Cruise control horror stories

Does anyone know of a documented failure of a cruise control. Several weeks ago I was driving on a hilly narrow road–not the type one would use cruise control. I had three episodes of surging with the gas peddle dropping away from my foot. At the time I convinced myself that I must have hit the “on” control with my left thumb, by accident. A day or so ago I was thinking about the episode and realized I would have had to make TWO such errors. I neded to select “on” with my left thumb, and then the “set” with my right thumb. I doubt if I really did both steps accidentally. Now I wonder if the cruise control went haywire. It behaved perfectly a few days later on a 650 mile trip. Any thoughts?

year , make , model,engine size,please

'02 Ford Focus Wagon. Small engine. Standard shift. 78000 miles.

Does it have an after market cruse control or original equipment?


It happens. You have to understand what’s happening to appreciate the possibility of a problem, IMO. I installed an after market set-up in a Suzuki Samurai I had once and never had a problem with it. Basically . . the set-up is some metering device to measure how fast you are going (on the Suzuki it was a series of magnets which I super glued to the driveshaft). The “speed” is sent to a computer which is also connected to a small motor, vacuum or electric. The motor is connected to the throttle, and simply “pulls” the throttle cable to increase speed or releases it to allow you to slow down, all controlled by the computer. The whole device is actuated by a switch set-up which installed (for me) on either the turn signal shaft or wiper shaft on the steering wheel. Now . . . to your question . . . I have had cruise control fail on two other vehicles . . . one was a rental while in Orlando . . . aFord Focus, the other was a SAAB which I owned. On the SAAB the cruise pulled the throtle cable while in neutral (a 4-speed 1978 99 EMS) and the engine raced for a second until I turned off the key. The Focus did the same thing but was an automatic and I didn’t notice it until I tried to stop, the car kept pushing the throttle. Neither resulted in any further problem, neither I nor a SAAB tech could figure it out, and although I reported the problem to the rental agency at Orlando, I never heard any more of it. You have to remember that this device is man-made and can malfunction just like any other part on the car, so respect it. Rocketman

You may want a mechanic to look at it. If this happens when it is raining you could lose control. Since you can’t predict when it will happen, it could occur while you are on the highway, with tragic consequences. It is intermittent and they probably won’t be able to locate the problem. You might consider replacing parts if you are concerned about recurrence. Have them check the electrical connections to make sure that none are loose or corroded.

This has happened to me a couple of times but in each case the explanation was clear enough. I had previously used the cc but at a lower speed, then used my foot to accelerate and cruise at a higher speed. When I eventually let up on the gas pedal to coast, my speed dropped to the cc’s last setting and it kicked in unexpectedly. Clearly this was not a malfunction. I can’t help wondering if your situation was similar.

It would be pointless going to a mechanic. He would not be able be able to duplicate in the shop the condition you described and could only come back and tell you everything is working fine. (“Here’s your bill, ma’am.”)

My advice? Do nothing. The situation may never happen again. If it does, a tap on the brake pedal ends the cc’s adventure and you can later consider replacing the switches.