Cruise control


My mom just forwarded an e-mail, that originated from my mother-in-law, warning that using the cruise control in the rain can cause a car to fly off the road like an airplane. Truth, or just mothers believing everything they read online?


No, this is not an urban legend. Cruise control should never be used in conditions of poor traction, including when it is raining. Cruise control also should not be used if traffic is even somewhat congested.

How would one verify this information? Simply open your glove compartment and take out your Owner’s Manual. This information should be covered in detail in that little book.

Even if you have never previously looked at your Owner’s Manual, this is just a small sample of the useful information that it contains regarding the safe and economical operation of your car. I strongly suggest that you read this booklet!


Cars do not jump into the air and fly like airplanes, cruise control or not. That part is false.

It is true, however, that using cruise control during inclement weather can lead to problems. If the tires lose traction due to hydroplaning the cruise control may try to ACCELERATE, which is exactly the opposite of what you want to do.

Cruise control is meant to be used on clear, dry, open roads in light traffic conditions. Period.


I have received the same email over the years. It is part truth and part mothers believing everything they read. Did you also get the one about muggers hiding under the car to grab unsuspecting women by their ankles?

The true part is that cruise control ought not to be used when road conditions are very bad. We’re talking about heavy downpours or puddles of standing water. But no, even in the worst of cases your car will not soar like an aircraft.


Cruise control or not. Any driver is responsible for handling their car according to the driving conditions.

Anyone should know that cruise control does not give you the necessary control under certain driving conditions.


I’m sorry, but there is no way the cruise control is going to try to accelerate if it’s hydroplaning. The cruise control measures the output speed of the transmission, so it will only turn at whatever speed is set. If the wheels are spinning or slipping the cruise control had no way to know that and will keep the transmission going at the same speed.


Sigh, I was going to edit my note above, but hit submit. When are they going to give use and edit feature.

Anyway, I do agree using cruise in the rain is a bad idea. No, it’s not going to accelerate when you hit a puddle or something.


What I neglected to add was that the “flying” part is, indeed, fiction. However, as I and all of the others stated, despite that fictional detail, using cruise control on a wet or icy surface is a sure way to invite an accident due to loss of control.


It sounds like fun. I am going to give it a try!