Driving in the rain with cruise control on

I recently received an email warning against it, as being very dangerous. The theory is that with CC on, hydroplaning will cause acceleration.

Is this, as I suspect, an urban legend, or is it true? I had never heard it before.

We had a previous post on this, and most responded that it was not a good idea. In my opinion and experience, it is dangerous and foolish. Cruise control is insenstive and basically wants to keep the car going no matter which direction it points and what the relative speed of the driving wheels is.

I had a real scare one time driving on a “dry” road in the winter at night and hit a piece of black ice. The car immediately went into a skid which I had some difficulty controlloing during the moment before touching the brakes to disengage the cruise. You will have the same panic situation if you hit a puddle and your car starts moving sidways.

In other words; DON’T DO IT!!!

We recently had a previous post on this matter. Most responders agreed it could lead to trouble if there were flooding or major puddles on the road, but shrugged and admitted they used CC anyway in modest rain and wetness. That is indeed my habit and I never had a bit of trouble.

I’ve gotten similar email. There is some truth to it but it exaggerates the situation.

I agree with Doc. Emphatically.

The theory that hydroplaning will cause acceleration comes from the idea that the wheel that hits the puddle will be slowed from the sudden resistance and loss of traction, the vehicle speed sensor will send a “car decelerating” signal, and the cruise control will trigger an “accelerate” signal. While I’ve not personally had this happen in practice, I believe it’s far safer to keep “hands on” control of the car, in sketchy traction situations.


It is not a good idea to use Cruise Control in rainy, snowy, icy, or congested traffic conditions, as your Owner’s Manual likely points out. That being said, the e-mail warning that I have seen includes the bogus statement that the car “will become airborne”. While it is not appropriate to use Cruise Control under the aforementioned conditions, it is also unlikely that it will imitate a 727.

According to snopes.com it is not an urban legend. Please see http://www.snopes.com/autos/techno/wetroad.asp for proof.

Actually, cruse control should not be used in any low traction conditions, including rain, snow, ice, etc.

Jeremy, the story in that link is the very same bogus report that has given rise to all of the chain email about the hazards of CC in wet weather. It is as believable as the similar tale of the Arizona fellow who attached a JATO rocket to his Impala.

I am NOT saying it is safe to use CC in wet weather. I am simply pointing out that the tales in snopes.com are as real as the testimonials for miracle fuel economy products.

Not totally an urban legend. There is some truth in it and you certainly should not use CC on ice or snow. It the rain is heavy, I don’t have cruse on. Not only is there an increased chance of hydroplaning, but I want more hands on control of my car in the rain. I have hydroplaned a few times and it is not fun. I never had an accident, but I suspect that is in part due to my hands on driving style in heavy rain.

Please read where it says “Although these accounts are probably ‘real’ in the sense that they indeed reflect someone’s attempt to describe an automotive mishap that actually happened to him, the explanation about a hydroplaning car’s suddenly accelerating and ‘taking off like a rocket’ due to the use of cruse control is a garbled one probably reflecting the author’s misunderstanding of what occurred.” The site also states that “Nonetheless, the warning inherent to the tale – don’t engage your vehicle’s cruise control on slippery or wet roads – is well worth heeding.” Hence the “true” status of the myth.

It is not urban legend. Ask your State Police about it.

Most times, if you use a little common sense, you can do things without getting hurt. A lot of people like to cruise way too fast on roads that they have never been on. People get in trouble all the time without it. Guy had a GTO and was country roading it at 70 when he saw the dead end sign. 150 feet later, he was in the trees and mud. Oh yes, it was really dark. Go around a tight curve at 40 MPH in the rain and after you spin out you will know whether it was slick or not. Motorcycles in coated parking lots… If your car handles well in the rain and you are on known roads and you are off the cell phone, you will probably make it. You have to know what you are doing and hope that the cruise control unit doesn’t malfunction. There’s always a chance for disaster. Feel lucky?

And READ YOUR OWNERS MANUAL!!! oh yeah, and I should add: DON"T USE CC IN CONSTRUCION ZONES!!! thanks, I feel better now.

My Toyota manual says the following:

“To help maintain maximum control of your vehicle, do not use the cruise control when driving in heavy or varying traffic, or on slippery (rainy, icy or snow-covered) or winding roads.” Toyota considers rainy roads slippery.

The main reasons for this warning are Toyota’s experience and the possible legal liability if the owner does something foolish. Some of you will recall the Darwin Award movie where a rich European woman put her motor home on cruise and went back to get a sandwich from the fridge. Sadly, this is a true story!