Creature comforts seem to get overlooked in this day and age. After all, new cars are equipped with almost everything you can think of from the factory. Heated seats, air conditioning, and automatic lights are more common than not. But unfortunately, when you step off into an older vehicle, you realize how much some of this technology you might miss.
Let’s take our 1991 Suburban, for example. The vehicle was “loaded” back in the day with four-wheel drive, front and rear air conditioning, power windows, and locks. And while this vehicle was also equipped with vacuum-actuated cruise control, it didn’t work very well from the factory. Matters got even worse with 35-inch tires and the lift kit.
After an LS swap, we ran into a problem with the cruise control. We couldn’t figure out a good or easy way to make the archaic system work with our new engine. However, Dakota Digital offers a cruise control unit that’s perfect for someone who wants adjustability and a more modern design. And while these added features will undoubtedly be a welcomed addition, we want to take our foot off the gas pedal while cruising the open road and not worry about Buford T. Justice busting us for going 20 mph over the legal speed limit.
Dakota Digital offers three different cruise control options depending on the vehicle. A drive-by-wire (DBW) unit for GM LS engines, a DBW throttle body, and a cruise control system for cable-driven and electronic speedometers. For our application, we needed part number CRS-3000, the Dakota Digital cruise for electronic speedometers.
The CRS-3000 arrived at our doorstep, and we quickly opened it and saw what was involved. At first glance, we have to say the cruise control may look like it needs to be installed by a wiring professional. However, it wasn’t nearly as bad as we first thought after we got into the installation. The installation instructions, as was programming the unit, were clear and easy to follow. But before we can discuss setting the unit up, let’s look at the installation process.
Installing Dakota Digital’s Cruise Control
The first step with the cruise control was finding a place to mount the control box. This step proved to be somewhat of a challenge for the Suburban. While we wanted the box on the driver’s side of the engine compartment, there wasn’t enough room to pull it off. So we settled for the passenger’s side instead.
The first step was modifying the supplied bracket to mount the module. The instructions state that it’s essential to keep the unit flat and not at an angle. However, doing so could cause the cruise control not to function correctly. So, with a bend or two on the bracket and a cut to eliminate the excess we didn’t need, we used the supplied hardware to mount the bracket to the firewall.
The next step was connecting the cable to the throttle body. Again, Dakota Digital supplied everything we needed to hook the cable to the throttle body. The only issue was connecting the cable to keep it from moving under operation. However, we accomplished this quickly since the factory truck manifold had threaded bosses on top. With everything secure, we moved our attention to the wiring.
The wiring on the Dakota Digital cruise control is straightforward. And since our Suburban was already equipped with a cruise, we were able to utilize the factory controls. It only took four wires to tie into the steering column to operate the new unit. From there, we just needed to connect a few more wires and, in our case, a relay. The relay was necessary since we had previously installed Dakota Digital LED taillights.
With the unit installed and wired up, it was time to program the cruise control. For this step, we had to remove the box from the firewall and pull the black plug from the housing. The plug gave us access to several dip switches that need to be positioned for our LS powerplant. Again, the instructions will tell you what the switch does and all the available configurations. After setting the unit for our LS setup, it was time to hit the road.
We took the Suburban up to 55 MPH and flipped the cruise switch to the “On” position. The green cruise icon lit up on the Dakota Digital RTX series gauges, letting us know the cruise was ready. We then hit the “SET” button, and the LS held firm at 55 MPH. The speedo would pick up 1 MPH every time we hit “ACCEL” and decrease 1 MPH when “COAST” was bumped. With everything functioning correctly, it was time for the actual test, a steep grade.
On flat land and mild grades, the cruise control was fantastic as it stayed right at 75 MPH within a few miles per hour. However, when we hit our first big hill, it took a little longer for the cruise control to react than we had hoped. However, this was an easy fix since the cruise control allows you to program the gain sensitivity.
When we got into town, we pulled over and changed the setting from “Extra Low” to “Low” before hitting the road again. As we hit the hill, the cruise responded more quickly, and the Suburban had no issues getting up the slope. However, if this had not fixed the problem, we would have two more settings to use, “Mid” and “High.” With the cruise functioning perfectly, we headed back to the house with our foot again off the pedal. Our Suburban is once again ready for long road trips thanks to the ingenuity of Dakota Digital.