The usefulness of the cruise control mechanism in saving gas has been under debate for long. Some believe that it does help in cutting down gas expenses, while some say that though it can make long journeys pretty comfortable, it doesn't do much for the mileage. So can cruise control really save gas?
Did You Know?
Ralph Teetor, the inventor of the modern-day cruise control, was a blind man. He created the device in 1945, but it was only made commercially available in 1958.
Most drivers avoid using cruise control because they feel that the car no longer remains in their control. However, those who are comfortable with its mechanism can't imagine long journeys without it. With gas prices on the rise, and consumers looking to try out any way that can help them save some money, using cruise control seems a viable option.
The technology of a centrifugal governor (regulator) with speed control was developed by James Watt and Matthew Boulton in 1788 to control steam engines. One of its earliest users was the automobile giant Peerless, who advertised that their cars would now 'Maintain Speed Whether Uphill or Down'.
The modern-day cruise control was invented by Ralph Teetor. He conceived this idea out of frustration after being driven in a car by his lawyer, who kept changing the speed as he talked.
Does Cruise Control Help Save Gas?
Yes, by using the cruise control function consumers can save a significant amount of gas. It helps the car maintain a steady speed which directly improves its fuel economy, and also helps avoid speeding fines.
The best time to use cruise control is when the car is moving at a steady speed of at least 30 mph without frequent stopping. Hence, the system is best suited for open city and highway driving.
Driving a car with cruise control on the highway has quite a positive impact on its mileage. A test conducted by Edmunds.com proves that the Land Rover LR3 set on cruise control at 70 miles per hour was able to achieve 14% better mileage.
Although different car manufacturers provide a different layout for cruise control systems, most of them are situated on or behind the steering wheel. The driver can easily operate the controls through the 'Set', 'Cancel', 'Resume' and 'On/Off' buttons.
To start the system it is essential that the speed of the car be more than 30 mph. After gaining the required speed, press 'Set'. This puts the car in the cruise mode, and will maintain the current speed, even if the foot is not on the accelerator.
Cruise control can be turned off by gently applying the brakes, or pressing the 'Cancel' or 'On/Off' buttons. Most systems allow the driver to return to the initial programmed speed by pressing the 'Resume' button.
Using cruise control seems like a practical choice, but it does have its limitations? Consumers should never engage cruise control when driving uphill or on wet and slippery roads, as it can cause the car to skid with the driver not being able to turn off the cruise mode fast enough.
As they require no attention from the driver, these systems are known to encourage highway hypnosis (an illusion in which the road moves while the car is stationary), and drivers who get too comfortable behind the wheel are highly vulnerable to bang into other cars or drive off cliffs.
The automobile industry at present is buzzing with the new Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system that uses forward looking radar to detect the speed and distance of the vehicle ahead of it.
Its basic functioning of maintaining a preset speed is similar to that of the traditional cruise control system. However, ACC can help alter the speed in order to maintain a safe distance between vehicles in the same lane. It also slows down the car if it detects any obstruction on the road.
In addition to cruise control systems, keeping the tires inflated, checking the alignment, regular servicing of the engines, smooth driving, and avoiding engine idling are some of the most recommended ways that help save gas.