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Continuous Variable Transmission

by | Jan 21, 2024 | Automatic Transmission Problems, Best Western Transmission

If your vehicle is fifteen years or less, it is possible that it has a continuous variable transmission (CVT).  A CVT is a type of automatic transmission that can adjust the gear ratio continuously and seamlessly, unlike a conventional automatic transmission that has a fixed number of gears. The CVT is a newer design improvement for vehicles that offers a smoother and more fuel-efficient transmission. In this month’s blog post, we explain what a CVT is and how it works, some of the common problems that a CVT may encounter, and how you can keep your CVT in good condition.

How Does a CVT Work?

A CVT transmission is like an automatic transmission because it does not require input by the driver to shift gears like a manual transmission.  Instead of using gears, a CVT uses two pulleys that are connected by a strong belt or chain.  Depending on the power needs of the vehicle, the pulleys can change their diameters to provide the necessary transmission assistance.   By varying the diameter of the pulleys, the CVT can change the gear ratio to match the engine speed and the vehicle speed. This way, the engine can operate at its most efficient RPM (revolutions per minute) regardless of the driving situation. A CVT can also provide smoother acceleration and deceleration, as there are no sudden shifts or jerks.

What Are Some Common CVT Problems?

While a CVT has many advantages, it is not without its drawbacks. Some of the common issues that a CVT may face are:

  • Overheating: A CVT may overheat due to excessive friction, high temperatures, or low fluid levels.  The overheating can cause damage to the belt and possibly make it slip, break, or wear down.
  • Noise: A CVT may produce a loud droning or whining noise during acceleration, as the engine runs at a constant high RPM.
  • Lag: A CVT may experience a delay or a lag in response when the driver presses the accelerator pedal, as the CVT takes time to adjust the gear ratio. While this is not a mechanical issue, it can affect the drive feeling and vehicle performance.
  • Durability: A CVT may not last as long as a conventional automatic transmission, as the belt or the chain may wear out faster due to the constant tension and friction.

How Can You Maintain Your CVT?

To prevent or minimize the CVT problems, you need to take care of your CVT regularly and properly. Here are some tips on how to maintain your CVT:

  • Check the CVT fluid: You should check the CVT fluid level and condition at least once a month, or as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. The CVT fluid should be clear and clean, and not dark or dirty.
  • Change the CVT fluid: You should change the CVT fluid according to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, or as advised by your mechanic. The CVT fluid should be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, or every two to four years, depending on your driving habits and conditions.
  • Drive gently: You should drive your vehicle with a CVT gently and smoothly, and avoid sudden or hard acceleration, braking, or turning. Extreme temperatures and some driving conditions like dust can also affect the CVT.

By following these tips, you can improve your CVT’s performance and efficiency for a better driving experience and longevity of your vehicle’s transmission. If you would like to have your CVT inspected, contact the service professionals at Best Western Transmission to schedule an appointment.