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

Using cruise control will help your long road trip tremendously. But it can lead to costly repairs if it breaks, so what can make a cruise control stop working? Let's find out!

Cruise Control 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. Let’s take a quick look at the reasons first.

Causes of Cruise Control Stopped Working

The most common reason why a cruise control stops working is due to a blown fuse or a defective brake pedal switch. It can also be caused by issues with the throttle control system or the ABS. In older cruise control systems it can be caused by a broken vacuum line.

Here is a more detailed list of the possible causes a cruise control is not 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.

Cruise Control FAQs

Is there a fuse for the cruise control?

Yes, if the cruise control is installed from the factory, you should check your car’s owner’s manual for the fuse location. If it’s an aftermarket cruise control, you’ll need to follow the wires to find the fuse.

Does the brake switch affect the cruise control system?

Yes, the brake switch affects the cruise control system. The brake switch sends a signal to the cruise control system to let it know when the brakes are being applied for the engine to know when it should stop accelerating.

Will the cruise control work if the check engine light is on?

The cruise control function will be disabled when the check engine light is on in most car models, even if the cause of the check engine light is not the cruise control itself. This is mainly due to safety reasons.

Can a vacuum leak affect cruise control?

Older vehicles use vacuum to control the throttle for the cruise control, and in this case a vacuum leak can heavily affect the cruise control. However, modern cruise controls are fully electric and in most cases will not be affected by a vacuum leak if the check engine light is not illuminated.

Conclusion: Cruise Control Not Working

Although many people may think that the cruise control system is unimportant and not worth spending money to repair, the problem can be caused by a faulty part that will affect the engine’s performance or durability. Therefore, it is best not to ignore the problem if your cruise control is not working without first diagnosing the car properly.

The most common reasons a cruise control is not working include:

  • Blown Fuse
  • Defective Brake Pedal Switch
  • Malfunctioning ABS Speed Sensor
  • Electrical Issues
  • Damaged Vacuum Actuator, Hoses or Cable (Older cruise control)

If your cruise control still isn’t working after trying all these tips in this article, it’s probably time to take it in for a professional opinion from a mechanic. It may be a more serious problem that requires replacement parts or repairs. In the meantime, drive safe and enjoy the open road!

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Magnus Sellén
Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of Mechanicbase. He has been working as a car mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced car diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.