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How to Use Cruise Control

Stephen Rampur
Cruise control is a very important feature to be considered if you are on a long drive on the highway. This Story sheds light on using cruise control effectively.
The automobile industry keeps on inventing different systems in order to provide comfort and safety to drivers. While driving on a long stretch of a highway for hours, it is quite possible that your legs, because of the efforts of maintaining continuous pressure on the gas pedal, may start to pain.
In order to prevent this problem, cars manufactured today are incorporated with an amazing technology known as 'cruise control'.

What is Cruise Control?

Cruise control is an impressive technology that gives a driver the freedom to drive the car at a steady speed, without the need of having to keep continuous pressure on the gas pedal. The technology is also referred to as speed control, autocruise and by various other names given by car brands. When the driver needs the car to move at a constant speed, he takes the car to a speed he wants to set, and engages the cruise control function.
The system can be controlled with buttons. This is when the system takes over the throttle control, resulting in the speed being constant. After the cruise control has maintained the speed, the driver will not have to keep the gas pedal pressed. This is mostly done when the person needs to drive on a straight long highway for a while. Remember that this will not work if the speed you are driving at is below 25 mph.

Using Cruise Control

This mainly depends on the type of system and controls that are available, as different brands may support different ways of operation. Typically, the related controls are placed on the left side of the steering wheel. Here we are going to take a system into consideration which incorporates On/Off, Set, and Resume buttons.
Cruise control on a long highway stretch is only a matter of commanding the system by pressing buttons. Before activating this, you will have to drive the car at a speed that you intend to set for the drive and system to maintain. Once you reach the desired speed, press the 'On' button and then the 'Set' button. By doing so, the car will automatically maintain the specific speed.
If you want to deactivate cruise control, you just have to press on the brakes lightly, or the clutch in some cars. Some car models even have an additional 'Cancel' button to deactivate. If you want to return to the set speed again, say after negotiating a sharp bend or a traffic signal, simply press the 'Resume' button.
While in this mode, if you want to increase the speed, you will have to keep the Resume button pressed until you reach the speed you want. If you want to increase the speed gradually, keep pressing and releasing the Resume button for short durations, which will increase the speed by the rate of every mile each time you do so.
For reducing speed in this mode, simple use the 'Set' button in the same manner instead of 'Resume'. In need of sudden acceleration such as when overtaking, simply press on the gas and complete the task manually. After the pedal is released, the cruise control will take over. If you want to turn off cruise control totally, simply press the 'Off' button, and the vehicle is yours to handle. This will wipe out the memory of the set speeds previously used.
To use cruise control, remember that you need to press 'On' and then 'Set' in succession. If you press the 'On' button long before deciding to use cruise control, you may accidentally hit the 'Set' button. This may result in confusion, you losing traction and a mishap. Therefore, it is suggested to press the 'On' button just before using the 'Set' button. Remember that this feature is supposed to be used only on straight highways, where there is no need to change speed frequently.

When Setting Cruise Control is Inappropriate

Cruise control is not suitable for driving on roads with lots of turns, inclines, and declines. This is due to frequent braking needed, which may deactivate the system very often. This is also a reason why the system is not suitable in heavy or city traffic.
Since the vehicle speed is controlled by the computer, driving on snowy and slippery roads is not a good idea, as it may lead to slippage and traction loss. Improper use of this technology may lead to problems. Some companies have advanced systems which contribute to a safer drive.

Advanced Cruise Control Systems

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), also referred to as Autonomous Cruise Control System, uses advanced technologies to operate automatic braking and acceleration while in this mode. It mainly uses a laser or radar-guided system that detects the distance of the vehicle ahead and prepares for braking, and accelerates when a clear lane is detected.
Few such technologies are:
  • Intelligent Cruise Control - Nissan
  • Active Cruise Control - BMW
  • Distronic Plus - Mercedes-Benz
  • Smart Cruise Control - Hyundai
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control - Lexus
Cruise control is just one technology implemented in cars produced today. There are many other safety technologies that work in coordination with cruise control. Using this system properly provides you with convenience and also low fuel costs on long drives. A majority of top-end luxury cars and SUVs have this feature as a standard.