Common Symptoms of CVT Failure
Automotive transmissions are no longer limited to traditional automatic and manual systems. There are now options that work on different principles based on different mechanisms. Continuously Variable Transmission – CVT transmission is one of such options commonly found in many newer cars. But, before you drive off your car equipped with CVT transmission, you must be aware of the common symptoms of CVT failure.
CVT is an automatic transmission that does not have fixed gear ratios, rather it seamlessly switches through an infinite number of gear ratios when adjusting different driving styles. The CVT transmission is also known as a shiftless and single-speed transmission since it allows swift gear changes without any hard shifts.
Like any other transmission, CVT is also prone to issues and failure. In order to understand what can go wrong with a CVT, it helps to understand its construction and working first.
Working of CVT
A CVT transmission uses a pulley system, with two opposing cones connected with a chain or belt. The setup operates similarly to that of bicycle gears. In the drivetrain, one cone of this car transmission system is connected to the engine output shaft, whereas, the other cone transmits power to the drive wheels and driveshaft.
As the chain or belt moves between the two cones’ sides, the gear ratio changes. This process changes the diameter of the chain or belt, thereby, altering the gear ratio based on the required power for acceleration. These changes happen seamlessly as the car continues to move.
CVT Failure Symptoms
Although the CVT gearbox has lesser components and a simpler design than other types of transmission, there are some common CVT transmission problems. In case you are planning to get a modern vehicle with a CVT gearbox, then you must be well aware of the symptoms of CVT failure.
Overheating can occur due to the continuous change of gear ratios that is achieved by the operation of the two pulley systems. Moreover, a damaged cooling system can also result in overheating. One of the common symptoms of overheating is a burning smell in the car.
CVT transmissions can not work without the transmission fluid. If your car is leaking a red-coloured fluid with a sweet smell then it is an indicator of issues with the CVT transmission fluid. Shortness of car transmission fluid can result in result in component damage leading to issues like delayed motion, and issues with preset points.
CVT engine issues can also occur due to transmission fluid contamination. Contamination of transmission fluid with dirt can affect the car’s performance. It causes the car to surge, lurch, shake, and jump for no reason.
A common symptom of CVT failure is the strange noise coming from the car even in neutral mode. This might be an indication of mechanical wear and tear of transmission components or a shortage of transmission fluid.
Sudden Loss of Acceleration
Although CVT transmissions are known for their smooth acceleration when the paddle is pressed down, however, a CVT transmission might fail to accelerate or take longer than usual when the system gets overheated.
If your gears are slipping when driving then it is another indicator of CVT problems.
Check Engine Light
If your car’s check engine light turns on then it can indicate major or minor CVT transmission problems.
Other common symptoms of CVT failure include shifting lag and fluctuation in engine revs.
Pros and Cons of CVT Transmission
Knowing the pros and cons of CVT transmission can help car enthusiasts understand how they can benefit from this technological advancement.
- Greater fuel economy: CVT transmission increases fuel economy to a greater extent. While hybrid cars use CVT transmission for fuel efficiency, many other modern cars are now also equipped with CVT transmission to improve mileage.
- Smooth acceleration: CVT transmission allows the seamless switch of gear ratios immediately to accommodate different driving styles and to match the required acceleration.
- Consistent performance: The term ‘shiftless’ transmission has been given to CVT transmission since there are no hard shift points while using CVT transmission. Such transmission delivers consistent performance without any sudden loss of acceleration which is common with manual and automatic transmissions.
- Noise pollution: One of the cons of CVT transmission is that it is much louder than a manual transmission. The constant droning upon hard acceleration might contribute to a less comfortable ride for some drivers.
- Lack of character: The seamless shift of gears might feel like a bland driving experience for some.
- Repair cost increases: CVT transmissions are costly to fix and do not last long as compared to automatic transmissions.
- Lack of high-performance: While CVT transmissions offer smooth acceleration on daily drives, they are not capable of sustaining high speeds and managing high horsepower, therefore, not used in sports cars.
Nevertheless, car manufacturers like Nissan, Honda, Toyota, and Audi are working to eliminate the problems of CVT transmission and improve its performance. However, to enhance the lifespan of CVT transmission it is necessary to stick to the car maintenance schedule.
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Stay tuned to the UAE’s popular auto blog, if you find this guide informative.