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posted: 1/13/2013 5:43 AM

Cold weather freezes up cruise control

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Q. I have been using the cruise control on my 2006 Grand Marquis on a regular basis. It works just fine except when temperatures get below about 40 degrees. Then I need to wait until the car warms up before it can be made to activate.

Since this can take as long as 20 minutes, I cannot use it for my frequent short distance trips. I tried a few ways to active the function but had little success.

Is there any way I can trick the cruise control to think it is at operating temperature?

A. It seems as though you may have a problem with the switch itself or the wiring going to the controls. There is also a clock spring just under the steering wheel that could potentially be the problem, but it seems more likely it is the switch itself.

With a little diagnosing a good technician should be able to figure out what part is failing. You will definitely want to leave it at the repair shop overnight so they can test the car while it's cold.

If you want to try to trick the car for purposes of diagnosing where the problem is, you could take a hair dryer and warm the switch up while leaving the rest of the car cold, then drive the car and see if it works. If it does you have your answer.

Other than that there is no other way to trick the car. Good luck and make sure if you try the hair dryer thing, you are not standing in snow or water while handling it.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit Send questions to

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