What Is Downhill Cruise Control? Hill Descent Control Explained for Those in Automotive School

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Downhill cruise control allows drivers to have the safest possible ride down a steep incline. Also known as hill descent control, this system allows anti-lock brake systems and traction control to work alongside one another to prevent tires from slipping while descending a hill. Slippage can often occur when driving on snowy hills or on descents having rough terrain. Many major automotive manufacturers offer SUVs featuring downhill cruise control technology, such as Ford, Kia, Hyundai, Land Rover, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.

This automotive innovation can help keep drivers and passengers safe, even whilst descending very steep slopes. So how exactly does it work? Read on to learn more about downhill cruise control!

How Downhill Cruise Control Works

Downhill cruise control technology was first introduced all the way back in 2002 by Land Rover, for their Freelander vehicles. When this technology is activated in a vehicle, braking pressure is adjusted so that tire slippage is averted. A consistent speed level is maintained while the car goes down a hill, without need of downshifting or braking on the driver’s part. By keeping a set speed at all times, downhill driving becomes easier and less dangerous for the driver. 

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Downhill cruise control is useful for driving on rough terrain

Why Downhill Cruise Control Is a Helpful Tool 

As this technology reduces the need of braking or touching the gas pedal, those with auto careers recognize that drivers can more easily navigate steep inclines. For one, this allows them to stay fully focused on any obstacles in front of them, which becomes especially useful when driving on uneven terrain. Regardless of the road conditions a driver is experiencing on a hill, downhill cruise control is designed to keep drivers and passengers safe in these situations. It also prevents drivers from exceeding the system’s internal set speed limit by braking whenever that limit is breached, and might also activate brake lights if the vehicle is going too fast.

Problems Those With Auto Careers Might Watch Out for

Although this type of technology is an excellent tool for drivers to use when going down steep hills, it’s by no means perfect. As an example, those enrolled in automotive school might be interested to discover downhill cruise control can’t run at very fast speeds. In some cases, these systems only allow drivers to accelerate up to 8 km/h on a descent. Some manufacturers such as Ford, however, do allow drivers to drive downhill at speeds as high as 32 km/h. When a driver does manage to exceed the top speed for downhill cruise control, the vehicle usually cannot maintain the set speed anymore. 

With these system deficiencies in mind, it’s important for drivers and automotive pros to know how to avoid any potential issues with slippage or driving on uneven ground. To retain optimal control, the driver must first lower their speed before going downhill. They must also ensure that any dangerous obstacles are identified whilst driving, and that they steer and brake accordingly to avoid damage.

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