In-car tech: Cruise control

As part of our in-car tech month, we’re looking at cruise control and how it could be a bigger help than you may have thought.


By Marmalade Author

Updated on Aug 4th, 2022

Cruise control is a nifty little feature that you will find in most modern cars, but what does it do? Basically, it sets the car to drive at a continuous speed, without you having to keep your foot on the accelerator, which – let’s be honest, is a bonus! It’s able to make long journeys much more comfortable, and can even save you money on fuel consumption because you won’t be speeding up and slowing down.

It’s suited for roads where you’ll be going at a steady speed, of at least 30 mph. It’s mainly used by motorists who are on the motorway when travelling at a consistent speed. It’s probably not wise to use your cruise control in an area where you may need to slow down and stop at traffic lights for example.

Who wants cruise control?

In a recent survey of 371, it seems younger drivers are more eager to get their hands on this piece of in-car tech, to help make their journeys as smooth as possible with 47% of young drivers who love their cruise control or wish they had it, versus 39% of drivers over the age of 25 who could do without it! It looks like us young folk love a nifty bit of in-car tech! Either that, or we’re all just getting lazier as the years go on… who knows!

Where is my cruise control and how do I use it?

Cruise control will control the speed of your car in the same way that you do, by adjusting the throttle- the only difference is, it doesn’t use the pedal. It will keep you travelling at the speed you have set so you don’t have to worry about keeping your foot on the gas. Pretty much what it says on the tin then! You will usually find a button or switch for your cruise control called on, off, resume, set, accelerate or coast – but it’s best to check your owner’s manual to see what is in your car and figure out how to use it. It’s best to know this in advance because trying to figure it out whilst you’re travelling at 70 mph down the motorway is probably not the best idea!

Of course – you will need to slow down at some point or another. To stop the cruise control, you usually tap the brakes slightly and you are back in full control of the car. Of course, even if you’re not controlling the speed you do still have control over the whole vehicle, so you will need to make sure that you’re vigilant and apply the brakes when needed. Because this generally stops the cruise control from working, you’ll be back in control of the gas pedal too, until you restart your cruise control.

Keeping to the speed limit

Cruise control is a great way to make sure you’re not exceeding the speed limit– especially useful when you are travelling through sections or road with a variable speed limit. If you’re in a 50? Set it at 50! You don’t have to worry and keep your eye on the speed gauge, because your cruise control will have you covered! Bear in mind that this definitely isn’t a chance to sit back and relax – if you’re using cruise control, you must be extra vigilant of your surroundings, and remain aware of maintaining a good stopping distance. Fancy getting your hands on a better bit of kit? Adaptive cruise control is an optional system that automatically adjusts the vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front. Now, this is the future, people!

Save money on fuel

Keeping your car at a steady speed will help you with your fuel consumption because you won’t be accelerating and then overusing the brakes to slow yourself down. If you tend to be a speed demon out on the roads, it’s probably costing you more than you realise. Cruise control will help you save money whilst keeping you within the speed limit and the law – winner!

On your marks, get set, cruise!

Whilst using cruise control for the first time can seem like a scary thing to do, it can be a good habit to get into. Don’t let the fear of you not being in control of the car put you off using your cruise control function because it is there to make all of our lives easier. Just make sure you’re familiar with how to use it, and you’re good to go. It’ll become your best friend before you know it!

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By Marmalade Author

Providing tips and advice for young drivers on all aspects of driving - from getting through the driving test to buying and running your first car.

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