What is a CVT Transmission?
A CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission is an automatic, single speed, and gearless transmission that can shift through an infinite number of gear ratios. This ability to seamlessly shift through these different gears provides a number of benefits including extremely smooth shifts and exceptional fuel economy. Although the CVT has become much more popular in recent years, the idea has been around for centuries. CVT transmissions are most common in these makes: Nissan, Chrysler, Mini Cooper, Lexus, Subaru, Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota and other manufacturers with smaller vehicles.
How CVT Works
The CVT works similar to the way the transmission on a snowmobile works, in that there is a pulley system with cones at each pulley, all connected by a chain belt. The cone moves closer together or further apart to increase or decrease the diameter at which the belt operates. This is how the unit changes gear ratios and allows the unit to quickly “shift” into the necessary gear ratio to allow for either increased power and/or increased fuel economy when needed. The important thing to note is that although it is considered an automatic transmission it does not shift at all like a traditional gearbox.
Is CVT Better?
The biggest advantage of the CVT over automatic or manual units is its ability to provide power without shifting while driving up a hill. The CVT transmission operates without any physical gears, it has an infinite number of ratios, making it the most fuel-efficient technology!
Common Problems with CVT Transmissions
The most common problems occur because of fluid maintenance:
Dirty or Low Transmission Fluid - Transmission fluid used well beyond the recommended maintenance interval
Incorrect Fluid Used - Only go to a service provider that knows the needs and requirements of your CVT transmission
Overheating Transmission - Due to clogged coolers or old fluid
Valve Body Wear - Due to lack of fluid maintenance
Damaged Push Belt, Pulleys & Bearings -- General wear & tear
Tips for Maintaining a CVT
The most important thing you can do to maintain the health of a CVT is to take care of the transmission fluid. We recommend following your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation on how often to do so. This information, along with the type of fluid most appropriate for your vehicle, will be in the owner’s manual. At Quality Transmission & Auto Service, Inc., our mechanics are trained and certified.
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