What is cruise control? Benefits of using cruise control

What is cruise control? Cruise control allows you to maintain a set speed without using the accelerator. Once you’ve selected the speed, you can take your foot off the accelerator and the vehicle will cruise at that speed.

What is cruise control?

Cruise control is a feature that comes in handy when you drive at a constant speed. It is an electric system that allows you to set your car to a specific speed, letting you take your foot off the accelerator pedal. So, it can ease foot-fatigue and stress over a long drive. Another great benefit to using cruise control is that you are going to have greater fuel efficiency.

What is cruise control

Your vehicle will consume much less fuel if you cruise at a steady speed rather than accelerating at each section of the open road. When you accelerate sharply, it makes your engine use more energy, and you could be using 60% more fuel than one who uses cruise control. Ultimately, it’s not hard to save on fuel if you let your vehicle automatically maintain a steady cruising speed.

The leading edge of cruise control today is adaptive cruise control. Almost all cars now will be equipped with this smart system. Just as conventional cruise control, adaptive cruise control allows you to set a desired travel speed. But the difference is that the adaptive cruise control maintains a safe distance between the car in front of you and your car at a consistent pace by using the forward-mounted sensors.

For instance, if the car ahead of your vehicle begins to slow, adaptive cruise control will use the engine brake to automatically slow the pace of your vehicle and maintain the selected distance. Many say adaptive cruise control is a step to autonomous cars in the future. But it is not quite fully autonomous driving, since you have to keep your hands on the wheel and be fully cognizant of the road.

How to use cruise control?

Typically, the cruise control buttons can be found on the right-hand side of the steering wheel. Depending on the car, the location of the controls can vary, but the functionality of the cruise control will usually be similar across the board. Here are the basic buttons you can use to operate cruise control.

ON/OFF: To set the cruise control, press the ON/OFF button. You will see the cruise light illuminate on the dashboard which means the system is activated. To turn the system off, press this button again.

Res +: Press this button if you want to increase the cruising speed. Each time you hit the button, the vehicle will accelerate by 1 mph. You can also use this button to resume your previously set speed.

Set -: This button will decrease the set speed. Each time you press the button, the cruising speed will decrease by 1 mph. Once you reached the desired speed, hit the “Set” button and the “Cruise Set” icon will appear on the dashboard. Then you can take your foot off the gas pedal and the car will maintain the speed for you.

Cancel: When it’s time to cancel the cruise control mode, like when you exit the highway or if there is heavy traffic ahead, press this button to disengage the cruise control system. Or you can simply depress the brake pedal to cancel the system.

How cruise control work?

While driving on an open road for a long time, it would be pretty tiring to keep pressing the accelerator pedal. Cruise control is a feature that helps reduce such fatigue drivers would feel while driving a long distance. The system imitates the way human drivers drive. But instead of pressing the accelerator pedal, it uses an actuator to control the throttle and helps your car continue cruising at the same speed.

The cruise control system used in older cars is connected to the accelerator through a cable to maintain the gas pedal in a certain position to keep the pre-set speed. Whereas the system in newer cars electronically manages the speed through a program without a cable. Instead, a computer connected with various sensors and throttle controls operates the feature through a wireless system.

What is cruise control

This newer technology can automatically adjust the speed based on how fast the vehicle ahead is going while maintaining a safe distance. It dramatically reduces drivers’ fatigue since drivers do not have to press and release the accelerator pedal repeatedly. Drivers will find the system particularly useful on highways or roads with traffic jams during rush hour.

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Types of cruise control systems

Today, drivers can choose from a range of cruise control systems, each with its own unique features and functionalities.

Conventional cruise control

Conventional cruise control is like your old reliable friend. It’s pretty basic and doesn’t have any fancy bells and whistles. You just set the speed you want, and it’ll keep your car cruising along at that speed, no problem. It’s perfect for those long drives on open highways, but it doesn’t automatically react to other cars on the road.

So, if the car in front of you slows down, you’ll need to step in and adjust your speed manually. This trusty system comes standard on most cars and is great for saving some fuel on those long road trips.

