What is Different About a CVT Transmission and How to Repair it

The job of a transmission, in general, is to harness the energy made by the engine and channel it to power the wheels. An automatic transmission is a metal box with a series of gears, each with a specific ratio to make sure the wheels don’t spin at the same speed as the engine.

Digital Trends explained further, “Torque from the engine enters the transmission through the input shaft, goes through the gears, and comes out through the output shaft. How it reaches the wheels from there depends on whether the car is front-, mid-, or rear-engined, and whether it’s front- or rear- or all-wheel drive.” With a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle, there is the added complication of a transfer case which is required to distribute power to the front and rear axles while also synchronizing the difference in rotation between axles when the vehicle is not going in a straight line.

Manual Transmissions

The differences between types of transmissions are pretty straightforward. A manual, or stick-shift transmission uses a stick, or metal rod, to change gears and is connected to the transmission with a linkage.

With a manual transmission, gears are changed when a clutch disc between the engine and transmission is released using a pedal to the left of the brake. Push the pedal to release the clutch, move the stick to the proper gear, and release the clutch pedal.

Automatic Transmissions

“Instead of a clutch, an automatic transmission uses a torque converter to connect the engine to the transmission,” says Carfax. “An automatic transmission relies on a planetary gear set to shift the vehicle’s gears. This set features a central sun gear, accompanied by planet gears that rotate around it.”

“When gears are shifted in an automatic transmission, small clutches and brakes determine which individual gears in a specific gear set are allowed to move. Also, adjustments are made regarding which of the multiple planetary gear sets are connected and receiving power.”

So, What's Different About Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT)?

A CVT is something like a bike system, according to AutoGuide.com. “It’s made up of a pulley system, with cones at each pulley, all connected by a chain belt. These cones move closer together or further apart to increase or decrease the diameter at which the belt operates. The ratio here is important and is selected automatically based on factors like gas pedal position, vehicle speed, and engine speed. What all this means is that a CVT doesn’t shift at all like a traditional gearbox. The ratios are always changing in order to find the perfect combination of speed, fuel efficiency or both.”

A major challenge with CVT transmissions from a repair standpoint is the difficulty in finding aftermarket or even OEM parts. Moreover, specialty tools are only recently becoming available to technicians. This prevents a rebuild in many cases yet there are select options for a repair.

Call the Experts for CVT Repairs

CVT transmissions have increased in popularity over the years, to a point where nearly every manufacturer has a vehicle in its lineup with a CVT. This is a trend we have followed from the beginning at Advanced Transmission Center.

Our Denver-area technicians study constantly 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.

Be sure to contact us at Advanced Transmission for a free TrueTest Inspection, where we pinpoint your vehicle’s specific issues, our technicians perform numerous hands-on tests, and we quote only the repairs you need. Call our Northwest Denver center at (303) 421-4140, our Southwest Denver center at (303) 922-4102 or contact us online today!

Written by Advanced Transmission Center