Cruise control is often intimidating for drivers who have never used it, as when they take their foot off the accelerator and the car doesn’t slow down, they feel like they are no longer in control of the car. Once you become familiar with how cruise control works and get used to it, you may find it a real benefit to your driving.
Your car’s cruise control function can make longer journeys more comfortable and can even help to save money on fuel. In addition, the cruise control feature will allow you to maintain your speed limit and avoid speeding fines. Cruise control is primarily suited for those who are going to be driving at a steady speed of at least 30 mph without constant stopping – so, on a motorway or highway rather than on a street with frequent traffic lights.
Each car has a slightly different layout for the cruise control controls, but they are usually located on the steering wheel or a column stalk behind the steering wheel. The main controls are ‘Set’, ‘Cancel’, ‘Resume’ and ‘On/Off’. You can usually adjust the programmed speed up or down using the same buttons – check your owner’s manual for specific instructions for your car. To initiate cruise control for your car, you must first accelerate to the desired speed over 30 mph – then press ‘Set’. Your car will now maintain its current speed without the need to keep your foot on the accelerator.
Turning off cruise control is as simple as applying the brake, pressing the ‘Cancel’ or ‘On/Off’ buttons or pushing the clutch pedal in a manual car. The feature is set up so that even a gentle tap of the brake pedal will shut cruise control off – requiring you to control the speed using your gas pedal again. Most cars’ cruise control systems will allow you to return to your previously programmed speed by pressing ‘Resume’. With cruise control, you can rest easy knowing that you can comfortably take that long distance drive without putting strain on your legs.
Some advantages to taking advantage of your car’s cruise control feature are:
Cruise control improves your comfort while driving
You can comfortably take long road trips, or drive distances over 30 mph without putting strain on your legs through having to hold your foot in a set position for extended periods to manually control the gas pedal and speed. With cruise control activated, you can sit back, relax your right leg, and steer your vehicle. When you need to slow down or stop, simply tap the brakes to deactivate.
Cruise control gives you better control over your speed
If you’re one who’s heavy on the gas pedal, or has a habit of speeding – the cruise control feature can be your best friend. Activate this feature to maintain the speed limit, and avoid those expensive speeding tickets. It also prevents you from creeping over the speed limit accidentally. When the speed limits change, you can easily adjust your cruise control settings to match – as long as it’s more than 30 mph.
Cruise control can improve your fuel consumption
Keeping your driving speeds steady can help you save money on fill-ups. Most drivers are fairly inconsistent at maintaining a given speed, instead creeping up and drifting down as you drive along a road as you manually adjust relative to the speed limit and road conditions such as hills. Accelerating and braking continuously will use considerably more fuel than maintaining a set speed.
According to the Car Care Council, faster drivers can save more money on fuel by not speeding and then over-using the brakes to regularly come back down to the speed limit or slow down for other drivers. The faster you drive, the more fuel you will use. Each 5 mph over 50 mph lowers the gas mileage that one can expect to get per gallon. Get into the habit of using cruise control to curb any aggressive driving tendencies.
Cruise control can work to your advantage in a variety of ways. Be sure to read your car’s user manual for specific details on how to operate your vehicle’s cruise control feature. Also remember that when using cruise control, you won’t have to control your accelerator – but you still must control the brake pedal at all times. In addition, the brake pedal will disable cruise control, so be aware if the brake pedal is accidentally hit or pressed while driving.
You should also read: How well do you know your dashboard warning lights?
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