What Does ACC Mean in a Car?

When you own a car, you are going to be faced with all kinds of codes and symbols that show the health of your vehicle. It is essential that you understand what each of these codes and symbols is. Not only will this save you time, but it will also save you money on repairs that you easily could have avoided.

The acronym ACC in a car means Adaptive Cruise Control. You must understand there are different types of cruise controls.

In this article, you will learn about ACC and alternative cruise control options as well as how to use them appropriately.

What Is Adaptive Cruise Control?

Adaptive Cruise Control is a step above standard cruise control that most vehicles are equipped with. ACC allows the car to adjust the rate of speed during travel. It will allow the vehicle to speed up and slow down based on the actions of the leading car. Cars with ACC have built-in sensors that can decide the speed of vehicles ahead of you.

Most cars have cruise control of some sort. Either conventional or adaptive. Currently, most car models have ACC installed. If it is not available in your vehicle, you can choose to buy the installation package.

ACC is becoming common in cars because of the added safety it supplies the driver. While we like to think of ourselves as constantly aware of what is going on when we are driving, there are many instances where accidents happen because of a split second of inattention. The use of ACC helps offer protection during these times.

What Does the Symbol Look Like?

When you turn any control feature on, there is likely a symbol that appears on the dashboard. This shows the car is using the ACC function. The ACC symbol is typically white. If the symbol is greyed out, it shows the control is not currently active.

Like most message symbols, any color other than white or grey may show a problem, and you will likely need to check with your mechanic for guidance. It is vital that you understand the messages you are getting from the ACC symbols to ensure your car is safe on the road.

Is ACC an Expensive Feature?

Typically, when cars have added features, the price of the car increases. While this may be true if you are trying to add the part to a vehicle, it is becoming standard in most cars which means there is likely no added cost.

If you would like to add the ACC feature to your current car, you can expect to pay between $500-$2,500 for the feature. When choosing to add ACC to your vehicle, you need to understand there are primary and advanced options. The basic choices will be much less to add than the advanced options.

Is ACC Safe to Use at All Times?

You may be wondering if ACC is a safety feature to have on a vehicle. The thought of allowing the cars to control how fast or slow you are going can be unnerving to some drivers. ACC can be a safe choice, but it can also be a hazardous feature if not used properly. The use of ACC is currently being called into question by some insurance companies as well as law offices.

Adaptive Cruise Control, while helpful, can be dangerous. Unlike standard cruise control features, once the ACC is set, it does not go off until the driver pushes the correct button. This means that traffic could come to a standstill, and the ACC will still be active.

Here are some of the situations when you shouldn’t use ACC:

  • Attention to the road: It appears that when drivers are using the ACC feature on their cars, they are less likely to pay attention to the road ahead of them. This is because they don’t need to control the speed of their vehicle since it is done for them.
  • Weather: It is not safe to use cruise control in variable weather conditions. ACC is the same. Using it in poor weather conditions increases the risk for an accident to occur. It would be best if you were in control of the speed of your vehicle in rain or snow. The car is not equipped to adjust appropriately for these conditions.
  • Traffic: When you are driving in heavy traffic, your speed needs to be adjusted accordingly. There is a chance that ACC does not allow for adequate adjustments when facing heavy or congested traffic. Because of these, accidents can occur.
  • Terrain: The ACC system, while advanced, is not able to make sudden changes to the speed to account for changing terrain. If you are on a flat stretch, it is likely to be more effective than if you are traveling on hilly and flat terrain.

These are examples of times when ACC may not be as effective as it should be and when it could be more dangerous than it is intended to be.

The Benefits of Using Adaptive Cruise Control

After reading some of the negative things about this feature, you may be wondering why we should use it at all. Unbelievably, it can be helpful in some circumstances. Here are some of the times ACC can be beneficial:

  • Steady Speed: If you are traveling in a location where you can safely keep a constant speed going, ACC can be safe and useful. This is preferred by individuals that are not traveling in an area with traffic and terrain changes where a steady speed can be helpful.
  • Economical: Using cruise control helps keep steady fuel consumption because you aren’t constantly speeding up and slowing down. Many users prefer ACC because speeding up and slowing down is done for them in a gradual way.
  • Less Stressful: Some drivers feel less stress when the car is in control of adjusting the speed it is traveling at. Cruise control allows the driver some freedom to relax because the vehicle can sense and adapt as necessary.
  • Avoid Hazards: Not only can ACC help a driver avoid slowed drivers, but it can also help to avoid unforeseen road hazards that may appear. Because the ACC will sense an object in the road, it could help you to avoid an accident or damage to your car.

