How Does A CVT Transmission Work?

How Does A CVT Transmission Work?

If you’re looking to buy a new car, you may see the term CVT Transmission. What does it mean? Is it something important you should get or avoid? Read on to learn from one of our experts what it is and how it works.


What is CVT?

CVT is short for continuously variable transmission, which is different from conventional automatic transmission. The automatic transmission has a series of gears that transmit the power of the engine to the wheels. On the other hand, the CVT doesn’t have gears at all. It has a pair of pulleys that are connected by a belt. One of the pulleys is connected to the engine and the other to the wheels. The pulleys have different widths and they change depending on how much power the car needs. This is why it’s called continuously variable transmission.


The CVT works in a different way than the conventional transmission. The way of operating it is pretty much the same, going from Park into Drive, then driving away. But from there, the CVT starts to get more complex.


With an ordinary automatic, there is a set of gears, you can see a vehicle marked as a 6-speed automatic transmission. Each one of the gears has a certain speed range, so as you start accelerating, the car can automatically shift gears.


With a CVT, you don’t have these gears. In reality, you only have one. This one gear can handle all speeds, which is why it’s called a variable.


CVT Transmission vs. Automatic Transmission

There are a few differences between the CVT and the automatic transmission, besides their basic functionality. Some differences are more obvious than others. For example, when you’re driving a CVT car, you can’t feel the gears shifting. You will just notice the car going faster or slower. This will make the ride smooth. What is unusual is that it will choose the ideal speed for any situation and will hold it constant, even if you’re accelerating the vehicle.


Say, for example, you try to go past another car and speed up. When you hit the gas, the car will immediately sway into a nice speed, but it will hold steady even if you keep hitting the gas. So the feeling you normally get in an automatic, where you just climb gears is not there.


Another difference when driving a car like this is the easier takeoff. Since CVT has no gears, your car will get to the ideal torque ratio easier and maintain it. This means that it will be effortless for your car to take off, and even climb on difficult terrain.

Driving a car like this is unique and it’s getting very popular among auto manufacturers. Many manufacturers use CVTs because it can get the most power out of a small engine, delivering a more reactive and quicker acceleration. This is why four-cylinder cars often have CVTs.

CVT Transmission Advantages

Before buying a car with CVT, you might want to look into its reliability. Is this the best transmission for your next car? CVT has some advantages:

  • Gets better gas mileage in city driving. Infinite range, and around 38 miles per gallon in the average sedan.
  • Simple and straightforward power
  • Smooth rides without feeling gears shifting

 CVT Transmission Issues

There are also some drawbacks to CVTs, the most common complaint is that it doesn’t allow for much speed. Some drivers also prefer the feeling of escalating shifts to the steady hum of this transmission. Other issues include:

  • Overheating
  • Sudden loss of acceleration
  • Slipping, shuddering, and jerking 
  • Excessive wear and stretching of the belt
  • Droning sound
  • Cost of repair and maintenance

In the end, it’s up to you what you choose. But, we recommend that you do a test drive before you buy a car with a CVT transmission.

CVT Transmission Maintenance In Las Vegas

If your vehicle’s CVT transmission needs maintenance, think no further and bring it to Sudden Impact Auto today! Our expert technicians have the experience to deal with these technologies and are ready to help you. Call us today at 702-457-3002 to schedule an appointment today!