What is Cruise Control?

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What is Cruise Control?

Cruise control is a nifty vehicle feature that helps make long trips a bit easier on drivers. It does so by keeping the car moving at a set speed once the driver engages the system, even after he or she lets up on the accelerator. For convenience and safety, the buttons that operate cruise control are generally located on the steering wheel. This optional amenity, designed for higher speeds, offers a number of worthwhile benefits for people who frequently travel long distances by car. For instance, cruise control optimises comfort for lengthy highway trips, meaning less stop-offs so drivers can stretch their legs.

When shopping for a vehicle, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of cruise control, especially how it works, as well as standard capabilities and limitations. When available on a particular make and model, this convenience feature is appreciated by those who frequently find themselves travelling on U.K. motorways. For increased safety, manufacturers are constantly innovating and improving cruise control systems, enabling them to adjust speed based on distance from other cars. Though it is possible to retrofit certain cars with a cruise control system, this project is best left to experts and professionals.

Cruise Control Basics

Those who have never had the pleasure of driving a long way with assistance from cruise control are likely to wonder just how this system works. While engineers certainly applied plenty of complex mathematical theory when developing the mechanisms behind cruise control, it is not particularly hard to comprehend basic operations and functionality. By way of an actuator, cruise control temporarily overrides manipulation of the throttle, which is the part of the engine responsible for power and speed.

For cruise control to operate as it does, system components are integrated in several areas of a car's design. With help from a small computer, cruise control keeps a consistent speed based on input from the car and driver. In general, the driver speeds up as desired before engaging the cruise control system. Rather than fumbling for another button, a quick tap on the brakes is all that is needed to override the system and regain control of the car. The driver is expected to steer the car at all times.

Deciphering Cruise Control Buttons

While the layout varies from car to car, for safety reasons, cruise control buttons are generally found on the steering wheel, steering column, or dashboard. While some cars have buttons with words, others utilise icons to note their function. The following chart describes a standard cruise control setup.

Name

Function

On/Off

Not found on all systems; on engages system, but does not set the speed; Off disengages the system, as does stepping on the brakes

Set

First tap alerts cruise control to maintain current speed; can hold down to make car accelerate; in some models, tapping increases speed by 1 mph

Resume

Returns car to most recent speed setting after disengagement with brakes

Coast

Decelerates car; in some models, tapping button reduces speed by 1 mph

Before trying a car's cruise control for the first time, drivers are urged to read the user manual for specific instructions. It does not take long to learn how to use cruise control properly, but every vehicle is a bit different, so it is important to learn the function of each button or knob before taking to the road.

The Benefits of Cruise Control

Since cruise control is ideal for large, relatively straight roads, this system is more commonly found on car models designed for the States rather than the European market, which boasts an abundance of curvy, narrow country lanes. Even so, U.K. drivers who commute long distances often seek out a car with cruise control as a way to avoid speeding tickets, save on fuel, and ride more comfortably.

Increased Comfort

Driving long distances in a car that lacks cruise control requires the driver to keep a foot on the accelerator for many hours at a time. Eventually, this can lead to muscle aches and pain in the leg, especially for drivers with a prior injury or a chronic condition like arthritis. To prevent unnecessary strain, cruise control helps people avoid the discomfort associated with long drives. It does this by removing the need to keep a foot on the accelerator for long rides.

As long as the vehicle is travelling at least 25 to 30 miles per hour (depending on system parameters) and there is plenty of open road, cruise control frees up the driver, allowing him or her to bend and stretch the legs for a while. This minimum speed requirement prevents people from using cruise control in congested or slow-moving traffic.

Consistent Speed

Aside from increased driver comfort, cruise control also allows people to regulate their speed precisely and consistently. Not only does this cut down on expensive traffic tickets for habitual speeders, but it also helps to conserve fuel by forcing the car to maintain a reasonable and relatively constant speed over long distances. When drivers are in control of the accelerator, they tend to speed up and slow down continually in response to varying road condition. This cycle causes frequent braking to compensate for unnecessary or unintended acceleration, which can be a big waste of fuel. By cutting down on speeding and overuse of brakes, cruise control uses petrol or diesel more efficiently.

The Future of Cruise Control

In order to stay competitive in their industry, automotive designers and engineers are continuously working to improve vehicle amenities, thereby increasing the safety and comfort for drivers and their passengers. For instance, an innovation known as adaptive cruise control builds on the strengths of the original system while improving vehicle "intelligence" with the use of radar or laser technology. Vehicles with adaptive cruise control have a sensor in the front end that enables the cruise control to maintain a safe distance from the next vehicle by adjusting speed as needed.

Full speed-range autonomous systems are able to bring the vehicle to a complete stop to avoid an accident, and they can also resume travel after the car comes to a halt. Adaptive cruise control systems not only provide comfort and savings, but also predict and possibly prevent vehicle collisions. As this technology improves and becomes more affordable, it is likely to become a standard vehicle safety feature.

Shop for Cruise Control on eBay

If you are interested in finding a car with cruise control, eBay can help make your online shopping experience a pleasant one. There are plenty of ways to locate local vehicles for sale on eBay that fit your unique requirements. eBay is also a useful resource if you are looking to retrofit your car with a cruise control kit. This job is best left to people with extensive mechanical knowledge; however, if you do not fall into this category, you can still look for a deal on parts and then hire a mechanic to handle installation. Regardless of the type of item you hope to buy, remember to investigate seller feedback.

eBay Search Tips

Whether you are looking for a car with cruise control or cruise control parts, there are several ways to approach an eBay product search. By choosing keywords that fit your preferred method, it is easy to find relevant eBay product listings. For instance, try typing "cars cruise control" into the search box on the eBay home page to browse a vast array of suitable vehicles. Alternatively, narrow down your options more quickly by choosing keywords based on a specific make, such as "BMW cruise control".

Investigate eBay Seller Feedback

Seller feedback allows buyers to feel more confident about their online purchases. Before finalising a purchase transaction on eBay, take a few minutes to research the seller's reputation. You can learn a lot by checking out his or her Feedback profile. Be sure to look at Feedback scores and written reviews.

Conclusion

Because this feature is extremely beneficial to driver comfort and fuel consumption levels, people who frequently find themselves on long road trips are encouraged to investigate the pros and cons of cruise control. While some drivers are hesitant to give up control of vehicle acceleration, those who give it a chance generally find cruise control to be incredibly convenient and easy to use. Those who use their cruise control consistently are likely to enjoy reduced fuel consumption, and by staying safely below the speed limit, drivers are also less prone to receiving hefty speeding tickets.

While not suitable for city driving or narrow rural roads, the option to engage cruise control on a long trip often convinces buyers to spring for a new or used car with this feature. Available for automatic and manual transmissions, cruise control is found on a wide range of vehicles. Though it is not typically included on base models, people can opt for this feature when selecting vehicle amenities.

Those who do not wish to buy a brand new car can instead look for an older model that offers cruise control, or in some cases, they can retrofit a car that did not come with this feature factory-installed. By visiting eBay, interested buyers can search a large selection of vehicles with cruise control systems, as well as cruise control kits for retrofitting purposes.

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