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Can You Brake With Cruise Control?

Can You Brake With Cruise Control?

When you are driving down a highway and have your vehicle set on cruise control, the last thing on your mind is applying the brakes.

Since you have activated the cruise control, is using your car’s brakes an option? 

What happens if you do use the brakes while using cruise control?

You can apply your car’s brakes when you are on cruise control without fear of damaging your car. However, once you manually apply your car’s brakes, your cruise control settings will be immediately deactivated. 

While initially, it may sound as if applying the brakes while your car is on cruise control could damage your car, the good news is that this is something you won’t have to worry about when on the road!

If you don’t want this to happen, you do have another option. Instead of applying your car’s brakes, we suggest you use your car’s decelerate button located on the cruise control panel. 

By doing this, you can keep your car in cruise control, rather than use the brakes and then have to reset your cruise control settings.

Should I Turn Off Cruise Control Before Hitting The Brakes?

Though it’s not usually done, using your brakes while on cruise control is perfectly okay, and will in no way damage your cruise control or other parts of your car.

If you do need to use the brakes when on cruise control, we recommend you give them a gentle tap, rather than a quick pressing that sends the brake pedal straight to the floor. 

Doing so lets you come to a more gradual stop, which is usually safer in most circumstances. 

Remember, the moment you apply the brakes manually, this shuts off your car’s cruise control system. 

Thus, when you want to get back up to cruising speed, you will need to once again set your cruise control settings to where they were previously. 

When your vehicle is in cruise control, the system itself is set up so that it has nothing to do with your car’s brakes. 

Instead, your cruise control system is tied into your car’s throttle.

If you are driving a manual transmission vehicle and have it set on cruise control, keep in mind that not only will applying the brakes deactivate your current settings, but so too will pressing in the clutch to change gears.

What Happens When You Use Brakes on Cruise Control?

When you use your brakes while having your car on cruise control, this automatically stops the current cruise control settings from working. 

However, no matter the type of vehicle you are driving, this disengagement of your cruise control system does not mean the system is connected in any way to your car’s braking system.

Instead, all cruise control systems are tied to a car’s acceleration system. 

On newer model vehicles, a small valve that is electronically-controlled monitors your car’s speed and adjusts accordingly to keep it within your cruise control parameters. 

On many newer vehicles, you can often find what is known as Adaptive Cruise Control, often referred to as ACC.

Unlike a traditional cruise control system that maintains whatever speed you set, the ACC instead adjusts your car’s speed based on conditions that may be ever-changing.

Using a series of sensors built into the car, the ACC can constantly monitor your surroundings while on the road, then use that data to continually adjust your brakes and acceleration accordingly.

Does Adaptive Cruise Control Use Brakes?

Yes, if your car is equipped with adaptive cruise control, this system will make use of your vehicle’s brakes to control your speed.

But while ACC does use your brakes to keep your speed in check, it has not been shown to wear out your brakes any quicker than when you manually apply the brakes during the course of your normal driving. 

Also, remember that whether you have an ACC or a traditional cruise control system, all of these systems are equipped with a switch that allows you to toggle back and forth between having your cruise control system off or on.

Thus, should you find yourself needing to slow down more than you anticipated, using this switch may help lessen any unnecessary use of your brakes.

Can Cruise Control Work on Winding Roads?

Though you will primarily use your car’s cruise control when on long, flat stretches of highway, it can also be used on roads that are winding and have varying undulations. 

However, we suggest you think long and hard about using your cruise control in these situations. 

Once you set your cruise control speed, the system will maintain that speed for your vehicle, regardless of the road conditions.

Should your vehicle be equipped with ACC, you may have an easier time using your cruise control in these situations, since the ACC does work in conjunction with your brakes to make adjustments along the way. 

Is ACC Better than Traditional Cruise Control?

On this question, most auto experts tend to think that Adaptive Cruise Control does offer more advantages than traditional cruise control systems.

Since an ACC can use its sensors to monitor the traffic around you, we tend to think it can help decrease the chances you will be involved in an accident.

Also, since the ACC can monitor your surroundings, this allows you to relax more when driving. 

In fact, once your ACC is set, you can basically sit back and enjoy the ride. 

While it is by no means autonomous driving, an ACC does give you tremendous peace of mind when behind the wheel.

Now that you know you can use your car’s brakes when on cruise control, you may find yourself even more tempted to use cruise control as much as possible.

After all, by doing so, you’ll save gas, have an easier drive, and know you are still in full control should you need to make a quick stop.

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!