Adaptive cruise control (ACC)

Two companies are developing a more advanced cruise control that can automatically adjust a car’s speed to maintain a safe following distance. This new technology, called adaptive cruise control, uses forward-looking radar, installed behind the grill of a vehicle, to detect the speed and distance of the vehicle ahead of it.

Adaptive cruise control is similar to conventional cruise control in that it maintains the vehicle’s pre-set speed. However, unlike conventional cruise control, this new system can automatically adjust speed in order to maintain a proper distance between vehicles in the same lane. This is achieved through a radar headway sensor, digital signal processor and longitudinal controller.

If the lead vehicle slows down, or if another object is detected, the system sends a signal to the engine or braking system to decelerate. Then, when the road is clear, the system will re-accelerate the vehicle back to the set speed.

The 77-GHz Autocruise radar system made by TRW has a forward-looking range of up to 492 feet (150 meters), and operates at vehicle speeds ranging from 18.6 miles per hour (30 kph) to 111 mph (180 kph). Delphi’s 76-GHz system can also detect objects as far away as 492 feet, and operates at speeds as low as 20 mph (32 kph).

Adaptive cruise control is just a preview of the technology being developed by both companies. These systems are being enhanced to include collision warning capabilities that will warn drivers through visual and/or audio signals that a collision is imminent and that braking or evasive steering is needed.

Predictive cruise control

Predictive Cruise Control is like the fortune teller of cruise control systems. It uses GPS and map data to see into the future and predict what’s coming up on the road, like hills or curves, and adjusts your speed accordingly. This means you get a smoother ride and better fuel efficiency, but it all depends on the quality of the GPS and map data. If that’s a bit out of date, your fortune-telling cruise control might not be so accurate. It’s usually found in more high-end vehicles where top-notch fuel efficiency is a focus for the engineers.

Cooperative adaptive cruise control (CACC)

And then we have Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control, or CACC. This is like the team player of cruise control systems. It allows cars to talk to each other, coordinating their speeds to maintain a safe distance. It’s like having a well-coordinated team of cars all working together to make the traffic flow smoother and reduce congestion.

Picture it like a synchronized dance on the highway, where every car knows its place and keeps the right distance. This tech is still pretty new, but it’s got a lot of potential. Imagine a future where traffic jams could be a thing of the past.

Remember, these systems are here to make your drive smoother and safer, but they’re not a replacement for your attention. No matter how fancy your cruise control is, these systems can be greatly influenced by external conditions like weather and traffic, and they should always be used as aids, not replacements, for attentive driving.

Cruise control acceleration and deceleration

The cruise control system controls the speed of your car the same way you do — by adjusting the throttle position. But cruise control actuates the throttle valve by a cable connected to an actuator, instead of by pressing a pedal. The throttle valve controls the power and speed of the engine by limiting how much air the engine takes in (see How Fuel Injection Systems Work for more details).

What is cruise control

One cable comes from the accelerator pedal, and one from the actuator. When the cruise control is engaged, the actuator moves the cable connected to the pivot, which adjusts the throttle; but it also pulls on the cable that is connected to the gas pedal — this is why your pedal moves up and down when the cruise control is engaged.

Many cars use actuators powered by engine vacuum to open and close the throttle. These systems use a small, electronically-controlled valve to regulate the vacuum in a diaphragm. This works in a similar way to the brake booster, which provides power to your brake system.

Is cruise control more fuel efficient?

Yes. Increasing your vehicle’s speed uses fuel. While cruising, even a highly competent driver who isn’t using cruise control will tend to slow down and speed up in a repeated cycle, possibly several times per minute. Though fluctuations in speed may be slight, they do cause your engine to use more fuel than required. Point is, the more time you spend at a steady speed, the less fuel your engine needs.

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For most drivers, using cruise control on the highway at 80 km/h can reduce fuel consumption by about 20 per cent. For drivers who find difficulty in maintaining a steady speed and frequently experience big fluctuations, using cruise control can cut fuel use by over 40 per cent.

Depending on what you drive and how fast you drive it, using cruise control could save you between $4 and $20 per hour — based on information from Natural Resources Canada that shows most drivers who don’t use cruise control on the highway will tend to experience a 10 km/h speed fluctuation about three times per minute.