There are many benefits to ACC, but the usefulness and safety come down to the driver’s attention to the road. ACC does not make the car self-driving, and it is not always one hundred percent effective at avoiding dangers. However, it can be convenient to have with proper attention and use.

You can also save some money. Many insurance companies will offer discounts or rewards for using extra safety features. While ACC is still questioned by some companies for its safety, there are some companies that will extend a 5-10% discount on your insurance for the feature.

Other FAQs About Adaptive Cruise Control

Can You Use ACC When Towing?

It would help if you never used cruise control of any kind when you are towing a trailer or heavy load. While the ACC may work well for a normal-weight vehicle, it cannot adequately stop a car with added weight. The stopping time and distance are much greater with added weight. The ACC sensor cannot detect the added weight, so it will not be able to use the sensors appropriately. This could likely cause an accident.

Do Break Lights Come on With ACC?

This may leave you with the question about how drivers know you are slowing down with ACC. When you slow down a car on your own, the brake lights show to drivers around you that you are slowing down. The signal is the same with ACC. Your brake lights engage when ACC slows the vehicle down. This allows other drivers to know what you are doing on the road, which can help prevent accidents.

Will ACC Drain My Battery?

Sometimes when car manufacturers add features into cars, they tend to pull on the battery even when not in use. The good thing about ACC is that it does not use any battery power when the car is not in use. Remember, the Adaptive Cruise Control is a feature meant to be used when the vehicle is being driven. When the car is in park or off, the ACC has no reason to be on or working.

Is ACC Bad for Your Car?

Cruise control is not bad for your car but remember there are risks that come with using it. Perhaps you have heard talk that cruise control is harmful to your car and warnings that it may damage the engine of your vehicle. Because of this, it is typically preferred that you manually control the speed and stopping of your car.

Does ACC Save Gas?

Many people choose to use cruise control to conserve fuel in their vehicles. You may be wondering if this is legitimate or another wise tale. Cruise control is a way to use less fuel when driving. Here are some of the ways gas is conserved:

  • Speed:  When an individual handles speeding up and slowing down, they are more likely to do this more often, which in turn uses more fuel.
  • Acceleration: Without using cruise control, drivers are more likely to accelerate at times. It may not be ideal. For example, when going uphill or when moving around vehicles. When doing this, more fuel is used by the car.

A car that is being driven with ACC engaged will use less fuel over time because of the consistent speed and acceleration rate. However, it must be noted that some individuals are able to keep a high degree of consistency when driving. For these individuals, cruise control won’t present much of a difference.

Common Issue: ACC Temporarily Unavailable

If you receive a message on your car that your ACC is temporarily unavailable, do not panic. There is likely a simple solution to this problem. The reason you may receive this message is:

  • The sensors are blocked.
  • The camera is blocked.

If any of the items that supply guidance to the car to show when the ACC needs to be used are blocked, the feature will not work. If you notice this, there are some things you can do to remedy the problem before heading to the garage:

  • Check the camera:  The camera for this feature is typically found behind the rearview mirror. If there is fog on the window or dirt, the camera may not be able to pick up a clear image, and it will shut it down.
  • Conditions: The weather conditions could affect the feature. It may temporarily disable the camera from getting a clear picture if it is exceptionally sunny and bright.
  • Sensors: Check the sensors for dirt or build-up. If you have been driving in mud or slush, a slight build-up could cause the sensors not to work.
  • Bugs: The sensors for ACC are on the front of the car. If you have an excess build-up of bugs on the sensors or the window where the camera is, you may run into this issue.

After trying these fixes, if the problem is still there, you will likely need to seek the help of a mechanic. Unfortunately, it may be an electrical issue that is not able to be fixed at home.

Final Thoughts

Adaptive Cruise Control is a step above standard cruise control. It is preferred by many drivers because it allows a certain degree of freedom when driving. While this freedom is welcomed, it can also be problematic if a driver is not attentive to the road. If you have ACC in your car, you can feel protected because it will sense the speed of the vehicle in front of you as well as offer protection from objects on the road. As with anything, you need to use caution when driving.

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