Adaptive Cruise Control: How Does It Work & Can You Trust It?

Believe it or not, the cruise control we know today was invented by a blind man. So, what is it? The standard cruise control is a system that allows the driver to set the car to maintain a fixed speed without the driver’s input. This is great for long road trips as it reduces fatigue.

Adaptive cruise control (ACC), on the other hand, is a more advanced cruise control. As the name suggests, adaptive cruise control adapts to the traffic environment around you. In addition to setting a fixed speed, adaptive cruise control allows you to set the distance to maintain from the car in front of you. It’s a lot smarter than standard cruise control because it even works during traffic jams. This means that the system will automatically stop the vehicle entirely when it is required to.

There are many different types of adaptive cruise controls (ACC) using different types of sensors, but the most common ones are radar-based and camera-based sensors. The radar-based sensors are usually positioned in front of the car, usually on a plastic slab. The camera-based sensors on the other hand, are positioned on the back of the vehicle’s rear-view mirror, behind the windshield.

Benefits of Adaptive Cruise Control

  • Reduce fatigue, especially during stop-and-go traffic conditions.
  • Improves comfort while driving.
  • Helps drivers to comply with the speed limit, especially on longer journeys.
  • Lowers the chances of collisions by controlling your speed and distance from the car in front of you.

How to Activate or Deactivate the System

The ACC system can be activated or deactivated by using the operational controls on the steering wheel. 

How to Set the Speed

You can set the speed using the +/- buttons or when you’re already at the desired speed, just press a button to set it at a fixed speed. Usually, the button has a speedometer icon or the “SET” wording or sometimes the “MAIN” wording. You can also consult your owner’s manual to learn more about the cruise control function of your car.

cruise control button with speedometer icon

Cruise control button with speedometer icon

cruise controle button with set wording

Cruise control button with “SET” wording

cruise control button with MAIN wording

Cruise control button with “MAIN” wording

How to Set the Distance

You can set the distance using the button that has a car and three bars icon. Each bar usually represents one car, so three bars represent three cars’ distance away from your car.

Understand the Limitations of the Feature

Do note that adaptive cruise control (ACC) has its limitations because it cannot cover all driving situations. Here are a few limitations to keep in mind.

  • ACC may not assist in close cut-in scenarios.
  • ACC does not detect people or animals. 
  • ACC does not operate properly if the sensors are hindered by dirt, fog, stickers, etc.
  • ACC does not operate properly if the sensors are damaged due to a collision.
  • ACC does not operate properly on steep downhill roads or curved roads.
  • ACC is not a collision-avoidance system; it cannot brake for you if the system doesn’t detect the car in front that suddenly brakes.

When Is It Safe to Activate?

  • During long journeys like taking a road trip outstation.
  • When you are certain that there is a long stretch of a straight road.
  • When your tires are balanced and aligned correctly.
  • When your tires have the recommended air pressure.
  • When the sensors are not hindered by dirt, fog, stickers, etc.
  • When the sensors are not damaged.
  • When there is stop-and-go traffic.

When Is It Not Safe to Activate?

  • Poor visibility caused by heavy rain
  • Repeated curved roads
  • Repeated steep roads
  • Misalignment of tires
  • Insufficient tire air pressure
  • On slippery roads where human intervention may be required if the car loses control or in any other demanding driving conditions.

Read More: The Importance of Car Tires

Here Are a Few Examples of Cars with Adaptive Cruise Control Available on CARSOME

Check out our CARSOME Certified Cars with cruise control here.

Adaptive Cruise Control Should Not Be Mistaken for Autopilot

Despite the benefits of adaptive cruise control (ACC), it is recommended to always keep your eyes on the road as the unexpected can always happen. Although ACC can adapt to the traffic environment, it is not a self-driving vehicle and merely acts as a driver’s assistant.

Buy CARSOME Certified for Peace of Mind

Here at CARSOME, we believe in creating an end-to-end buying journey to eliminate the concerns of a traditional used car buying experience. CARSOME Certified is the new standard of buying pre-owned cars backed up by our 175-point inspection together with our CARSOME Certified Refurbishment Process. By creating a trusted used car ecosystem, CARSOME Certified guarantees trust, transparency, and choice.

Check out our CARSOME Certified Cars here.