Cruise control technology has been around cars for long, and it is a convenient feature that enables you to keep your car at a preselected speed. The adaptive system takes things a bit further by adjusting your car speed to keep you safe from the vehicle in front of you without you doing anything. For example, if the car in front of you slows down, the ACC will kick in and slow down your car to avoid collision.
Adaptive cruise control has different names, such as dynamic cruise control, intelligent cruise control, radar cruise control, automatic cruise control, distance control, and active cruise control. In the subsequent paragraphs, I’ll explain how the system works, its benefits, and its limitations.
How does ACC work?
The ACC technology has specific controls on the steering that allow you to set a specific speed and distance between your car and the car in front of you. You can also intervene at anything by pressing the gas pedal or the brake pedal.
The adaptive cruise control (ACC) uses information from two sensors — a distance sensor to maintain a set distance between your car and the car in front of it and a speed sensor to accelerate/decelerate your car while driving. In some vehicles, “the ACC system technology has a lane-centering feature, which scans the lane markings and helps you stay in your lane if the system detects you’re drifting out of it”.
Here’s how the system works
- You set the speed limit you want to drive at
- The adaptive cruise control system maintains the set speed
- If the built-in radar sensor detects a car ahead of you, the system will slow the vehicle’s speed to prevent a collision
- Once the road is clear, the system will accelerate the vehicle to maintain a pre-set speed
- ACC with a stop-and-go enables your car to come to a complete stop whenever the car in front of you stops.
Whether you are asking, what does acc mean in a car, Toyota, or what does acc mean in a car, Honda, you now know the answer and also how they work. ACC means the same thing in all cars. Though, some advanced ACC may have additional features.
However, depending on the context, ACC may mean different things in a car. You have seen that ACC means adaptive cruise control system. But what is ACC mode in a car? ACC on ignition mode is the second mode that turns on car accessories but not the engine. When you turn on your car to the ACC mode, it allows you to turn on the radio, windshield wiper, lights, etc.
Benefits of Using ACC
The major benefit of the adaptive cruise control system is increased safety as the system allows drivers to pre-set a distance between their car and the one in front of it. This technology allows drivers to set short, medium, or long distances between the cars in front of them —invariably reducing the chances of fender benders. It also keeps you aware of the obstacles in front, even before you see them.
Another benefit of adaptive cruise control is that it maximizes traffic flow because of its spatial awareness. With the ACC technology, you don’t have to worry about your speed. Instead, you concentrate on other things around you.
Types of ACC Systems
The common types of adaptive cruise control systems are;
- Radar-based cruise control
- Laser-based cruise control
- Binocular Computer vision systems (optical)
- Assisting systems
- Multi-sensor systems
- Predictive systems.
Radar-based cruise control
Automotive radar-based cruise control systems are active safety systems that work by using radar sensors to detect objects around your car’s surroundings. Each radar sensor in the vehicle works in harmony with the others to create a clear picture of the objects around your car and to detect potential objects that could cause collision. Radar sensors look different from other types, depending on your car’s make and model.
Laser-based cruise control
The laser-based adaptive cruise control works from a big box in the car grille. This type of ACC uses laser technology to detect the closeness of objects around your cars. However, it malfunctions frequently in adverse weather conditions, such as rainstorms.
Some adaptive cruise control systems use different types of sensors to maintain a pre-set vehicle speed and the distance between the car at your front and your own car. The manufacturers install these additional sensors to help provide advanced information to drivers. These extra sensors may include cameras and GPS data equipment to gather data about the car’s geographical environment.
As the name suggests, assisting systems is not a standalone ACC. It is a radar-based add-on that you can purchase together. This system offers cruise control, brake assistance, lane control, and proximity alerts to objects like road obstacles and corners.
Binocular Computer vision systems (optical)
According to ExtremeTech, this is a new adaptive cruise control system that made its first debut in 2013. It works by detecting front-facing objects using the small cameras mounted at the rearview mirrors.
A predictive system is another type of adaptive cruise control that predicts the behavior of nearby cars by using predictive sensors. The predictive system can detect when a car in front is suddenly switching to your lane and slow down your vehicle to prevent collision.
Limitations of ACC
While the adaptive cruise control system has many benefits, it has some limitations to consider. The major limitation of the ACC system is that it is not completely autonomous. The driver still has to learn safe driving skills so he can intervene in certain situations to produce excellent results.
Also, the system does not work well in adverse weather conditions, such as rainy, snowy, and foggy environments. Another cause includes when driving through tunnels. The adaptive cruise control system works well in a clear and bright environment.
Should I turn on ACC?
Your adaptive cruise control should not be turned on on winding roads, poor weather conditions, and heavy traffic. Most ACC systems include limited braking and accelerating limits. The driver is in full control of bringing the car to a stop and accelerating above the pre-set speed when the need arises.
Does ACC save fuel?
The Short answer is yes, adaptive cruise control (ACC) can save fuel. According to a study by Natural Resources Canada, setting your ACC at 80 kph will save you 20 percent less fuel than cycling between 75 to 80 kph every 18 seconds. Allowing the cruise control system to keep the pre-set speed is better than manually maintaining the same speed.
Another study by Natural Renewable Fuel Laboratory and Volvo released in 2019 stated that adaptive cruise control can enhance your fuel economy by 5 to 7 percent compared to driving the vehicle manually.
Does having your car on ACC drain the battery?
One of the common questions I see on many automotive forums is, does ACC drain car battery? Adaptive cruise control (ACC) doesn’t cause unnecessary battery drain because it only operates when the engine is working, and the car is traveling above 40 kilometers per hour. In fact, ACC can help conserve battery energy by maintaining a constant speed and reducing the amount of braking required.
Similarly, if you are asking, does ACC on ignition drain battery? The simple answer is no. Leaving your car in ACC mode won’t have much effect on your car. In fact, you can leave the ACC overnight without draining the battery as long as all electronics are switched off.
How long can you leave a car in ACC mode?
You can literally leave your car in ACC mode for hours with some lights on, even with your phone plugged. But you should not leave it on for days, even with all the accessories turned off and nothing plugged in the car.
Speaking of the adaptive cruise control, you can drive with it as long as you want. This technology is there to assist you while driving. However, remember to turn it off during adverse weather conditions and stop-and-go driving.
Is it safe to drive with ACC light on?
The amber adaptive cruise control light on the dashboard means action is required at the ACC. If this light appears on your dashboard while driving, pull over to a safe spot and switch off the engine. Check the radar sensors for obstructing ice, dirt, etc., and restart the engine.
However, it is safe to continue driving with the ACC lights on, but you must not turn on the adaptive cruise control system because it will not function properly at this time.
Can I install ACC in my car?
Yes, you can install an aftermarket adaptive cruise control (ACC) system in your car. There are many ACC system kits in the market, ranging between $250 and $4,000, depending on the features. If you want an ACC system kit with all the features, budget around $2,000 to $4,000. But if you want a kit with a few controls, budget around $250 to $1,500.
But keep in mind, adaptive cruise control cars are a bit costly than the same car without it. The adaptive cruise control technology adds a few thousand dollars to the price of a car.
At this point, you have got your concern about what does ACC mean in a car covered. Simply put, ACC stands for Adaptive cruise control, which is designed to help maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and stay within a speed limit. This system maintains a speed limit and automatically adjusts a car’s speed so drivers don’t have to.
The adaptive cruise control system is evolving each year. Automakers are continuously modifying this system — creating more advanced and affordable options that you can buy with a new car or be added to your used car to increase overall driver safety.