Everything you need to know about Cruise Control
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Team CARS24
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Cruise Control: All you need to know for a relaxed cruise

Team CARS24
editor

Cruise control is among the most practical and innovative technologies that are found in cars. This feature makes cars more comfortable for individuals who drive on expressways regularly. A cruise control mode allows a driver to effortlessly maintain a consistent pace for as long as it is set based on the type of vehicle. This also aids in the reduction of tiredness, which is especially beneficial when driving for long periods. Cruise control technologies make driving practically painless while also cutting fuel usage and emissions. 

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What is cruise control?

Basically, cruise control is a feature that maintains the speed of a car at a speed set by the driver without him needing to use the accelerator or brake pedals. This feature maintains the speed of the vehicle without any intervention by the driver. Through this feature, the car continues moving at the set speed without letting it increase or reduce the speed. This feature is now available even in the top versions of some of the affordable cars in India.

How cruise control works?

Essentially, cruise control is a feature that replicates the driver’s action of acceleration and braking to maintain the vehicle at the set speed. However, it does this without actually using the accelerator or brake pedals to maintain a constant speed. At first, this system made use of cables to control acceleration without manual intervention. The speed was adjusted by engaging the throttle through an actuator controlled by a cable. Depending on the speed set by the driver, the actuator adjusted the throttle position for required power and speed generation.

However, thanks to modern technology, cruise control systems are now fully electronic. Instead of any cable, the system governs the throttle through various sensors that are connected to the Electronic Control Unit (ECU). Hence, as soon s the driver sets a speed, the ECU calculates the throttle position that’s required to maintain the speed and controls the throttle wirelessly. This speed is maintained irrespective of the road conditions through adjustment of the throttle.

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How to use cruise control?

Before you put the car in cruise control mode, do keep in mind that this feature is not meant to be used in adverse weather or road conditions. For example, it’s best not to use this mode in rain or low visibility. Basically, avoid using it when road conditions are not predictable. Here are the steps use cruise control in car-

  1. Reach the speed that you want to maintain using the cruise control.
  2. Once you reach the desired speed, switch on the cruise control. Generally, you’ll find the option of this feature on the steering wheel.
  3. Take the foot off the accelerator. Once you do so, the car will continue to maintain the speed at which you took the foot off the accelerator pedal.
  4. Constantly keep an eye on the road to avoid mishap.
  5. If you want to increase the speed, press the + button on the steering wheel to accelerate.
  6. Press – button on the steering to set the cruise control at a lower speed. You can also press the brake pedal. However if you use the pedal, cruise control will be disengaged.
  7. The placement of cruise control buttons may vary between cars. Hence, it’s important to familiarise yourself with their location before you start driving.

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Advantages of cruise control in car

Of course, the biggest advantage of cruise control in car is that it makes driving more convenient. But like many other features, it comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here are some advantages of cruise control in a car-

  1. Reduces Fatigue – The basic role of cruise control in car is to maintain a speed without the driver having to regulate it through the accelerator pedal. So, the driver can simply rest his right foot and stay relaxed. This reduces driver fatigue on long journeys.
  2. Enhances Fuel Mileage – Once a constant speed is maintained, the engine doesn’t get stressed as there is no need for its RPM to change. Simply speaking, once an engine runs at a constant RPM, it uses less fuel. This way, the fuel mileage is improved.
  3. Helps You Drive Within Speed Limit – On engaging the cruise control at a legal speed, it will maintain that speed under all circumstances. This will help you avoid getting fined for overspending by mistake.
  4. Increase/Decrease Speed Through Buttons- Instead of using the accelerator or brake pedals to increase or decrease the speed of the car, you can simply use buttons. This way, you won’t need to re-engage the cruise control at the new speed. It also helps you not use your right foot at all.
  5. A great option for automatic cars- Cruise control in automatic cars doesn’t warrant the use of the left foot owing to no manual operation of the clutch. With cruise control, you can even relax your right foot a bit. This helps you control an automatic car simply using the steering.

Disadvantages of cruise control in car  

Let us now look at some disadvantages of having cruise control in car –

  1. Not useful on all Indian roads – Cruise control is best suited for wide straight highways with disciplined traffic. While India is fast getting some great highways, most roads are still not wide enough. Moreover, most of the drivers are not disciplined. Their unpredictable driving can render cruise control a risky affair.
  2. Increases Reaction Time – As your right foot won’t be on the accelerator pedal, it might take longer for you to quickly press the brake pedal in an emergency situation. Plus, as you’ll be in a more relaxed state than usual, even your reaction time could be longer. So, with Indian roads having indisciplined traffic and the infrastructure not being good enough, having cruise control might end up being quite risky.
  3. Can Make You Drowsy – Using cruise control over a longer duration could make you so relaxed that it might induce drowsiness. So, it’s the best idea to disengage cruise control every 10 minutes and control the car manually for a while before re-engaging it.
  4. Can’t Be Used at Nights – The cruise control system is useless in night driving due to poor visibility. This is simply because your reaction time would be longer in case of low visibility. Hence, it gets simply too risky to use this feature in the dark.
  5. Not a Good Option for Manual Cars – Does cruise control work with manual transmission? Now, this is a pretty common question. While manual cars often offer cruise control mode, it’s not at all a good idea to use this feature. This is simply because one needs to change gears manually. Hence, to maintain a speed, it can be irritating to manually change gears to maintain the optimum RPM. This reduces the convenience that’s expected out of the usage of this feature.

How to install cruise control in a car?

