Retrofitting cruise control – a daring project!

Upgrade of cruise control - a daring project!

Cruise control is a handy feature for maintaining steady speed, which is convenient when driving longer distances. Cars with manual transmission can be equipped with cruise control, although the module displays its full performance spectrum in cars with automatic transmission. Generally, modern cars are equipped with an option for cruise control installation. If so, retrofitting cruise control is possible.

Relaxed driving with cruise control

what does cruise controlRetrofitting cruise control is no project for beginners!
It requires plenty of concentration and skill, particularly with regard to the installation of wiring. Otherwise, the car could sustain serious damage. If you are not familiar with steps such as insulation and fitting data cables with plugs, these steps should be practiced. For this purpose, the cable harness of a scrapped car comes in handy. Tools and cable shoes are quite cheap and therefore the required steps should be practiced until installation of new wiring of your car no longer poses any problem.

Is the car suitable?

Three factors are decisive in determining if retrofitting cruise control makes sense:

1. The car has automatic transmission.
2. The car has an electronic accelerator.
3. Retrofitting cruise control is offered as an option for the car.

cruise control versionsIf any of these three factors does not apply, installation of cruise control is still possible, although it makes the job so complicated that the project might not be worthwhile. A mechanical accelerator needs to be equipped with a servo motor. Ultimately, DIY development of a cruise control is not permitted and without the required study either not feasible.

Different retrofitting solutions

cruise control retrofitting solutionsThe amount of work for retrofitting cruise control in a car strongly depends on the car type and age. In modern cars, retrofitting speed control is considerably simpler than it is in older models. In modern cars, replacement of the multifunctional column switch and programming the system in the control unit are sufficient to enable use of this system. In older cars on the other hand, the complicated conversion of the cable harness and installing an additional electronic module might be necessary.

Costs of a professional installation

costs for cruise controlCosts strongly depend on the amount of work as well. A VW Golf 6 requires installation of a new column switch, which costs 60 – 80 euro in the accessory shop. In high-grade cars, a multifunctional control switch with cruise control could cost up to 180 euro. A garage figures ca. 100 euro for the installation of these solutions. A fee of 600 euro applies to more extensive installation with new wiring and additional modules.Up to 50% on car electrics

Sequence of works on cruise control upgrade

The sequence of the works for retrofitting cruise control is always the same.

1. Activation of cruise control in the control unit

In some installation modules, cruise control is activated in the control unit prior to installation, in other modules not until after installation. The installation manual of the component will tell you how to proceed.

2. Removing the airbag

Prior to removal of the airbag, the battery must be disconnected. Wait 15 minutes to allow all voltage to dissipate. Not until then the airbag can be safely disassembled. For all works in the interior, working with plastic clip removers is recommended to reliably avoid scratching the panelling.

3. Removing steering wheel and column switch

The old steering column switch has to be removed to enable installation of a new one. This requires removal of the entire panelling. Here also applies: work carefully and avoid scratches which would considerably spoil the project’s success.

4. Installing assembly module

Depending on the size of the assembly kit, adaptations to the cable harness of the car might be required. This could mean a lot of work. Expertise in handling insulation pliers, crimping pliers, cables and plugs is necessary. The utmost precision and knowledge has to be applied to avoid adding a failure to the wiring of the car.

5. Everything back in its place

Everything is put back in its place before connecting the battery. Depending on the type, the new module needs to be programmed in the control unit.

Saving fuel with cruise control?

how to install a cruise controlCruise control is first and foremost a comfort system enabling relaxed driving for long distances. The speed is kept at a steady level and returns to its initial settings after acceleration due to e.g. an overtaking manoeuvre. Cruise control regulates speed considerably more accurate than the most experienced driver and therefore cruise control could slightly reduce fuel consumption.
cruise control with manual transmissionSetting cruise control according to the maximum speed limit can reliably prevent notice by speed enforcement, adequately compensating for installation costs.
Cruise control is no automatic pilotCruise control is no automatic pilot. It use should be studied and practiced. Nevertheless the system doesn’t make driving less safe: as soon as the brake pedal is applied, cruise control disengages and the car switches to manual control. This does not limit the comfort. After the braking action cruise control can be re-engaged by pressing the memory button. Nevertheless we recommend using cruise control exclusively on motorways. Here it can deploy its full potential.

buy original VALEO steering column switch

Mind the airbag

pay attention to airbagsRetrofitting cruise control requires deactivation and removal of the steering wheel airbag.
Handling an airbag without the necessary skills can cause a life-threatening situation!
Be sure to follow the necessary steps for safe disassembly and assembly of the steering wheel airbag.


how to upgrade a cruise control systemThe following steps are not intended as an installation manual, but as a general description. They are not suitable for rash adaptation and merely serve the purpose of explaining the extent of the necessary works. We do not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of all described steps, nor do we accept any liability for damage as a result of attempts to follow these steps. Retrofitting a car with cruise control should be left to certified professionals in car mechanics and electronics.

Foto: Realstock, chombosan, A Aleksii, ipuwadol, Maksim Toome, Liukov, zenstock, algre /

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