Cruise Control Not Working? (Here’s How to Fix it)

cruise control is not working

It would be difficult to find a vehicle on the road today without cruise control. This invaluable feature makes driving long distances easier but can also cause trouble when it malfunctions. Understanding the reasons your cruise control stopped working ensures that you can get the problem fixed quickly for a more enjoyable ride. 

While this fault can cause issues with the cruise control system itself, there could also be an effect on the acceleration of your vehicle. That’s why you want to have it looked at as soon as you notice a problem. 

Causes of Cruise Control Stopped Working

1. Blown Fuse

broken fuse

All electrical systems in the vehicle are controlled by fuses. Your cruise control system is attached to a fuse that can blow if there is a short circuit or fault. Without a good fuse, the cruise control system can’t work at all.

Thankfully, it’s not difficult to find and replace a blown fuse. Look in the owner’s manual to find the fuse that corresponds with the cruise control technology. 

2. Defective Brake Pedal Switch

push brake pedal

The brake pedal switch is responsible for turning the brake lights on and off based on the pedal position. Cruise control systems are designed to disengage whenever your brake pedal gets pressed. 

Because the cruise control is wired into the brake pedal switch, any fault can cause it to stop working. When the brake pedal switch malfunctions, the car believes the brakes are engaged, causing the system to turn off automatically. Not only that but your car’s brake light might also be stuck on, leaving confused drivers in your wake. 

3. Malfunctioning Speed Sensor

abs sensor close

Speed sensors are located on every wheel or differential. The purpose of these sensors is to monitor the speed of the wheels to determine if traction control is needed. 

The speed sensors are also part of the cruise control system. When a sensor fails, the cruise control can stop working and the speedometer might act strange as well. 

If there is an issue with a speed sensor, it will often show with an ABS warning light or a check engine light on the dashboard.

RELATED: 3 Symptoms of a Bad ABS Wheel Speed Sensor

4. Electrical Issues

cruise control buttons

The cruise control system is electronic, with many components working together to make the system operate. If the cruise control fails to work, you want to check the wiring harness and associated connectors for a fault.

You also need to ensure that the voltage source is supplying enough power to the system. Even the smallest fault can cause defects with the cruise control. In many cases, there can be an issue with the cruise control lever or buttons causing the cruise control to not engaging.

If your cruise control buttons are located on the steering wheel it could also be caused by a bad clock spring which is located behind the steering wheel.

Check the system with an OBD2 scanner to look for any trouble codes related to the cruise control.

RELATED: 5 Symptoms of a Broken Clock Spring, Location & Replacement Cost

5. Damaged Vacuum Actuator, Hoses or Cable (Older cruise control)

If you drive an older vehicle with cruise control, you might have an issue with the vacuum actuator or the cable that connects to the throttle. If there has been damage done to vacuum hoses or the actuator, the cruise control will stop working altogether.

Additionally, the cable linking the actuator to the throttle must be in good shape. If it has been broken, the cruise control will fail. 

What is Cruise Control?

Cruise control was first introduced for automobiles in the 1950s. However, it took many years before it became a staple in the modern vehicle. Cruise control is a feature that is used when you are traveling at a consistent speed. 

This electrical system allows you to set a predetermined speed and take your foot off of the gas pedal. If you are on a long drive, there is less fatigue because you don’t have to try to maintain your speed. Cruise control can also benefit fuel economy because the vehicle uses less fuel when traveling steadily. 

In newer cars, you might be able to find adaptive cruise control, which is a smart technology. Adaptive cruise control allows you to travel at a predetermined speed, but it also helps to maintain a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you with the help of sensors. With conventional cruise control, you need to take over when the car in front of you slows down, but that’s not the case with adaptive cruise control. 

Cruise Control Repair Cost

The cost to repair your cruise control system depends on what caused it to fail. If you need to replace a cruise control or brake switch, you might spend between $125 and $350, including parts and labor. However, the cost to change a fuse is only a few dollars and you can perform the replacement yourself in just a matter of seconds. 

On the other hand, when something major fails, such as the actuator, you could be looking at a much higher repair bill. In some vehicles, the cost to replace a cruise control actuator can cost more than $700. These costs rise if you drive a luxury vehicle or one that is difficult to get parts for. 

It might not seem immediately important for you to fix the broken cruise control, but this defective system can affect other performance aspects. You could start to notice issues with acceleration or have trouble with the speedometer. To play it safe, it’s always best to have the cruise control repaired as soon as you notice a problem.

Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. He has also been a motorsport (drifting) driver for over 5 years.