What is your opinion on aftermarket cruise control?
February 22, 2012 11:19 AM   Subscribe

What are your experience with aftermarket cruise control? Specifically I'm asking about the 2012 Subaru Impreza hatchback base model, which doesn't include cruise control.

I'm really liking the new 2012 Subaru Imprezas with their much improved gas mileage. But the base model doesn't include cruise control. I know after market cruise control options exist, but my googling hasn't shown any results that specify this car in particular. The Cruise Control Store doesn't have anything for the newer Subaru models.

I guess I'm wondering:
  1. whether I'll even be able to find an aftermarket cruise control for this car (2012 Subaru Impreza hatchback base model w/ manual transmission)
  2. what other's experiences have been with after market cruise control.
posted by czytm to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I installed one in a Toyota Yaris, just like the ones in your link. It looked a little hokey but definitely worked fine.
posted by zsazsa at 11:26 AM on February 22, 2012

i would be skeptical for a new car. The whole traction control/anti lock brakes/engine management system are getting so tied together that designing an aftermarket add on would seem to be really difficult. i would shop for one at a junkyard or talk to the dealership about installing the factory one. These days the wiring harness is identical for all cars and the options are just plugged into it, so adding in the factory one shouldn't be too difficult.
posted by bartonlong at 11:49 AM on February 22, 2012

Oh my goodness, is this an actual thing that exists? I had no idea and I want cruise control in my Yaris SO BAD.

Can I add one more question to the OP's original question: how much does it cost to have one of these things installed?
posted by mskyle at 11:55 AM on February 22, 2012

One thing I'd be careful about when considering this for a brand-new car is the effect on the warranty; usually, installing nontrivial after-market systems either voids a warranty outright, or makes it very hard to actually get things fixed.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:10 PM on February 22, 2012

Someone I know had aftermarket cruise control installed in their late 90s Mazda in and around 1998, so I know it's been POSSIBLE for a long time now. Seemed to work well enough, the only problem was the shop wired it up wrong (probably first time they ever did a standard transmission) so the brake light would come on whenever the clutch pedal was engaged. This was subsequently fixed and it continued to work for the life of the car until it was totalled years later.
posted by some loser at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2012

A lot of those kits from that link look like OEM or copies of OEM. Now that a lot of cars have electronic throttles, the cruise control is integrated into the ECU. If you look at a cable operated throttle car with cruise control, there was a giant vacuum operated servo that yanked on the throttle to control the vehicle's speed.
posted by narcoleptic at 12:47 PM on February 22, 2012

I had one on my '74 Ranchero back in the mid '80s. The sensor magnets tended to pop off if I recall correctly and it was ugly. I assume newer ones are better but I wouldn't assume they're a so much better I'd ever want one again.
posted by chairface at 12:54 PM on February 22, 2012

Have you asked the parts department at the dealer whether it's possible to add the equivalent of factory cruise? I did this to a 2001 Mustang. In that car, a few parts required for cruise were missing from the base model (a steering wheel with the buttons, and a mechanical bit including a throttle-pulling cable that fit mostly under the left fender), but the factory ECU had the ability to run them when installed.

If a similar option is available to you it would be a much, much better solution.
posted by fritley at 1:45 PM on February 22, 2012

I had an aftermarket cruise installed on a BMW back in the 80's. Looked a bit out-of-place with the rest of the interior, but it worked ok.

I would definitely ask if it's possible to retrofit the factory unit, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:08 PM on February 22, 2012

Aftermarket cruise is pretty simple to fit, and works well - I have been using one for 10+ years. But if you can get one through the parts dept at your dealer, for a 2012 I would expect that to be the best solution.

The main complication is the increasing use of CAN-bus technology, and the disappearance of speedo drives, throttle cables. It can be done, but can get (more) expensive. Start by talking to auto accessory places, and Subaru service departments. If you know any non-dealer Subaru specialist workshops, they should be a good resource.

My partner has a late model Honda Jazz (which lacks cruise), and it requires an additional speed sensor to be fitted to the driveshaft to give an aftermarket cruise unit that data. We have not proceeded because it is used mainly in town, and the price was (iirc) around $A900 fitted.

Be prepared to find that the model with cruise would have been cheaper to buy after you add the aftermarket cruise - may not be so, but it might not be cheap.
posted by GeeEmm at 2:20 PM on February 22, 2012

I just bought a 2012 Impreza hatchback (the Premium model with cruise control) and I'm a little underwhelmed with the in-town gas mileage. I'm only on my second tank of gas, but I'm getting about 20 MPG in town (should be closer to 25-27). I haven't really taken it out on the highway much, but I will here in a few weeks for an extended road trip. Feel free to message me later about the hwy gas mileage. I haven't griped to the dealer about the gas mileage yet, so it may be an engine tuning issue that would solve my crappy mileage. It is my one complaint about the car, but I've only had it for 3 weeks!
posted by sararah at 3:01 PM on February 22, 2012

My parents bought a brand new Subaru station wagon in 1988, and I remember quite vividly that we got it but immediately sent it back out again to get cruise control installed. I'm guessing we had that car for five or six years, including multiple cross-country trips, and it was perfectly fine.
posted by Madamina at 10:01 PM on February 22, 2012

Best answer: I just wanted to jump back in and say putting in an aftermarket cruise control system on a car ten years old (or older) and a modern car with all the electronic stuff on it they have these days is vastly, vastly different. Most cars now have a throttle by wire system and not a mechanical linkage, a very tight well managed fuel control system and traction control of some type. Putting on an aftermarket system can screw this all up in totally unforseen and very expensive to repair ways. This computer system that is all tied together is why we have v6 mustangs that can do 0-60 in 6 seconds and still get 30 mpg. Or subaru imprezas (the WRX-STI) with 300+ hp out of a small displacement 4 cylinder that is reliable for 100k plus miles. The downside to this is the system can NOT be modified easily without screwing something up. Stick with the factory stuff, it is better for you and the car.
posted by bartonlong at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2012

Best answer: The aftermarket system I put in my Yaris basically had three plugs that plugged inline to existing ones on the car: one to plug into the ECU to get the current speed and RPMs, one to the brake pedal to detect if the brake has been pressed, and one to the gas pedal to either pass on or override the current throttle setting, depending on if the cruise was on or not. Not much to screw up, honestly.
posted by zsazsa at 2:45 PM on February 23, 2012

zsazsa, that is the kind of thing i was mentioning in my first comment. Something that works with the existing control systems in the car. The 'classic' aftermarket cruise control a lot of people are mentioning are ones that use the vacuum in the manifold and manipulate the throttle linkage to achieve the cruise control effect. This kind of system is not going to work on a modern automobile. However installing a factory system should be very, very easy, pretty much exactly what you are describing, and might be available at a price from a junkyard or dealer that is about the same as an aftermarket system.
posted by bartonlong at 4:01 PM on February 23, 2012

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