Installing the aftermarket Rostra cruise control kit in a Ford Transit van

Difficulty: 2/5, Cost: $300

Cruise control is one of those things that we take for granted, so much so that I didn’t even consider the possibility that it wouldn’t be included in my base model Transit van. No auto headlights, that’s annoying but tolerable. No cruise control, how is this even a thing? Luckily, a company named Rostra makes an aftermarket kit that makes adding cruise control a minor project.

Parts and Tools Required:

Rostra 250-9636 Cruise Control Kit ($299.95)
Soldering Iron, Heat Shrink, Lighter, Wire Stripper, T25 Torx bit, Flathead Screwdriver, Zip Ties, 3/8″ Drill Bit, Drill

Installation

You’ll need to remove the lower dash panel, which is only secured with clips — you’ll literally grab it and pull outward. The other trim piece that you’ll want to remove is the lower ignition column cover. This one was trickier, there are two T25 screws to remove, and then I wedged a screwdriver in between the upper and lower covers and pried it apart.

Completely disregard the installation instructions included with this kit. They make it seem more complicated than it is, even telling you to cut two wires on the OBDII harness, which is no longer necessary!

I recommend wrapping the harnesses in electrical tape. There are two pass-through type connectors to deal with. You’ll want to pop the OBDII connector from its place (push tabs), then connect to the Rostra harness, then put the Rostra OBDII connector in the original’s place.

Carefully route the accelerator pedal connector to the pedal, keeping in mind the movement of the steering column. I kept my harness tight to the plastic trim, using zip ties where appropriate. Disconnect the accelerator pedal connector, connect to the harness, then connect the Rostra connector in its place, much like you did with the OBDII connector.

Now, the only hard part. The red power wire — will need to tap into the brown/yellow ignition wire. Per Rostra, this must be a solder joint — any other will void warranty. Soldering is very easy to learn, affordable to get into, and a worthwhile skill to have! That said, there is no reason that a tap connector would not work here, it’s just a matter of longevity, and solder joints cannot be beat.

I stripped back some of the black wrap and cut the brown/yellow wire in half, then stripped both ends (plus the red Rostra wire), and soldered the joint together, then used heat shrink over it. Be very cautious routing this red wire (with 1 amp fuse) down the steering column. It’s a thin gauge wire, and there are moving parts and snap-together pieces to snag it. I did my best to route the fuse holder near the fuse panel for future access.

The next step is to drill a 3/8″ hole through the lower steering column cover. You’ll run the un-pinned harness from the cruise control handle through this hole, then push the connectors into the included Molex connectors. This is the one part that I referred to the installation instructions for (getting the correct pinout).

I simply tucked the controller into the dash, as it seemed secure enough. Another option would be to adhere it to the removable panel, but I felt confident enough with the placement that I chose. The kit includes zip ties, which I used on the harness where appropriate to avoid moving parts and potential snags.

Evaluation

I bought the Transit that I selected due to its steeply discounted price, and while the Cruise Control option from the factory is affordable, it was a feature that was not included in my base model. The Rostra kit adds functionality that I quickly found myself wishing for on my drive home. It’s not incredibly intelligent – for instance, it will not downshift to maintain a speed down a steep grade, however — it will hold your speed on flat or moderate grades (uphill). My only complaint is that at certain speeds, it seems overzealous in regards to downshifting. This is the only aftermarket kit that I am aware of, and I’m more than satisfied at the $300 price point. My official recommendation would be to select a van with factory cruise control, and if that’s not an option, this is a viable alternative.



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Posted May 12, 2019 by Chris in category "Automotive", "Ford Transit / Van Life