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The reason for your cruise control not working could be as simple as a blown fuse to really complex electrical problems. Defective switches, sensors, and even “check engine” light, all could contribute to this problem.

If you like to travel and own a car fitted with cruise control, you know how comfortable it can be to maintain a constant speed! When a cruise control system gets damaged, it is just as annoying as it is dangerous.

Cruise control is connected with several components of the car, and when it fails it can mean that something could be wrong with the CC itself. It could also be a signal that something wrong is happening with any other component of the car.

Why is my cruise control not working?

In this article, I am going to show you the main reasons why your cruise control may not be working (from the simplest to the more complex ones):

Reason #1. Bad or blown fuse

The cruise control’s circuit (like many other electronic components of your car), is protected by a fuse that will blow to protect the system from short circuits and overloads. If your vehicle’s cruise control fuse is blown, the system will stop working.

You can replace the fuse with a new one of the correct amperage, according to your vehicle’s owner manual. If the new fuse doesn’t blow again, everything will be ok; if the fuse blows again, you have to keep searching for what is making that fuse blow.

Reason #2. Burnt brake lamp

Some cruise control systems are disabled when the brake lamp is blown. Check your brake lights. If you find a burnt brake light, just replace it and test the system again.

Reason #3. Defective brake light switch

A defective pedal switch can also make your cruise control stop working. Remember that all cruise control systems are automatically disengaged as soon as the brake pedal is pressed down.

If the cruise control didn’t stop working when a fault in the brake light or brake pedal switch is detected, it could be dangerous; that’s why the CC control unit constantly monitors the status of this switch.

Reason #4. Clutch pedal switch deactivation (for manual transmission vehicles)

Cruise control is deactivated when the clutch is pressed by the driver in manual transmission cars. The CC control unit monitors this switch as it does the brake light switch.

Reason #5. The vehicle speed sensor is not working

A vehicle’s cruise control needs to be able to determine the vehicle’s actual speed. This enables the system to determine how much throttle needs to be applied in order to keep a certain speed, among other things.

The speedometer speed sensor is not always the sensor used by the cruise control. Some systems rely on the ABS speed sensors, others do an average and some have a dedicated speed sensor.

If the system can’t detect the vehicle’s speed or detects a problem with the speed sensor, it will stop working.

Reason #6. Faulty throttle body or accelerator pedal

In modern engines, the throttle body is driven electronically by the engine control unit (ECU), and the accelerator pedal works like a potentiometer. The processor managing the cruise control system will act as the accelerator pedal, sending more or less voltage to the throttle body to open or close the throttle body’s butterfly valve.

If there is a problem with your vehicle’s throttle body, your cruise control won’t work.

Reason #7. Check Engine light is “ON”

If your vehicle instrument panel has the “Check Engine Light” ON and the fault stored in the ECU’s memory is related to some component vital for the cruise control system, you will not be able to use your cruise control until you have fixed that problem.

Reason #8. Faulty steering wheel’s spiral cable/clock spring

The spiral cable connects all the switches from the steering wheel (in case your steering wheel has switches) to their respective modules. This includes the connection of the driver’s airbag.

These wires (also called clock springs) are prone to get cut. A faulty spiral cable may have an open circuit making it unable to reach the vehicle’s cruise control module (CCM).

Reason #9. Bad Cruise Control Switch

Your vehicle’s cruise control switches have internal contacts that wear out. If that happens, the switches won’t be able to contact the CCM.

Depending on which buttons are faulty, your whole cruise control can stop working or just some functions won’t work.

Reason #10. Electrical problems with different modules and wiring

Modern cruise control systems use electrical and electronic components, and they are connected to other modules and systems of the vehicle. Some of these systems are the ECU, ABS, and/or Stability Control Systems like ESP.

The CCM makes a check of these systems once the key is switched to ON, and if some of these components are not working in optimal conditions, the CCM won’t engage. If none of the above items seem to be the problem, the vehicle needs to be taken to a professional who can perform a full scan of all the components, check that all the voltages, wiring harnesses, and connectors are ok.

The professional is going to detect if there are any connection problems between modules and will be able to find the reason why the cruise control is not working.

Reason #11. Dirty or faulty camera or sensor (only for vehicles fitted with adaptive cruise controls)

Newer vehicles have adaptive cruise control systems. These devices not only keep a fixed speed by the driver; they also can detect other vehicles ahead and behind and are able to keep a safe fixed distance to avoid collisions.

Some of these new systems have laser sensors while others have cameras to calculate the right distance to follow considering the vehicle’s speed and acceleration. Any problem with the sensors will prevent adaptive cruise control from working.

Feel free to save the infoPin below for your future Reference :

Problems with older cruise control systems.

Before electronic injection and electronic throttle bodies, some cars had the cruise control function. In fact, the first cruise controls were introduced in the early 1950s.

These electromechanical cruise controls are pretty simple. They have a vacuum actuator connected to the throttle linkage that opens and closes the throttle to maintain the vehicle’s speed.

In early injection cars, the throttle linkage was replaced by a cable. Some common faults of these old cruise control systems are:

  1. A faulty vacuum actuator. Vacuum actuators have a diaphragm inside that can break. Any vacuum leak will lead to failure.
  2. Faulty vacuum control solenoid. It can prevent the actuator from operating normally.
  3. Broken throttle cable. If the throttle cable or linkage is broken, it needs to be replaced.

I hope you enjoyed my guide to cruise control problems. Even though it doesn’t explain how to fix your cruise control, it gives you an idea of where to start looking if you are going to do it yourself.

Now you will have an idea about how the system works and what are the possible reasons why it’s failing (in case you have to take your vehicle to a shop to be repaired).

This article is for informational purposes ONLY and is NOT a replacement for professional advice!


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1 Comment

  1. bobby d ballard

    I always Kno and admit that even though I went to school for ABR grad. In 1994 3.36gpa still have go go back to school for upgrades due to vehicle advancement but I still learned alot although I am dealing with an 05 f150 stx which has more recalls then a auto parts store where the employees don’t know a inerta. Switch from an ignition switch ,thanks for the information

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