When driving long distances, one of the key features of cars that can help you relieve the strain is the inclusion of cruise control, which helps keep your vehicle moving without having you step on the accelerator.

Cruise Control

Cruise control had already appeared on cars back in the early 1900s, and goes back even further to the 17th century if you include cruise control on steam engines. Cruise control for vehicles then continued to evolve during the boom of cars in the 1950s and onwards.

Cruise control typically can only be set when the car goes above a certain speed, because driving at lower speeds is typically found in city driving or stop-and-go traffic, where there will be many obstacles around you such as pedestrians and other vehicles, which is unsuitable to use cruise control for.

The common way that cruise control works is the engine will maintain the throttle cable at the speed set either by using a solenoid or the electronics system of the car if the car’s throttle is controlled by the electronics. 

How to set Cruise Control

For older cars, you must first bring your car up to the speed you want the cruise control to maintain, then lock the speed in and your car will automatically help you maintain that speed without having you control the accelerator of your car.

The cruise controls on cars are set to disable themselves when you step on the brake or clutch of the car, as to prevent the possibility of your car accelerating when you want to slow down your car. You must then reset the cruise control if you want to continue using it.

If you want to temporarily accelerate faster, you can still do so by pressing the accelerator of your car. Once you’ve done accelerating, the car will then slow down back to the pre-set cruise control speed.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Newer cars have an even more advanced cruise control function called adaptive cruise control, which automatically adapts the speed of the cruise control to the car in front of you.

This is useful on highways with more vehicles, where you might need to frequently slow down or set a lower cruise control speed, and saves you the hassle of resetting the cruise control when you press on the brakes to slow down.

Some cars also have a speed limiter built into the cruise control, to prevent the car from going too fast over the preset max limit, especially when the car is going downhill, but it will only stop accelerating and not apply the brakes for you.

Cruise control is a good feature for cars, but when using it, make sure to still pay attention to your surroundings. And only use cruise control when there are no hazards around and it is safe to use.