Cruise control on steering wheel on car Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai Little can go wrong with the cruise control system other than jams caused by poor maintenance or driver error, an expert said.

His comments come after another driver faced a near death experience on Emirates road as his car’s cruise control malfunction. This is the sixth reported case of the cruise control jaming when the cars were on a high speed since February 2012.

The Emirati driver had set his car speed to 140km/hr when he was driving on Emirates road on Sunday, when his car refused to slow down when he pressed the brakes. He called the police and they sent various patrols to surround him and help clear the way for him, according to Arabic reports.

His ordeal was over some six hours later, reports said, when he lost control of his car and veered into a sandy area, where the car eventually stopped.

In light of the accident, Gulf News has spoken to experts about cruise control, how it works and what can go wrong.

Bill Carter, Head of Research and Valuations at AutoData, provider of vehicle identification and pricing information, said cruise control- put simply- “is a way to get a car to stay at a constant speed with having to touch the throttle.”

Cruise control is not a new invention, it has been around or over a 50 years at least. “It is very difficult to be sure when it was first used, but it has been around since the 1950s. There was a patent registered in about 1955 in USA.” Carter noted.

He added that “there is very little that can go wrong with the [cruise control]system. Most faults are cause by either incorrect maintenance or driver error. If there is a system fault the control will not usually switch on.”

However, there have been a number of cruise control malfunction incidents.

Rizwan Ali, Operations manager of Salim Ali Bin Haider Garage in Dubai, said Cruise control is very helpful for drivers who drive long distances.

He said that usually the malfunction occurs in the brake system. “Brake electronic errors are the most common issue, as the car does not deactivate the cruise control when the brakes are pushed like it should.”

Ali explained how the system works. When the cruise control button or lever is pushed it activates the throttle position sensor and makes the car run on the speed that it was pushed at. He added that the sensor keeps automatically updating the car with information, so that for instance it would maintain the same speed even if the car is going up a hill. The system also manages the gear shifting and every element in the car as to maintain the set speed.

There are principles to using cruise control, Ali said. “When using cruise control, the car should be on 2000 or 3000 rpm, the car should be running on the fifth or a high gear, and the car should be exceeding 100km/hr.”

Ali said that it is very important to get the cruise control system checked when going to service the car. “People should always look at their dashboard and ensure that the light for the cruise control function is working, and that it goes on and off.”

Carte also emphasised the importance of having the vehicles maintained and serviced by an authorised dealer. “These [cruise control] systems are controlled by computer and unless programmed using the correct software, can cause numerous problems. It just is not worth taking a chance.”