When you think about times when you use your vehicle’s cruise control, most likely your thoughts turn to long drives on highways or interstates that have little traffic congestion and allow you to set your cruise control at a higher rate of speed.
However, what about using cruise control at low speeds? Can you do it, and will it be bad for your vehicle?
It is generally not recommended to use cruise control under a speed of 25 miles per hour as the need for this lower pace indicates a higher potential for the need to stop quickly. Slower speeds often indicate pedestrian crossings, proximity to a school, or heavily trafficked areas.
Keep reading to learn more about the specifics of using cruise control at low speeds.
Why Should I Use Cruise Control At Low Speeds?
When auto manufacturers first designed cruise control and began placing this feature in their vehicles, it was named cruise control for a reason!
Thus, cruise control, even adaptive cruise control, is generally not recommended for use at low speeds for a variety of reasons.
When you are driving in high-traffic conditions, you usually need to have much better control of your vehicle, since this will allow you to make quick stops, navigate turns, and so forth.
If you are driving in these conditions and have your cruise control in charge of your vehicle, this eliminates your ability to make quick decisions while behind the wheel.
After all, by the time you deactivate your cruise control in a high-traffic situation, chances are you will have already been involved in an accident.
Should you be driving in conditions that warrant you go at low speeds, such as when roads are slick from rain, snow, or ice, we also suggest you not rely on your cruise control.
If you don’t heed our advice, you could find yourself hydroplaning on a rain-soaked road, slipping and sliding on snow and ice, or facing other dangerous conditions behind the wheel.
Just as with high-traffic situations, you won’t have time to deactivate your cruise control and regain control over your vehicle before you likely suffer an accident.
What is the Lowest Speed to Use Cruise Control?
If you want to use your cruise control at a lower speed, most auto experts we know suggest you do so only when your vehicle will be traveling at a minimum speed of 25 miles per hour, and even this is iffy at best.
When you are driving at such low speeds, this usually means you are driving in dangerous conditions, or are in a high-traffic situation where you will encounter congestion around every turn.
If this is the case, you will need to have complete control of your vehicle in order to make sharp turns, hit the brakes for quick stops, and make steering maneuvers should a driver around you do something unusual.
Though stop-and-go driving is known to decrease fuel efficiency, trying to use your cruise control under these conditions won’t work as you may hope.
Even though your engine and transmission won’t suffer any additional strain, trying to use cruise control at such low speeds will decrease your fuel efficiency, so keep this in mind.
Does Cruise Control Only Work at Certain Speeds?
On virtually all vehicles, you will find cruise control won’t work at speeds under 25 miles per hour.
As to why this is, it has to do with vehicle speed sensors.
Found in most newer vehicles, these sensors transmit your car’s speed to the engine control unit as well as your cruise control.
If your vehicle is going less than 25 miles per hour, your cruise control unit most likely will not recognize this as being fast enough to activate.
When you are operating at low speeds less than 25 miles per hour, your cruise control will measure your current speed against a set speed within the system.
After doing so, your cruise control is designed to either increase or decrease the throttle needed to maintain your speed.
By traveling at such a slow speed, this is no longer possible, meaning your cruise control won’t work under these conditions.
Is It Okay to Use Cruise Control All the Time?
While it sounds as if it will make your driving very easy by using cruise control all the time, the fact is it is not okay to use your vehicle’s cruise control all the time.
As you know by now, your vehicle’s cruise control is not meant to be used at speeds less than 25 miles per hour, and even that speed is considered too low by many auto experts.
Remember, when you set your vehicle’s cruise control, you are essentially giving up control of your vehicle.
While this is usually fine if you are on a lonely stretch of highway, it can be very hazardous when you are in a high-traffic situation.
Rather than risk being involved in an accident because you were using your cruise control in a way for which it was not intended, it is best if you follow the recommendations in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
Will Cruise Control Damage the Engine?
When you use your cruise control as it is intended, it will not damage your engine.
In any basic cruise control system, hitting the “reduce speed” button on your steering wheel will be the same as if you were easing your foot off the accelerator.
When Should Cruise Control be Used?
To keep yourself and other drivers around you as safe as possible, we recommend you only use cruise control when you are on a stretch of road where the speed limit is relatively high and stays that way for many, many miles.
However, when you reach a stretch of road where the speed limit lowers, make it a point to turn off your cruise control as quickly as possible.
If you don’t, your vehicle will continue at the higher speed, which could put you at risk of an accident, or at the least being ticketed by police.
While there’s no doubt using your cruise control can make driving on a long stretch of road very easy, it’s also important to remember that cruise control only works best under certain conditions.
By using your good judgment and common sense while driving, chances are you will know when it’s the right time to use your cruise control.