Towing with cruise control, bad idea? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 01-05-2015, 08:25 PM   #15
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Name: John Michael
Trailer: Scamp 13
Madison, Wisconsin
Posts: 424
Towing with cruise control, bad idea?

Say folks, thanks for all your helpful comments. This group is pretty special.

My Subaru Outback has a manual mode on the cvt with paddle shifters. These are handy going downhill to utilize engine braking. I hate to wear out brake linings/pads when the engine can do the job.

40 years back while descending a mountain in Guatemala first gear on our 3 speed manual transmission wasn't low enough to keep a safe speed. Riding/pulsing the brakes worked, but we had to stop every mile or so as they began to fade from heat. Ten minutes of cooling would get us another mile down the mountain. I think we stopped three times altogether. I suppose that single lane gravel road was at least a 10% grade. The hard part was judging when to use the turnouts as oncoming traffic appeared. There was a wide space every mile or so to allow passing. The scary part was the lack of guard rails and the multi thousand foot low shoulder. We weren't towing back then but riding in a homemade truck camper, an early woodworking project of mine. Nowadays we keep to more sane routes. 😉

John Michael Linck - Toymaker
Camping since 1960 - Scamp 13' Oak
Subaru Outback 4 cyl cvt
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Old 01-05-2015, 09:43 PM   #16
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Name: Pineapple Man
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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
I'm not comfortable using cruise control whether I'm towing or not.
I've tried it and I spend more time and thought monitoring it than if I just drive. To me, it's sort of like having a computer monitor your breathing. Too busy checking lights and gauges to do what's natural.
I have turned it on briefly to alleviate a cramp in my leg.
Reminds me of the first time I experienced ABS brakes.
Wish I could turn those off. After driving 40+yrs. - let me do it myself !

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Old 01-05-2015, 10:07 PM   #17
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Batdude, the front brakes do the majority of the braking. Was the repair shop selling you a bill of goods
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Old 01-06-2015, 03:45 AM   #18
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Hi Pat, Yes manually tapping the brakes does deactivate the cruise control, but when cruise is on and the driver does not manually use the brakes the cruise control will still slow the vehicle by applying the rear brakes and that does not trigger the trailer brakes.
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Old 01-06-2015, 04:48 AM   #19
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Name: Bob
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA
W. Mass
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I've heard cars with adaptive cruise control can apply the brakes, but I've never heard of any other that could. Is that what your Freestyle has?
Bob & Deb
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:18 AM   #20
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Bat Dude,

Interesting discussion. I don't know if our Odyssey activates it's brakes when using cruise control. Certainly the only condition the tow would activate the brakes would be on a steep down hill grade, a pretty rare situation since I don't usually use cruise in hilly terrain. However now I'm interested and will try it.

In normal driving a tow vehicle should not apply it's brakes to scrub speed, the simple reduction of gas should accomplish slowing except on significant down hill slopes.

As you may know trailer brakes are activated by a manual switch located on the brake pedal so your car's electronic activation of the brakes will not activate the trailer's brakes.

It's hard for me to imagine that you drive in enough down hill situations where your tow vehicle's rear brakes are electronically activated to wear the brake pads out or require rotor replacement. We just traded our 2004 Honda CRV with 230,000 miles and the rotors never required replacement.

As to disabling cruise, I use the Cancel (Cruise) switch mounted on the steering wheel. As someone suggested, driving with cruise for some creates a measure of anxiousness . I understand this if driving in heavy traffic. In our case we avoid heavy traffic and generally do not use cruise in heavy traffic.
Norm and Ginny

2014 Honda Odyssey
1991 Scamp 16
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:19 AM   #21
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Trailer: 2003 Casita 16' SD
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I've always towed (Fords) in cruise when conditions allow. I don't have adaptive cruise but I have no sense that it's applying the brakes on my vehicle. Even so, front brakes do the most work and wear the quickest so I can't see that rear brake use would cause any issues for me. Everyone can do what they think but I remain skeptical about unacceptable rear brake from any sort of cruise control.
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:25 AM   #22
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I have never had a vehicle that applies brakes using cruise control. In fact, when using cruise, I have accelerated much faster than it was set at to pass someone, and had it return to the set speed once I let my foot off the accelerator.

Like others, I use cruise control on the open highway. The biggest benefit for me, is not speeding too much, and thus less traffic tickets.
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:27 AM   #23
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Norm, I'd be curious whether your Honda works like mine (automatically downshifting to hold speed on downgrades when cruise control is set). I forgot to mention earlier- when the grade lessens and speed drops back below the preset speed, the transmission upshifts. You have the newer 6-speed, I believe.

As to rear brake wear, some newer models have "electronic brake force distribution" or something like that. Honda uses it on a number of models (including my Pilot) and there were quite a few complaints in the early years about premature rear brake wear and rotor failure. I don't think it had anything to do with adaptive cruise control, but that rear brakes were forced to work harder and the size of the rotors may not have been up to the task. Of course, driving style may have been a factor as well (which is what Honda claimed, of course...). My previous TV, a 2000 Sienna, went 150K on the front pads and never needed rears in 190K of ownership, so I don't think I'm too hard on brakes. We'll see how the Pilot does.
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Old 01-06-2015, 07:30 AM   #24
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Name: Tim
Trailer: '88 Scamp 16, layout 4
North Florida
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Originally Posted by fusedlight View Post
We use it all the time. It especially helps us stay below 65MPH!
This! It makes a BIG difference in control and feel towing at 64 versus just 67 or 68 MPH on our rig. And I am using a full-size (albeit half-ton) pickup truck to tow a 16' Scamp. I may get run over on the 70 MPH highways around here though.
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Old 01-06-2015, 08:35 AM   #25
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re: We weren't towing back then but riding in a homemade truck camper, an early woodworking project of mine.

Toymaker: Great story. I would love to see a picture of that camper.
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Old 01-06-2015, 08:59 AM   #26
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Name: Roger
Trailer: 2009 Trillium 1300 "Homelet"/2014 Subaru Outback "Rosie"
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Talking Cruise

I love my cruise control. I use it all the time except in heavy traffic or winding roads.
Driving through Black Diamond Washington, you WILL get a ticket for 1 mile over. Like the officer says, "35 means 35, not 36."
I received my last ticket, a $15 speeding ticket in West Allis Wisconsin in 1965. I have not sped, with very few exceptions, since then.
I made $2.50 and hour at the time and did not see any sense in throwing a day's wages away.

While towing, I follow the truck speed limit in Oregon and California, 55. I figure somebody has to, the trucks certainly don't. LOL

Re: engine braking. Since manufacturers went to smaller engines, engine braking is a thing of the past as far as I am concerned. The cruise on our Subaru will rev the engine trying to slow on hills, but I always feel the need to assist with brakes and of course this turns cruise off. On moderate hills I will use the manual paddles. I prefer manual transmissions but the old knees don't like clutching especially in stop and go traffic.
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Old 01-06-2015, 09:47 AM   #27
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Name: Patrick
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New York
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FACTS: per automotive industry....NEVER use cruise control when traction is an issue...wet roads, snow, ice etc...there are many your own research and discover why.

OPINION:.... Under even the best of conditions cruise control when towing is very dangerous. When bad things happen around you your reaction time will be much slower when you are overly relaxed with cruise control may not agree but facts are facts...slower reaction time equals a collision/crash more often than not.

Happy Safe Camping!
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:50 AM   #28
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Towing with cruise control, bad idea?

I set cruise on 75 and go from wichita to minneapolis.

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