How Does Cruise Control Work?
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated February 17, 2012)
How does cruise control work? Believe it or not, this is a rather common question. When you stop and think about it, it does seem a little far-fetched that all you need to do is push a little button, and you can have your vehicle set at going a certain speed until you stop it. While that simple explanation may work for some, here is a more detailed explanation as well. After all, if you are able to learn how or why a specific system on your vehicle works, you can better understand how to take care of your car.
- Achieve speed desired. Despite what we may see in the movies, or read about in science fiction books, you can't simply push a button and begin traveling at a certain speed. In order to use cruise control effectively, you will need to first be traveling at your desired speed. In an effort to not only drive safely, but also avoid receiving any tickets, it would be a really good idea to have this desired speed be about five miles per hour below the speed limit. Keep in mind though that the cruise control will not engage if you are traveling below 25 mph.
- Press the on button. Once you have reached your optimal cruising speed, it is time for you to get the system ready for taking control. This is done by simply pressing the on button. In all reality, all that this button does is tell your car that you will be turning control of the speed over to it soon.
- Press the set button. To actually engage the cruise control, press the set button. This will keep the vehicle traveling at the same speed that you are currently traveling at. For example, if you are traveling at the speed of 60 mph when you press the set button, you will continue to travel at that speed.
- Adjust the speed. If you would like to adjust the speed, but don't want to disengage the cruise control, you can simply adjust it. To adjust the speed so that you are traveling faster, press the set button again. On most vehicles, this will result in you going one mile per hour faster, so if you want to travel at a faster speed than that press the button a few times. To slow down without disengaging the cruise control, press the coast button. It will react in the same manner as the set button for adjusting speed.
- Resume normal driving. To disengage the cruise control button temporarily, simply tap on your brakes. This gives you the option of being able to reinstate the cruise control by simply tapping the resume button. However, if you wish to completely disengage the cruise control then press the off button, and then tap the brake pedal.