When your cruise control stops working, it can be quite an inconvenience. In this expert guide, we’ll talk about the most common reasons it can fail.
If you’re old enough, you can probably remember driving on road trips, or even just on your daily commute to work, before cruise control was a thing. It can be downright exhausting.
Unfortunately, even modern-day cars can have a failing cruise control system and it can seem like you’ve been thrown back into the stone ages.
Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but it really can be annoying when cruise control stops working. But why does that happen?
The most common reasons that your cruise control might stop working include a bad cruise control switch, a blown fuse or relay, problems with the engine or transmission, a faulty vehicle speed sensor, a bad brake pedal switch, or a broken cruise control cable.
If your car’s cruise control isn’t working, it can be a major pain.
What do you do if your cruise control stops working? Here are some of the most common reasons why it might not be working, and how to fix it!
To fully understand why cruise control stops working on a car, we researched the most common reasons so that you know exactly what’s wrong with it.
Since we’ve already done the research for you, all you need to do is run through the list of common reasons below and you’ll be able to get your cruise control figured out in no time.
How Does Cruise Control Work?
Before we get into the reasons that cruise control might not be working in your car, it’s important that we first explain how the cruise control system works in the first place.
By understanding how cruise control works and what components are involved, you’ll have a much better understanding of why the issues below can prevent cruise control from working.
So, how does cruise control work?
The cruise control system in your car is made up of a few different parts. There’s a cruise control switch, which is usually located on the steering wheel, that turns the system on and off.
There are also fuses and relays that power the system, and a speed sensor that tells the system how fast the car is going. These sensors report back to the cruise control module, which controls a cruise control servo.
This servo is what actually controls the throttle of your car, and it’s what tells the car to speed up or slow down to maintain the cruise control speed.
Finally, there’s a brake pedal switch that tells the system when you’re braking and a cruise control cable that connects the accelerator pedal to the cruise control system.
All of these parts and pieces work together to enable your car to maintain a set speed without you having to constantly adjust the accelerator.
Now that we know how the cruise control system works, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why it might not be working in your car.
Most Common Reasons That Cruise Control Isn’t Working
1. Bad Cruise Control Switch
One of the first things to check if your cruise control isn’t working is the switch. This is usually located on the steering wheel or stalk. If it’s a bad switch, then it might need to be replaced.
This is usually pretty easy to check because you can just try to turn the system on and see if it engages.
In most cars, a light will illuminate somewhere on your dash (or on the button itself) once you press the switch to turn on cruise control.
So if you hit the button or switch but you don’t see a light illuminate anywhere, it could be an indication that the button or switch itself is bad. But that’s not the only reason you might not see the light turn on.
2. Blown Fuse or Relay
Another pretty common reason that cruise control might not be working is because of a blown fuse or relay.
These are usually located in the fuse box under the hood. If you think this might be the case, then you can just check the fuse box to see if there’s a blown fuse or relay.
If you don’t see a blown fuse or relay, it could still be the problem. Sometimes the fuse or relay might not look blown but could still be bad.
In this case, you might need to use a multimeter to test the fuse or relay to see if it’s still good. Typically, a relay will audibly “click” when it’s activated, so if you don’t hear the clicking noise, the cruise control relay might be bad.
3. Engine or Transmission Problems (Check Engine Light)
If the cruise control system is engaged but the car doesn’t seem to be responding, it could be because of engine or transmission problems.
These types of problems can be pretty serious, so it’s definitely something you’ll want to get checked out by an experienced mechanic or technician. Often, this will be accompanied by your check engine light turning on.
Furthermore, sometimes the cruise control system won’t even engage if there are overarching issues with the engine or transmission that would prevent it from working.
This is more commonly seen in newer cars where the electronics and computer system are so advanced and integrated that it will prevent you from using cruise until you fix the underlying issues.
4. Faulty Vehicle Speed Sensor
One of the most common reasons that cruise control might not be working is because of a faulty vehicle speed sensor. This is the sensor that tells the cruise control system how fast you’re going.
If it’s not working correctly, then the cruise control system won’t be able to maintain the correct speed.
In most cases, a faulty speed sensor will need to be replaced. However, sometimes you can clean the sensor and fix the problem. This is usually pretty easy to do and you can find instructions online or in your car’s owner’s manual.
You usually have to jack your car up and remove the wheel to get to the sensor, so make sure you’re being careful and following the owner’s manual!
5. Bad Brake Pedal Switch
Another common reason for cruise control not working is a bad brake pedal switch. This switch is located on the brake pedal itself and tells the cruise control system when you’re pressing the brakes.
If it’s not working correctly, then the cruise control system won’t know when you’re trying to stop and it could cause some serious accidents.
In most cases, you’ll need to replace the switch if it’s not working correctly. However, if you’re lucky, you might be able to clean it and get it working again.
Sometimes it can even just come unplugged and all you need to do is plug it back in. Either way, this is a pretty easy fix that you should be able to do on your own.
6. Broken Cruise Control Cable
Last up on our list of the most common reasons cruise control might not be working is a broken cruise control cable. This is the cable that runs from the cruise control module to the throttle body.
If it’s broken, then the cruise control system won’t be able to tell how much gas to give the engine and it won’t work correctly.
The vast majority of the time, you need to replace the cruise control cable if it’s broken. However, sometimes it might have just come loose or come off the track at the throttle body and you just need to reattach it correctly.
This cable has to have the correct amount of tension in order to operate properly, so you might want to leave this one up to the professionals if you aren’t confident about it!
How Hard is it to Fix Cruise Control on Your Car?
Now that you know why your cruise control might not be working, you’re probably wondering if it’s something you can handle on your own. That really depends on what the problem is.
As you can see from the list above, some of the issues are pretty easy to fix, like a blown fuse or bad brake pedal switch, while others are pretty difficult, like engine or transmission problems.
If you’re having trouble with your cruise control, the best thing to do is take it to a qualified mechanic or technician and have them diagnose the problem.
They’ll be able to tell you exactly what’s wrong and how difficult (and expensive) it will be to fix. Most of the issues with cruise control are fairly simple and inexpensive, and the convenience of the feature usually makes the repair worth it!
Conclusion on Common Issues For Cruise Control
There are a few different reasons why cruise control might not be working in your car anymore, including a broken switch, a blown fuse or relay, or faulty speed sensors.
Whatever the problem may be, figuring it out is the first step so you can go back to cruising on the roads without a problem.
We hope this article helped shed some light on why cruise control might not be working in your car.
Be sure to take it to a professional if you’re having any trouble so they can help you get back on the road safely!