Why the extra on-off button on cruise control?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

Why does cruise control have an extra "on-off" button on the dash? Is there any damage caused by leaving that switch on all the time and using the switch on the stalk to turn the cruise on and off?

RAY: The extra on-off button is a safety feature, Tony. When cruise control first came out, there was only one switch, usually on the stalk next to the steering wheel. And some unfortunate drivers discovered just how easy it was to turn the cruise control on by accident. You could always identify them...they were the ones speeding toward stopped traffic with terrified looks on their faces.

TOM: So the second switch is there to prevent you from engaging the cruise control by accident. The idea is that you would turn on the "main" (dashboard) switch when you're planning to use cruise control (like when you get on the highway), and then use stalk switch to operate it (turn it on, off, up and down) as you negotiate through traffic.

RAY: All late model cars automatically turn off the "main" switch every time you shut off the car. But you won't damage the cruise control if you leave it on all day while you're driving.

TOM: Just remember that it's on, so if you suddenly find yourself on "automatic pilot," you'll know why! 1268

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