CVT and its Advantages and Disadvantages
What is a CVT Transmission?
Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT is a type of automatic transmission. While it works like the regular automatic transmission, the key difference is that CVT does not have gears like auto transmission. Despite that, a CVT can have an infinite number of gear ratios. And its ability to continuously change the ratio regardless of the speed makes it more efficient than a regular automatic transmission.
If you are wondering why you should invest in a car with a CVT instead of a regular automatic transmission, read on to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of CVT and the common problems in CVT transmission. First, let’s take a deeper look at how CVT works.
History of CVTs
In 1989, Subaru Justy was the first car that offered Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) technology. Many automotive historians claim that CVTs were available long before Justy, like in the British car Clyno introduced in 1923 or in the DAF 600 car from 1958. Even if we accept those as early CVTs, the technology was not mass-produced at the time.
In the 90s, auto-manufacturer began developing their own CVTs with improved materials, such as advanced hydraulics, high-strength belts, and microprocessors, and high-speed sensors. A few early models of which offered CVTs were the 1992 Nissan March, the 1995 Honda Civic VTi, and Toyota 1997 Prius.
How Continuous Variable Transmission Works
In a CVT Transmission, two pulleys of variable diameters are connected to the engine and the wheel through a flexible drive belt. Both the pulleys are able to move independently and the width of the pulleys depends on how much power is needed by the vehicle. One gets larger, the other gets smaller. This constant change based on the vehicle’s power need results in a continuous change in gear ratio.
Surprisingly, the early models of CVT transmissions received complaints regarding the slipping or rubber band sensation because the transition was designed to move towards the engine’s RPM power peak and was supposed to stay there under hard acceleration. In the recent models, this problem has been fixed and now a faux-shift sensation has been added.
Moreover, some brands have come up with their own variation of CVT. For instance, Nissan has an Xtronic that replicates the feel of a regular gearbox. Toyota also has its Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) that is part of the hybrid system in its hybrid cars like the Prius. Audi is another brand with its own CVT variation called the Multitronic.
Advantages of CVT
With so many known manufacturers coming up with their own CVTs, it is clear that there are some clear benefits of the technology. Let’s take a look at these benefits to further understand how CVT makes a difference.
Maximum Power Band
A CVT transmission always keeps your car in the right gear, without you having to manage it. Contrary to other types like the traditional manual or automatic units, a CVT transmission is designed to maintain the engine’s speed square at its best powerband. This increases the performance of a car, especially when you are passing by a car on the road.
A CVT transmission offers more benefits as compared to its counterparts, especially when it comes to fuel efficiency, where it maintains the right speed at the right time. It is observed that when drivers drive at a steady speed, their tachometer reading is very low, which indicates efficiency.
In a CVT Transmission, the number of mechanical parts is less compared to a traditional planetary gear transmission. Since there is no real gear involved, a CVT box comes with adjustable pulleys that are connected via a belt. These pulleys move away or towards each other according to the speed of a car while the belt moves in between these pulleys. A simple mechanical structure ensures less wear and tear.
Compared to a traditional automatic transmission, CVTs are lighter in weight and compact in size. This has given these cars a competitive advantage over others like a reduced weight has increased the fuel efficiency many times.
In a manual transmission, you are always worried about changing gears and stepping on the clutch pedal. When you change gears in a rush, it can be very rough and you may have to struggle a little bit. This is not the case in CVT transmissions where your car can go from 0 to the maximum allowed speed in no time without any hassle
Disadvantages of CVT
For many, the sensation of the slipping clutches while the vehicle is moving through the shift points is exasperating. While it offers unlimited gear ratios, the transmission is extremely slow to respond to throttle input. Also, drivers can not even regularly check the fluid level.
Many drivers have complained about a CVT transmission engine revving when accelerated. This trait is present in almost all the CVTs, including the ones where a stepped gear is available. Many drivers do not like any extra noises in a car except for the rumble of a powerful engine.
Lack of Sportiness
The CVT transmission may be efficient with a smooth drive but it is not sport and fun to drive. A CVT transmission is incapable of handling high-torque applications which makes it hard to achieve that sporty feel. Also, the lack of upshifting and downshifting, and fixed gears makes the ride less engaging.
The running cost of a CVT transmission is low. However, once it breaks down, its maintenance can be very expensive. The mechanical parts like the drive belt wear or stretch relatively fast and are available at a very high price. The electronic equipment also tends to fail more often, which can be an additional expense.
That concludes our guide of all the advantages and disadvantages of CVT. There are many reasons to opt for a CVT transmission. As these cars are improving and better modifications are introduced from time to time. If you wish to explore cars with different transmission options, check out these used cars for sale in UAE on dubizzle.
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