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Continuously variable transmission: the pros and cons

Added 22 January 2020 by

Everyone who switches from a car equipped with a traditional manual transmission to a car with an automatic one immediately notices the difference in the quality of driving. But what do you feel when using CVT? Is it always a positive experience?

CVT: how does it work?

CVT is a specific kind of automatic transmission. The idea behind its construction sounds spectacular: an ability to obtain an infinite gear ratio without the need to change gears.

In short: by means of a constant transmission of torque to the wheels, CVT allows you to enjoy the unique fun of smooth acceleration without bothering yourself with such “trifles” as shifting gears.

More specifically, in a CVT transmission, classic gears are replaced with a variable-diameter pulleys. Thanks to the construction of this type of gearbox, it’s possible to adapt the gear ratio to the specific torque demand.

One of the interesting things about CVT is the “gear shift simulator” available in some gearboxes of this type. This is an ideal solution for those users of manual transmission who find it difficult to give up their old habits. The second extremely characteristic feature of CVTs is the lack of any audible correlation between the gradual acceleration and the increasing number of engine revolutions.

The pros of cars equipped with CVT

The advantages of CVTs are, among others:

1) engine flexibility

2) lower fuel consumption (unless you accelerate rapidly)

3) greater comfort of use (e.g. less noise in the interior of the vehicle) due to the use of low engine speed when travelling at a constant speed

4) extraordinarily smooth driving

5) smoother uphill driving

6) lightness and compact size

7) ease of use

The cons of cars equipped with the CVT

So if CVTs have so many advantages, why haven’t they managed to conquer the automotive world so far? After all, they didn’t appear yesterday. It turns out that this inspiring solution has some drawbacks, too. The biggest cons of CVTs are:

1) high costs of repair / replacement

2) relatively fast wear / stretching of the drive belt

3) lower durability of the entire mechanism, in comparison to the classic solutions

4) relatively low acceleration

5) high fuel consumption when driving fast

6) more noise when accelerating

7) failures of the electronic equipment

Summary: is it worth it?

Cars equipped with CVT are certainly worth considering for a number of reasons. The fact that they are constantly being improved and modified works in their favour. Failures are corrected regularly. Engineers overcome further and further constraints every day.

When thinking about buying a car with CVT, make sure you take your driving style into account. If you’re one of the calm drivers (no sudden spikes and speeding when you’re at the wheel), travelling with the CVT gearbox will be a true pleasure.

Therefore, to answer the initial question we posed, i.e. what experiences to expect when using the CVT, let us just say that it all depends…

on the driver.

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Continuously variable transmission: the pros and cons
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Continuously variable transmission: the pros and cons
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Everyone who switches from a car equipped with a traditional manual transmission to a car with an automatic one immediately notices the difference in the quality of driving. But what do you feel when using CVT? Is it always a positive experience?
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