Drivers who have the most difficulty managing their cruising speed could be using 60 per cent more fuel than they need to.

Is cruise control bad for your transmission?

No. Your vehicle’s engine, transmission and other components are designed to work hand-in-hand with its cruise control system and are extensively tested and integrated with one another for trouble-free performance.

Using cruise control also reduces wear and tear on both your engine and transmission by running things more smoothly and steadily, and reducing workload on both components.

Can you add cruise control to a car?

Yes. Depending on the year, make and model, cruise control may be available for add-on or retrofit. Professional installation is recommended, and you’ll want to talk to a professional about the specific availability of parts and integration for your vehicle.

In many cases with modern cars, it’s generally easier and more cost effective to just opt for a unit equipped with cruise control from the factory. Cruise control is widely available as standard equipment on most modern vehicles.

Can cruise control get stuck?

Yes, but it’s extremely rare. Older cable-based cruise control systems seem more prone to this rare problem, in which the cable can slip or bind, making the throttle stick into position. More modern vehicles with electronic throttle and monitoring systems make this problem even less likely.

If the cruise control on your car fails to disengage when you want to slow down, slip the vehicle into neutral to disconnect drive power from the wheels, pull over, and address the situation.

However, chances are, you’ll never experience this problem.

When should cruise control be used?

Any time you’re trying to drive at a constant speed. Whether around town at 60 km/h, in a residential area at 40 km/h, or out on the highway at 105 km/h, switching the cruise control on makes for a smoother and more fuel efficient drive that’s easier on your engine and transmission. it can also help you do your part to maintain the steady and efficient flow of traffic.

Most cruise control systems can be engaged at speeds above 30 km/h.

When should cruise control not be used?

Any time you can’t safely drive at a steady speed. If the road surface is snowy, icy, slushy or very wet, you’ll want to think twice about switching your cruise control on.

In older cars, having your cruise control engaged on a wet or icy road could allow the vehicle to accelerate or experience wheelspin when driven wheels encounter a low-traction surface. Here, the cruise control system maintains throttle pressure, even in situations where it should be released instead. This could lead to a loss of control.

What is cruise control

In more modern vehicles, electronic monitoring is used to automatically disengage cruise control when one of the following happens:

  • One or more wheels slip
  • One or more wheels leave the surface of the road after a major bump or dip
  • The wipers are set to the maximum speed setting in heavy rain

Use your judgement. Safely navigating certain slippery or dangerous driving conditions requires careful manual control of your vehicle’s throttle, and in these situations, you’re best to leave the cruise control off.

What causes cruise control to kick off?

If the cruise control in your vehicle suddenly kicks off, a few things may be to blame.

Sometimes, cruise control disengages automatically when the vehicle’s automatic wipers detect heavy rainfall, or when a wheel spins or (briefly) leaves the surface of the road after a big bump or dip. In other situations, there may be a problem with one or more sensors or switches, including the brake pedal switch, throttle position sensor, or one or more wheel speed sensors.

Your modern cruise control system relies on various sensors and switches to do its job properly. As a failsafe, any problem with these sensors can cause the cruise control system to go offline. If you notice this happening regularly, have your vehicle diagnosed by a professional.

Will the cruise control work with an ABS light on?

Probably not. Your car’s Antilock Braking System works hand-in-hand with your cruise control system, and any fault with the ABS system will typically take your cruise control offline until it’s fixed.

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An ABS warning light in your instrument cluster can indicate one of several major problems or malfunctions, so be sure to have a professional investigate as quickly as possible.

Cruise control vs. adaptive cruise control

Adaptive cruise control is an advanced version of the existing cruise control system. With the conventional system, the vehicle cruises at the speed previously set by the driver without the need to keep pressing the accelerator pedal.

What is cruise control

On the other hand, the adaptive cruise control system does the same; however, it can also calculate the speed of the car ahead of you by using the data from radar sensors and automatically adjust the speed of your vehicle to keep a safe following distance between the vehicles.