Can you install cruise control in a car? Well, the answer is yes as well as no. There are aftermarket cruise control kits available for old cars that don’t rely on an ECU to control the engine. However, the system doesn’t work as smoothly as it does on modern cars that come factory-fitted with it. Plus, installing an aftermarket cruise control system is near impossible in modern cars that rely heavily on electronics.

Fiddling with the electronics to install the feature in modern cars is not a simple task. Moreover, even if you get it right, it’s sure to void the car’s warranty. For all practical reasons, cruise control is something that should be installed at the time of manufacturing. What this means is that it’s best to buy a car with this feature than to plan on adding one later.

Also Read: Should Seatbelts for Rear Seat Passengers be Mandated by Law? 9 out of 10 Indians Support This: CARS24 Survey

Adaptive cruise control

Many modern cars come with a more advanced version of cruise control that’s called Adaptive Cruise Control. As the name suggests, this feature can successfully adjust the vehicle’s speed automatically. It does it based on the speed of the vehicle ahead. It also helps in collision avoidance by reducing the speed or bringing the car to a complete halt based on the obstacle ahead. This works out to be a great feature to have on the highways or even during rush hour as it reduces driver fatigue by a huge margin.

Basically, this system lets you automatically maintain a safe distance from the car ahead without manual intervention. This distance is maintained even if the car up ahead continues to change its speed. This system is also a part of the Level 1 Autonomous Driver Assistance Technology. The system features a radar to calculate the distance and speed of the vehicle ahead. It then adjusts the throttle accordingly to maintain a constant distance from the vehicle up ahead. This feature is generally found only in premium cars but it’s fast tricking down to more affordable models.

Adaptive cruise control vs cruise control

The table we have below gives you a quick Adaptive Cruise Control vs Cruise Control comparison –

Cruise Control Adaptive Cruise Control
Maintains the speed set by the car’s driver. Maintains a constant speed relative to the speed of the vehicles ahead.
It can’t maintain a constant distance with the vehicle ahead.It can calculate the speed and distance of the vehicles ahead and maintain a constant distance from it by adjusting the speed of the vehicle.
Uses sensors to decide the throttle position to be used.  Uses radars to calculate the speed and distance of the cars ahead and maintains a speed accordingly.
Good option for high-speed driving on the expressways.Can be used in city as well as on highways.
Now available in most cars except for budget models Mostly available on premium cars only

What is the difference between cruise control and speed limiter?

The basic difference between cruise control and speed limiter is that the former maintains a speed set by the driver. On the other hand, the speed limiter prevents the vehicle from going over a certain speed but it doesn’t maintain a speed set manually.

List of Cruise Control cars In India

Cruise control is a feature that is fast becoming common. While it used to be on offer on premium cars, now it’s available even on more affordable models. Here’s the list of some popular cruise control cars in India.

  • Maruti Ciaz     
  • Skoda Rapid    
  • Skoda Kushaq
  • Jeep Compass
  • Renault Duster
  • Maruti Swift    
  • Tata Harrier    
  • Mahindra Thar            
  • Hyundai Tucson          
  • Kia Sonet
  • Maruti Dzire    
  • Tata Safari       
  • Mahindra XUV300      
  • Honda Jazz      
  • Honda WR-V
  • Maruti Vitara Brezza   
  • Hyundai i20     
  • Mahindra XUV500      
  • Honda Amaze
  • Nissan Kicks
  • Maruti XL6      
  • Hyundai Aura  
  • Mahindra Alturas G4  
  • Honda City      
  • Hyundai Venue           
  • Volkswagen Polo        
  • Nissan Magnite           
  • Toyota Fortuner
  • Tata Altroz      
  • Hyundai Creta
  • Volkswagen Vento      
  • Ford EcoSport
  • Toyota Innova Crysta
  • Tata Nexon     
  • Hyundai Alcazar          
  • Hyundai Verna            
  • Kia Seltos        
  • Toyota Camry

List of Adaptive Cruise control cars in India

Adaptive cruise control is something that’s still available mostly only on the costlier cars. Here is a list of some popular adaptive cruise control cars in India –

  • MG Gloster     
  • Volvo XC60 
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class
  • Volvo XC40
  • Mercedes-Benz G-CLass         
  • Volvo XC90
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class           
  • Volvo S90
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • Volvo V90
  • Volvo S60        

Conclusion

As you just read, cruise control is a great option to reduce driver fatigue over long drives. It’s also a good tool to help you avoid over-speeding. However, like everything, it comes with its own share of problems. The biggest issue is that it might lead to longer reaction times in emergency situations. This can even lead to accidents. Hence, the wise use of this feature is highly advisable. While the risk is reduced by an extent through the advent of Adaptive Cruise Control, this feature can still not replace manual control and judgement. Therefore, even though you can use the cruise control mode to improve your driving experience, we strongly advise you to be fully alert of the surroundings while using it.

FAQs

Do all cars have cruise control as a standard feature?

No, it’s available either on costly cars or on the top-end variants of some of the affordable cars.

Can cruise control be installed in a car?

In theory, you can. However, it’s highly impractical and can cause permanent damage to your car’s electronics. It also voids the warranty. Hence, it’s advisable to refrain from aftermarket installation of this feature.

Where can I find the cruise control button in my car?

In most cars, the cruise control button can be found on the steering wheel. However, the exact location may vary between vehicles.

Does cruise control work with manual transmission?

Yes, some manual cars come with the cruise control system. However, as they don’t have automatic transmissions, using this feature is often not too convenient.

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