The recent model years of many new cars have featured a range of new technologies. Whether you have been shopping around for a new or used vehicle, a continuously variable transmission, or CVT, is one of these. It is a type of automatic transmission that can improve fuel economy. A CVT works differently than a standard transmission, and there are several pros and cons to consider. Continue reading to learn how the system works and what advantages and disadvantages it has to offer.

How Does a Continuously Variable Transmission Work?

An automobile’s transmission system transfers power from the engine to the wheels. It provides different gears to drive in; the typical car had just three or four gears in the past. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to come across eight-, nine-, or 10-speed transmissions, to better optimize engine operation under different conditions. For example, higher gears can be used to improve efficiency, while lower gears can provide better acceleration.

The difference between standard and CVT cars is that rather than stepping between low and high speeds, the transitions among a practically infinite number of gear ratios lets the engine run in an optimal power range. Variable-width pulleys make this possible; one pulley is connected to the engine and another links to the wheels. Both are connected by a flexible belt, allowing the system to adjust to any gear ratio very quickly. According to the EPA, a CVT transmission can yield a nearly 6% improvement in fuel economy.

Modern CVT’s offer adaptability, but the idea goes back to the 16th century with a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. An early CVT was included on the first automobile, produced by Karl Benz, in 1886. While the idea didn’t catch on, the CVT transmission came back in the late 1980s and was adopted by various automakers through the 1990s. It has grown in popularity with improvements such as stronger, more advanced belts, hydraulic systems, sensors, and microprocessors. There are also fewer moving parts than traditional automatic transmissions.

What Are the Pros of a CVT?

  • More power out of a smaller engine, for a steadier, more responsive acceleration.
  • Less effort to drive uphill on a variety of grades.
  • Adaptability to a wide range of road conditions.
  • Is lightweight, making it suitable for hybrid vehicles and improving fuel economy.

What Are the Cons of a CVT?

  • No fixed gears, removing shift points and creating a disconnect between the accelerator pedal and the engine’s RPM.
  • A CVT transmission produces less torque than a standard automatic transmission.
  • A loud droning sound can occur while the vehicle is accelerating.
  • Slipping, jerking, shuddering, and overheating are common problems. Sudden loss of acceleration is possible; repair and replacement costs are high.

Contact Hawthorne Auto Square

Our Hawthorne car dealership remains open during the coronavirus pandemic. We have enhanced our sanitizing procedures and are practicing social distancing to protect our clients and staff. Thanks to a large inventory of pre-owned cars, we can find a used vehicle that fits your needs and budget and have many popular and luxury models. Hawthorne Auto Square is the premier buy here pay here used car dealer in the area, serving customers in and around Los Angeles. Contact us at 866-707-7664 to learn more about available cars, pricing, and financing.