What is CVT?

Unscrambling the Letters

Continuously Variable Transmission. That’s what CVT stands for, although that doesn’t give much clarification to those wondering. It’s important for drivers to learn since they can expect to hear CVT a lot more as a growing number of new vehicles come with a CVT. To keep up with this trend, the ASE certified technicians at AutoStream Car Care in Columbia, Maryland, stay current on all the service and repair needs your CVT may have.

Here’s What It Means

Unlike a traditional transmission, a CVT uses two variable-width pulleys connected by a flexible belt instead of fixed gears. The driver feels only seamless acceleration instead of the expected gear shifts. One pulley connects to the wheels, while the other connects to the engine. This allows the transmission to change the width of the pulleys as needed according to the necessary amount of power. As one pulley widens, the other narrows, allowing for as many gear ratios as needed between the lowest and highest gears.

In contrast, a traditional transmission has a fixed number of gears. Both types must keep the engine in a safe rpm range while it connects the car’s engine to its wheels. The advantage of the pulley system is its ability to accelerate seamlessly while maintaining plenty of strength. There is another type CVT that operates using rollers and discs, but it is less common.

The Positives and Negatives

One advantage of a CVT is that it has the ability to maximize the power of a small engine such that it can accelerate quickly. Interesting, because most CVT’s are found in the smaller, four-cylinder motors. It also gets rid of those odd-feeling shifts that occur with a traditional transmission when you suddenly accelerate to pass another vehicle or when you put a strain on the car while climbing a hill. A CVT also weighs less than its counterpart, so it is a good feature for a hybrid vehicle. In contrast, some people find the odd humming sound made by many of the cars equipped with CVT to be annoying. Those who love driving and the feel of the car’s mechanics report missing the shifts. There are also a number of complaints about the CVT, including overheating, slipping, and loss of acceleration. If you think your vehicle may be experiencing one of these issues, talk to the service and repair experts at AutoStream Car Care in Columbia, Maryland.

Written by Doug Grills

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