CVT Transmission Pros and Cons

Continuously Variable Transmission. Those three words are guaranteed to strike dread in the heart of any gearhead who has ever enjoyed a slick-shifting manual transmission or a crisp-shifting dual-clutch automatic. CVTs eschew traditional gears and instead use a brace of pulleys connected by a strong metal belt.

Rather than deploy a traditional planetary gearset in which a transmission can call upon one of a certain number of gear ratios, a CVT operates without any physical gears at all. Instead, it deploys a belt and pulley system that varies in shape depending on power demands. Technically, it has an infinite number of ratios.

Optimal Power Delivery: With this type of transmission, your car is always in the right gear. Unlike an automatic or even a manual unit, the CVT is programmed to keep the engine’s speed square in its optimal power band, rather than running the tachometer needle from idle to redline when a driver needs acceleration. This arguably provides better performance in some situations, especially when passing another vehicle.

Economy Advantages: A CVT is often more efficient than its traditional counterpart, at least in terms of fuel economy, by dint of always placing a vehicle’s engine speed at the right place at the right time. Cruising at a steady freeway speed, drivers of CVT-equipped cars will find their tachometers reading a very low number, which is great for efficiency.

Simpler Construction: The total number of mechanical parts in a CVT are lower compared to a typical planetary-gearset transmission. Devoid of the usual phalanx of gears and cogs, a CVT box uses a brace of adjustable conical pulleys connected by a steel chain or belt. Depending on the vehicle’s speed, the sides of each pulley move toward or away from each other, varying the drive ratio, passes the chain into a groove formed between the pulleys. This mechanical simplicity means things tend to go wrong less often.

Lighter Weight: Thanks to their innards, CVTs are often lighter and more compact than a conventional automatic transmission. Dropping weight from a car’s powertrain has several advantages, not the least of which is a bump in fuel economy.

Smooth Shifter: Anyone who’s awkwardly poked their left foot at a clutch pedal knows the embarrassment of roughly grabbing the next gear. Your passenger snaps about like a bobblehead, wondering why you’re driving like a pro-demolition derby driver. CVTs, thanks to not having any gears at all, move seamlessly from idle to peak power.

Sounds Like It’s Busted: CVTs have a natural disadvantage because some of them are programmed in such a way that makes consumers think they are broken or working improperly. A traditionally programmed CVT absent of any stepped gear feeling may cause a driver to unfairly misjudge its normal operating performance as a sign of unreliability.

Noisy Operation: Many drivers have complained about the CVT propensity to “hang” at a high rpm, causing the engine to rev wildly under acceleration. This is an inherent trait of all CVTs, even those programmed with simulated stepped gears. Extra noise is generally unwelcome in any car unless it is the rumble of a powerful engine.

Opposite of Sporty: It’s tough to argue against the fact that CVTs are simply no fun at all. Sure, they’re useful and efficient, but so is my toaster on the kitchen counter, a unit which definitely does not inspire one shred of emotion, except for the occasions when it inexplicably turns my morning toast into fresh cinders. No ballads will be sung about continuously variable transmissions, either.

Not Bulletproof: You’ll notice the majority of today’s vehicles that have a CVT slung underneath them are milquetoast econoboxes or compact crossovers that lean more towards practicality than sportiness. This is not a coincidence. Most CVTs are not yet able to handle high-torque applications without shattering themselves into a thousand oily bottlecaps.

Expensive Maintenance: Upkeep and running costs of a CVT tend to be quite low but actual repairs can be more expensive thanks to parts that are generally more expensive to replace. Finding a competent transmission specialist who knows their way around a CVT with the same confidence as a traditional manual or automatic may also be a challenge.

Its either mechanics became lazy, or the CVT gearbox became too complicated for our local mechanics.

Kitu kidogo ikiharibika, mechanics just direct you to buy a new gearbox. No diagnostics, No nothing, its like a blanket rule they woke up one day and decided to effect. . Hii kitu huudhi sana.

its incompetence

cvt are inefficient in slow town driving. Anyone who has owned different vehicles knows that.
most are not responsive but some manufacturers tune them for response and the economy takes a hit.
The only real advantage of a CVT against a six speed or a eight speed auto is cheaper manufacturing. period.

Same group that advices you to remove the thermostat.

The technology is still new and manufacturers are using consumers as guinea pigs.

When is it time to change the cvt fluid in a Toyota? They claim it lasts for a lifetime of the car which i highly doubt

Its advisable to change every 50K kms.

Soon all cars will be fully electric and we will forget all this CVT chieth. They have all the pros you mention though and will increasingly dominate car transmissions in the then to fifteen years before we finally go full electric.

@ChifuMbitika naona hapa wengi ni watoto wadogo wakuendesha JDM … Sisi commercial drivers (Currently on a 2007 local assembly E24 van with the good old manual transmission) tuelekee kule senate au? Never had to change or even worry about transmission

CVT is a technology that isnt yet mature so is not yet very reliable. If you value reliability, get an auto.

Thats why Mbogi ya Axio are always complaining about gearbox issues. Y’all go to shell and get the same ATF thats used on other auto vehicles. Get the recommended CVT fluid from Toyota Kenya or Recommended Outlet.

This is why we got the 2013, 5 speed manual, axio Corolla. I did my research before buying. Initially I wanted a Nissan teana V6 (CVT) but settled for the JDM Corolla because of the transmission.
I get showered with compliments all the time when people realize that the car has a standard transmission, which is funny because axios and fielders are like the most common cars in Kenya. It’s all they want to talk about lol
Did I mention that the average gas mileage we get is 14.5km/l? That’s right 3500 ksh is all the petrol money we need to get to the coast or western from Nairobi!

these days the auto is more efficient than manual. there is no argument for manual except sentiment.

Good choice to forego the CVT Teana. It appears the latest Teana comes with only CVT. Bad choice on Nissan’s part. There should have been an auto option

Hebu mfanye research ya kitu inaitwa body valve kwa CVT transmissions. These CVT gearboxes factories should just be bombed tusahau story ya hizi gearbox.

What about reliability, robustness, easier and cheaper maintenance/repair, longetivity?

That’s the problem with most people, they will buy a car just based off of looks, clout and prestige potential. They don’t care about reliability etc…

They should atleast have an auto option I 100% agree!

I like manuals because they are more fun, more engaging, more manly etc, but all those are personal preference reasons. Nevertheless, it’s time we moved to full electric cars, internal combustion is dead… Hybrids are chieth, full electric is the future

auto has cheaper maintenance. and good brands last forever. probability of damage by user is low. for manual damaged gear teeth, damaged synchroniser, and burnt/slipping clutch are routine. these manual drivers think we haven’t driven manual. We had manual vehicles before they sat on a driver’s seat.