If you buy a new car, there is a very good likelihood that it will have a continuously variable transmission (CVT) rather than a standard automatic transmission (AT). Some sport vehicles and trucks may still offer manual transmissions, but that’s a different story. In this article, we want to explain the primary differences between automatic and CVT transmissions, so you can be better informed as a vehicle owner.

How Long Have CVTs Been Around?

Continuously variable transmissions have been used by auto manufacturers since the mid-1990s, especially as hybrid vehicles and other fuel-saving technology evolved. CVT transmissions don’t use a traditional gear box like standard automatic or manual transmissions. This means the gear ratios are unlimited and the vehicle is, in theory, always operating at maximum efficiency. As a driver, you don’t feel the shifts and acceleration/deceleration is much, much smoother.

Some of the advantages of a continuously variable transmission include:

            • Fuel Efficiency

            • Smoother Drive (Stepless Shifting)

            • Optimized Engine Power

Cons of Continuously Variable Transmissions

Unfortunately, some of the early CVT designs are prone to problems over time, and additional maintenance/repairs are often required. And of course, the more complex the system, the more complicated the repairs can be. Early problems with CVT designs have given these types of transmissions a bad reputation. However, the good news is that CVT technology has gotten really effective as components have been refined over the years. This is why so many vehicle manufacturers are using them in their current and future vehicle designs. The technology will only get better.

Older CVT transmissions may experience problems and it takes a transmission repair expert to identify the problems and recommend the repairs. All transmissions require regular maintenance, especially when it comes to cleaning the transmission pan and changing out the transmission fluid, gasket and filter periodically to maintain optimal performance.

Using the Proper Fluid for Your Transmission

It is very important to know that CVT transmissions use a different type of transmission fluid compared to standard automatic or manual transmissions. If CVT fluid is not installed, you will likely encounter significant transmission problems over time. This is mistake we see often at Ralph’s Transmission when another mechanic has unwittingly put regular automatic transmission fluid in a CVT transmission and it leads to performance issues. In some cases, it can actually damage the transmission beyond repair if not replaced as soon as possible.

Whether you have a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a standard automatic/manual transmission, you need service and repairs from a transmission specialist who will get the job done right. For all your transmission needs in the Central Valley, call Ralph’s Transmission in downtown Modesto at 209.526.1909 or schedule your next service appointment online.