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What is Cruise Control and How to Use It

If you will be driving for miles without any significant change in speed or steering, then there is a function that can come in handy, making your journey easier and taking the stress out of driving: Cruise control. In the past, you would only find it in high-end luxury cars, with the 1958 Chrysler Imperial being the first car with cruise control (then called “Auto Pilot”). However, nowadays, cruise control has become a common feature in most cars as a standard.

In this article, we will explore what cruise control is, how it works, its benefits, and when not to use it.

What is Cruise Control?

Cruise control is an electronic feature that makes managing long-distance journeys and commutes easier by allowing you to set a speed limit and keeping your vehicle driving at that speed. This means you’ll be able to take your foot off the accelerator and your car will keep on steadily maintaining the speed you previously set.

It’s important to bear in mind though that if you have a manual transmission vehicle, you will still need to change gears before engaging cruise control, whereas when it comes to automatic cars, gear changes will be carried out by the system.

How Does Cruise Control Work?

Cruise control must be activated by the driver to kick in. Once you’ve switched it on and set your speed, it will then regulate the engine to keep your car driving at a constant speed. You can then take your foot off the gas and the car will maintain your chosen level of engine power. However, make sure to keep your feet near the pedals and your eyes on the road in case any sudden hazard appears. And remember, if the brake pedal is pressed, this will deactivate cruise control for safety reasons.

How Do I Set Cruise Control?

Cruise control activation will depend on your car’s make and model, but most systems work similarly. Generally speaking, you will need to build up your speed and switch on cruise control once you’ve reached your desired speed.

In most vehicles, the buttons to control cruise control will be on your steering wheel and a light will appear on the dashboard once activated. You will then need to press the “set” button for the feature to communicate with your vehicle and tell it to hold your current speed. You can then take your foot off the accelerator and have your car maintain its speed. To increase or decrease your cruising speed use respectively “SET+” and “SET-“. You’ll also be able to deactivate cruise control by pressing the cancel button (CAN) or braking, in which case it’s automatically deactivated for safety reasons.

We would recommend however, to read your vehicle handbook to find out exactly how your cruise control works and should you be testing it for the first time, we would recommend doing it in a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot, so that you’re aware of how to set it and deactivate it, as opposed to fiddling with the buttons whilst on a motorway journey, where it could be very dangerous!

Using cruise control in the motorways

When Should I Use Cruise Control?

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to use cruise control on fast roads such as motorways, dual carriageways, and A-Roads, where you can keep the same speed for miles on end. As a result, it’s not suited for driving around a town with variable speed limits. If you wanted to maintain a maximum speed whilst driving around your town, you would be best using a speed limiter, which your car is very likely to have if it’s equipped with cruise control.

Remember though, you will still need to focus on the road before you as cruise control won’t help flag obstacles or hazards.

What Are the Benefits of Cruise Control?

There are several benefits given by using cruise control such as:

  • Makes Long Trips Comfortable: You’ll be able to take your foot off the pedal and stretch your legs while your car takes care of the speed.
  • Avoid Fines: Keeping a constant speed using cruise control will allow you to avoid going above the speed limit and being caught by speed cameras.
  • It May Save Fuel: With cruise control, you won’t accelerate and brake manually but maintain a constant speed throughout, using less fuel by the end of your journey. In fact, according to the Department of Transport, by driving at a steady speed of 60mph, you can improve your fuel economy by up to 25%

When Should I Not Use Cruise Control?

Even if cruise control has many benefits, there are some instances where it’s advisable not to use it as it’s unsafe. Normally you should avoid cruise control in:

  • Heavy traffic
  • Roads with lots of bends
  • Going downhill
  • Approaching a narrow bridge
  • Bad weather (as the road may be slippery and there are chances of sliding)
  • Foggy weather (as visibility is impacted and you would need control of your speed at all times in case of any hazards or obstacles on the road)
  • Late at night (as having cruise control on may cause you to fall asleep and potentially lose control of your vehicle)

We hope this article has helped you understand what cruise control is, how to use it, and when it’s not safe to use. However, should you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Tags: *Cruise_Control *Safety *Car_Safety *Cruise *Car_Education *Car_How_To

Written by Lucrezia | 3.40 min read
27 Mar 2023