CVT Transmission Pros and Cons

Most auto-owners are familiar with automatic and manual transmissions. However, Continuously Variable Transmissions, or “CVT” transmissions, have grown in popularity over recent years. When looking for a new vehicle, there is a good chance you'll need to evaluate a CVT transmission which is becoming more common in passenger vehicles and small SUVs. Below, we discuss a beginner's guide to the pros and cons of owning a vehicle with a CVT transmission.

Background: What Does a CVT Do?

A CVT Transmission differs from other transmissions in both operation and maintenance. Simply put, it operates like a bike system through the use of cones, pulleys, and chain belts. Contrary to a traditional gearbox, this type of transmission shifts gears automatically based on ratios of the gas pedal position, vehicle speed, and engine speed. As ratios consistently change, a CVT transmission adapts to achieve fuel efficiency and speed acceleration.

Pros of a CVT Transmission


This transmission model rates among the most efficient, as it offers high gas mileage and fuel economies. In addition to fuel efficiency, a CVT transmissions operate more effectively than traditional automatic transmissions when driving up steep inclines. As there are times when automatic transmissions struggle with smooth acceleration on a slope, a CVT transmission seamlessly identifies the exact ratio needed to effortlessly provide power without ever shifting. Some CVT owners complain this is true theoretically. However, practically, the CVT does not perform as optimally as advertised.

Low Production Costs

CVT transmissions have popularized to a point where nearly every manufacturer now makes at least one vehicle with a CVT. A great contributory factor to manufacturers favoring the production of CVT transmissions is the low costs associated with it. CVTs are assembled with fewer moving parts than traditional automatic transmissions. Therefore, manufacturers can build transmissions with lower expenses and labor times.

Cons of a CVT Transmission

Accelerator Delay and Lack of Shift Points

While the benefits of fuel and accelerator efficiency and low production costs are attractive, consumers may also be aware of compromised features. Since the transmission is fuel efficient, your acceleration experience at times feels dull and monotonous. For drivers who enjoy the sound of transmission gears changing throughout acceleration points, this feature may be detrimental to your interest in CVT transmissions. Additionally, drivers may experience a delay between stepping on the gas pedal and the transmission responding, due to the CVT band adjusting the ratio before outputting the desired force and acceleration.

Higher Repair Costs

While production costs are low, a CVT transmission can be costly if a problem occurs. In addition to pricey replacement parts, availability of parts for CVT transmissions is a major challenge for rebuilding a unit in-house. Identifying a transmission repair shop readily capable of replacing CVT transmissions with experience and knowledge is invaluable. Most shops turn on OEM solutions and dealerships to provide replacement CVTs. However, our team is dissatisfied with the limited 1-year warranty that comes with those units. Our preference, when available, is to get a re-manufactured CVT transmission from Certified Transmission with a 36-month, 100k mile warranty.

Advanced Transmission

At Advanced Transmission, our facilities are equipped with skilled technicians ready to assess and repair your CVT transmission issues. Our Denver-area technicians are constantly expanding their knowledge with advancements in technology through webinars, seminars, and online technical sites we subscribe to. This ensures that we are always at the forefront of cutting-edge technology and new repair trends such as the CVT.

If you are interested in accurately diagnosing your vehicle without paying for unnecessary repairs, our free TrueTest Inspection pinpoints your vehicles specific issues before any work is done. Schedule a free diagnosis today!

Call our Westminster (Northwest Denver) location at (303) 421-4140, our Lakewood (Southwest Denver) location at (303) 922-4102 or contact us online to get started today!

Written by Advanced Transmission Center