If the vehicle ahead slows down, the system detects the reduction of speed and operates the controls to decelerate your car. If the car in front of you changes to another lane, the system gives the engine a signal to accelerate and reach the initially set speed.

Benefits of using cruise control

Cruise control offers several benefits to drivers, especially during long road trips or highway driving.

Fuel efficiency

One of the main advantages of using cruise control is improved fuel efficiency. By maintaining a constant speed, cruise control helps reduce fuel consumption, leading to better gas mileage. Rapid acceleration and deceleration, on the other hand, can lead to increased fuel consumption.

Comfort and convenience

Cruise control allows drivers to take their foot off the accelerator pedal, reducing fatigue and improving comfort during long drives. It also helps drivers avoid unintentionally exceeding the speed limit by setting a maximum speed.


Here are some golden rules to live by when it comes to using your cruise control:

  • On wet roads, it could be dangerous to use cruise control. It will be less effective in the rain, and cruise control may upset the balance and reaction times under rainy conditions.
  • During rush hour, it is a good idea to leave the cruise system off. With conventional cruise control, you will have to continuously turn it off when traffic slows down and you can get into an accident if you are distracted while it is active.
  • On challenging winding roads, you should not use cruise control. Note that cruise control is primarily designed to enable you to cruise on the highway at a set speed. If you are not doing so, it is best not to use it.

Cruise control and road etiquette

Practicing proper road etiquette while using cruise control is essential for a safe and pleasant driving experience. Here are some tips on how to use cruise control courteously:

  • Avoid using cruise control in heavy or congested traffic, as it may hinder your ability to react quickly to changing conditions.
  • Be mindful of other drivers when setting your speed. Avoid setting a speed that’s significantly slower or faster than the flow of traffic.
  • If you are in the passing lane and using cruise control, be sure to adjust your speed or temporarily disengage the system to allow faster-moving vehicles to pass.
  • Always signal your intentions, such as lane changes or exiting the highway, even when using cruise control.

The future of cruise control technology

Cruise control technology plays a vital role in the development of autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars. In autonomous vehicles, cruise control systems work together with other advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to enable the vehicle to operate without direct driver input. These systems include lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and collision avoidance systems.

As autonomous vehicles become more sophisticated, cruise control technology is evolving to support higher levels of automation. For example, some autonomous vehicles are equipped with advanced cruise control systems that can navigate complex traffic scenarios, merge onto highways, and even change lanes autonomously.

What is cruise control

While fully autonomous vehicles are still in the developmental stages, the integration of cruise control technology is a big step toward creating safer and more efficient transportation systems.

As automotive tech continues to advance, cruise control systems are becoming more intelligent and capable. Here are some potential developments we can expect to see in the future of cruise control technology:

  • Integration of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve decision-making and responsiveness in adaptive cruise control systems.
  • Enhanced connectivity and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, enabling cars to share information about traffic conditions and coordinate their speeds for smoother traffic flow.
  • Greater customization and personalization options, allowing drivers to set preferences for cruise control behavior, such as following distance and speed adjustments.

Overall, the future of cruise control technology holds promise for creating a more seamless and enjoyable driving experience, with a focus on safety, comfort, and sustainability.


How does cruise control work?

The cruise control system controls the speed of your car the same way you do — by adjusting the throttle position. But cruise control actuates the throttle valve by a cable connected to an actuator, instead of by pressing a pedal. The throttle valve controls the power and speed of the engine by limiting how much air the engine takes in.

How does adaptive cruise control work?

Like traditional cruise control, adaptive cruise control maintains a vehicle’s pre-set speed. However, this new system can automatically adjust speed in order to maintain a proper distance between vehicles in the same lane. This is achieved through a radar headway sensor, digital signal processor and longitudinal controller.

When would you use cruise control?

Cruise control is best used on long drives where the speed limit remains the same over much of the distance. It’s great for low to no traffic situations where you don’t need to change or adjust speed often.

How useful is cruise control?

Cruise control can reduce a driver’s fatigue and improve comfort while driving. It can also help drivers stay within the speed limit.

Above is information about What is cruise control? that we have compiled. Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of How to use cruise control? Thank you for reading our post.

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