster with a factory tach in a 3rd gen. escort. It includes excellent instructions on removing the cluster. You will find three wire harnesses that enter the instrument cluster. I removed all three for more working room and set the instrument cluster aside. The far right harness contains the tach wire. EVEN IF YOUR ESCORT DOES NOT HAVE A FACTORY TACH, THE WIRE IS STILL THERE. Ford wired all 3rd gens up for a tach, even if they didn't install it. I know this is true because I swapped in a factory tach cluster last spring, and the whole thing was "plug and play." The tach wire is light green with a red stripe. Splice the blue wire to this light green and red wire.
The next two wires are the hardest to get at. They are really buried. You will require a good back and some flexibility to get at them with out removing more than the lower dash panal. Look up under the dash at the top of the brake pedal. You will see a switch with a plastic connector and two light green wires. This swich closes when the brake pedal is pressed, turning on the brake lights. Use the pick to check which of these two wires is 12 volts constant. This wire is powered even when there is no key in the ignition. If my memory serves me, it was the upper wire, the light green one with the white stripe. Unclip the wire harness and attach the Red cruise wire to the brake wire with constant power. Attach the purple wire to the other brake switch wire, the one that only is hot when the brake pedal is pressed. This is where I ran into a snag. For some reason, after I made these connections, there was no power to the brake switch at all. I guess I must have tugged one of the wires a bit and detached it from up in the dash, or maybe it was just a faulty wire. If anyone knows another probable cause, feel free to chime in. Anyway, if the same thing happens to you, there is an easy fix. There is a wire harness under the dash on the drivers side on the left. I think it is for the factory anti-theft system (an option my car does not have), but I am not sure. There is a green wire in this harness that is hot at all times. I tapped this source to repower the brake lights. Insert all the other wires into the harness as the directions insturct.
I attached the orange fused link to a blank slot in the cabin fuse box. The upper right fuse slot was empty on my escort; maybe it is designed to power some accessory. None of my manuals mentioned anything. Anyway, this upper right fuse slot only has power when the ignition is in the ON position, so it is perfect for the main cruise power connection. Connect the orange fused wire to this spot. I just plugged in a crimp-on terminal that I had cut to fit in the fuse slot.
Mount the dashboard control where ever you want, following the directions in the kit. I don't have power mirrors, so I mounted the cruise controler on the empty dash slot to the left of the steering wheel. I did have to remove the power mirror wiring harness from the back of the dash plug, but that wasn't hard because it was connected to nothing. This is further proof that 3rd gen escorts have the wiring installed for almost all the accessories, even if the actual accessory isn't installed, making upgrades easy.
Wiring the control unit was very easy. I attached the wires to the plug, and plugged it into the female plug coming from the unit installed in the engine compartment. The anti-theft wiring harness has two grounded wires in it. I used the continuity feature of the multimeter to verify that these were grounded. If memory serves me, the wire I tapped the controler's ground into was the black one.
The last connection to be made is for the back lighting of the controler. Connect the gray wire to a source that is only powered when the running lights are on. I tapped into a Red wire with a black stripe that was coming out of the cabin fuse box. This worked fine, but I discovered that it isn't connected to the dimmer and will not dim with the other dash lights. This doesn't affect me much, because the back lighting is rather dim anyway, and I like the dash lights reasonably bright, so I left it. If you want dimable backlighting for teh controler, I guess I can't help there. It shouldn't be too hard figure out. Just use the pick and find a wire that is hot when the running lights are on that dims the light in the pick when the dimmer swich is manipulated.
I have not had the need for a vaccuum boost canister yet, even with the small engine size. I may install one at a future date if I need it. It would be easy to fashion a vaccuum boost cannister from 3" PVC pipe and creative use of plumming fittings for only a few dollars. Audiovox also sells a vaccuum boost cannister. There is space for such a cannister behind the passenger side shock tower next to the windshield wash fluid tank. This location is also near the logical route for the vaccuum hose if you tap into the heating system as I did.
That's all there is to it. Take it out for a spin and test out all the features of your cruise control. If you have problems, I have read that Audiovox's help line is very good. If you need clarification, feel free to post your questions and I will check from time to time to answer them. If you have any improvements to my methods, post them. Thanks to all the contributers to this site for your help with this project, and I hope this write-up saves someone some time.

17 Posts
I just use this to put cruise into my car. My only comment is that the rubber fitting tore, I had to re-enforce it with sealing foam. Other than that no other problems: it works like a charm!


1,021 Posts
Nice post, just installed this setup on my car :D I did a couple of things differently: tapped into the black/white VSS wire at the trans connector because I hate digging around by the ECU, and I tapped into my MSD tach adapter for the tach signal.

I did have an issue with the ball chain part getting stuck on the throttle bracket (stuck at WOT=bad) so I zip tied a section of heater hose over the bracket to keep it from getting stuck :) Also, for the boosted guys (like me) make sure you put a check valve in line with the vac line to keep boost from hitting the cruise unit.

1 Posts
I realize this is somewhat of an old thread, but I've installed the very same cruise control into a 1997 Escort LX and it's inoperative.

The throttle cable is installed properly, the servo is programmed correctly and getting good vacuum, and all my connections look fine. The only difference between the installation outlined in this thread and mine is where I tap into the light green/red Tach wire -- I'm tapping in where the wire exits pin 48 of the ECU harness. Is this an appropriate place to tap in, or must I go from behind the instrument cluster?

Any other ideas are also welcome. Thanks in advance.

2 Posts
This was a great guide, however, I just wanted to make a comment or two about things I did differently.

The first is, like the poster above, I tapped into the white/red tack wire coming out of the ecu instead of behind the instrument cluster.

The second is that I attached the cruise control throttle cable to the main throttle cable using one of the wire loops instead of attaching the cable tot he side bracket. This is the method described in the manual as the "pulley style."

None the less, I am very appreciative that this guide existed, my installation would have been far more painful without it, I am sure.
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