Mechanics and Maintenance

What is Continuously Variable Transmission?

2 min read

Continuously variable transmission (CVT) has been available since 1990. Instead of the traditional fixed gear system, a CVT uses a belt and pulley system allowing for seamless acceleration and greater fuel efficiency.

This article will go into greater detail on how it works and how it benefits the driver.

CVT vs Standard Automatic Transmission

The purpose of any transmission system is to deliver power by adjusting the gear ratio between the engine and the drive wheels. Higher gears are meant for fast, steady driving whereas lower gears are more suitable for accelerating and driving at low speeds.

A standard automatic transmission (SAT) operates using the number of gear ratios installed (usually from four to eight). In a CVT, the belts and pulleys are not fixed into position. Instead, they shorten and lengthen depending on the power required.

Benefits of Using CVT

Because of their lighter weight and greater ability to seamlessly control the engine speed range, CVTs:

  • Are less expensive;
  • Maximise the power output of smaller engines;
  • Give more acceleration;
  • Offer a smoother driving experience;
  • Produce fewer emissions;
  • Have better fuel efficiency;

Disadvantages of CVTs

Some drivers have a hard time getting used to a CVT transmission since you generally don’t feel the gear shifts.

CVTs are also a little noisier, because of the hum that comes from the belt. Manufacturers are still trying to figure out ways to muffle this noise.

How Often do CVTs Need Maintenance?

CVT’s are no less durable than a SAT and do not require more maintenance. However, they can be very expensive to repair.

What Cars Have CVT?

It is difficult to know without an expert opinion because CVTs and SATs look alike; the internal controls are the same and the exterior appears nearly identical.

Nissan and Subaru are known for using CVTs, with Toyota and Honda offering them in many of their models. Usually, you don't have a choice on the transmission of the vehicle.

Although CVTs contain no gears, some manufacturers like Subaru make models with manual shifting. In this system, the pulleys and belts will move to preset points and will feel like gear shifts.

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