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Is It Safe to Drive with Cruise Control in the Rain?

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 Cruise control on your car is a convenient feature to have. It helps you drive down the highway without demanding much effort from the driver. But can you use it every time? Today we’ll see whether it is possible to drive with cruise control in the rain. 

Before getting to know the answer to this query, let’s understand what a cruise control system is. So, in simple words, cruise control functions in a manner analogous to that of a human driver. It enables you to cruise at a set speed without pushing the accelerator, making you relax on long journeys.  

How does a cruise control system work? 

Cruise control in older cars used a cable system with the cable connected to the accelerator to keep the gas pedal at a particular position based on the speed. However, newer cars employ an electronic system. The car’s computer takes care of the whole process, with inputs from radar sensors placed all over. These sensors identify the speed of your car from its driveshaft. 

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The newer technology, which goes by the name Adaptive Cruise Control, can also sense real-time conditions, adjust the speeds accordingly, and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of it. When the vehicle in front of you changes speed or moves to a different lane, the cruise control returns to its original setting. The cruise control system works the same way in the rain as well as on a normal day.

The sensors on a cruise control system are also programmed in a way that it detects if the driver has applied brakes. In such a scenario, the cruise control system disengages itself to avoid a conflict of signals, thereby paving the way for a mishap.  

Also read: Can You Jump a Car in the rain? How to Do It Safely

Is it okay to drive with cruise control on a rainy day? 

Though you can enable the cruise control feature in the rain just like you’d do on any day, and it’ll function just as normal, it is not advised to do so. 

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Why is it not recommended to activate cruise control in the rain? 

It is advised to drive without cruise control in the rain due to the phenomenon called aquaplaning or hydroplaning.

Aquaplaning or hydroplaning is a situation where water builds up between the treads of your tires, which leads to a slight lifting of the car from the ground. So, in this case, the vehicle will literally begin to slide over a layer of water, devoid of any frictional force, thereby making it uncontrollable.  


How are cruise control and aquaplaning related? 

As we’ve discussed above, modern cars have cruise control systems that detect their speed from the driveshaft. I.e., it can track tire revolutions. As the car begins aquaplaning, the tires begin to spin faster than normal. This tricks the cruise control into thinking the car is traveling faster than the preset speed, prompting it to back off the gas and slow the vehicle. 

This runs counter to the widely held belief that using cruise control in the rain while aquaplaning causes the vehicle to accelerate. 

When do cars aquaplane? 

Photo by Basil Minhaj on Unsplash

Aquaplaning happens mostly when the tires on your car have worn out beyond a certain extent. This can also occur if you drive too quickly through a puddle for the tread to drain the water. 

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When should you use it? 

Now that you know why you shouldn’t use cruise control in the rain, you may be wondering when it is safest to do so. We think it is better to use cruise control on straight roads in normal weather conditions.  

Also, driving a conventional cruise control-equipped car on the road with a decent amount of traffic can be dangerous as the system may not be able to sense it. Similarly, such cars may also not be able to sense corners and adjust speeds based on speed limits. However, all these can be addressed with the help of an adaptive cruise control-equipped car.  

So, make it a habit to turn it off whenever you notice that the conditions aren’t ideal. 

Is it dangerous to use cruise control on a rainy day? 

Definitely not. In fact, it is perfectly okay to let the cruise control system take over during light rains. However, if the water levels on the road are too good for the car to handle on its own, it’s better that you take the wheel. Using your logic is the key here.  

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