CVT Vs Automatic Transmission - Differences, Pros & Cons

A car can come with any of the three types of transmissions. You could choose a manual transmission, which requires that the driver shift the gears manually. Or you could opt for one of the two automatic transmissions. While the conventional automatic transmission is more well-known, the CVT version is newer. What are the differences in the automatic and CVT transmissions?

To compare the automatic with the shiftless, we examine the transmission. Our guide also shows you the pros and cons of both transmission types, so you can choose the setup that’s right for you. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. What exactly is a CVT Transmission and how does it work?
  2. CVT Transmission Pros
    1. 1. For small engines, more power
    2. 2. Reactive Acceleration
    3. 3. Get rid of abrupt downshifting
    4. 4. Increased fuel economy
  3. Confirmations of CVT Transmission
    1. 1. Get rid of the connected feeling
    2. 2. Limitations on Engine Power
    3. 3. But not as durable
    4. 4. It is harder to work on
  4. What's an automatic transmission?
  5. Automated Transmission Pros
    1. 1. The Connected Driving Experience
    2. 2. Maintaining your home is less expensive
    3. 3. It can be used with any engine
  6. Convenience of Automatic Transmission
    1. 1. Increase your fuel consumption
    2. 2. Hunting for gears
  7. Which one is more reliable: the CVT or automatic transmission?

What exactly is a CVT Transmission and how does it work?

Cvt Transmission

Continuously Variable Transmission is what CVT means. You must be familiar with both the automatic and manual counterparts to fully understand their operation. The gearbox of a manual transmission has only a limited number of gears. You decide what gear your vehicle should use. Although the automatic transmission has a fixed number of gears available, the hydraulic system that comes with it adjusts for pressure to each individual gear. 

Since the driver does not need to be present for manual operation, the CVT functions like an automatic transmission. However, the CVT doesn’t contain gears. The CVT relies on two pulleys. The engine is attached to one pulley, and the wheels are connected to the other. The flexible belt connects the pulleys.

The pulley's width will change depending on how much power the vehicle needs. One pulley becomes wider, and vice versa. Because neither of these pulleys is fixed in place, there’s no limit to the gear ratios that can be created. This is different than an automatic manual transmission, which has a fixed number of gears.

But there are several other CVT designs than the traditional pulley. To achieve the same result, an uncommon Toroidal CVT employs rotating discs and power rolls. A hydrostatic CVT uses pumps to control fluid flow and rotate. 

Related: Automatic Transmissions vs Manual: Which one is better?

CVT Transmission Pros

1. For small engines, more power

Typically, a four-cylinder engine isn’t going to create the same amount of power as a larger engine could, mainly because of the size. The compact CVT design makes it possible for you to significantly increase your power.

A lot of four-cylinder models now come with CVTs. It’s the cheapest way to increase power and keep the vehicle cost down. 

2. Reactive Acceleration

A typical automatic transmission requires that the system constantly locate the right gear. However, that doesn’t happen with a CVT. 

It is necessary to shift gears. This operation can be eliminated. The result is smoother and more responsive acceleration. 

3. Get rid of abrupt downshifting

The CVT eliminates gear hunting and the downshift abruptness associated with automatic transmissions. In most cases, the change in power delivery isn’t even noticed.

When you require extra power in order to pass slower cars, this benefit can be very helpful. You can also use this benefit if you're climbing uphill and have to accelerate. 

4. Increased fuel economy

A CVT weighs much less than an automatic transmission. It is still capable of providing substantial power to the wheels. 

The lightweight design results in superior fuel economy. This fuel savings is just one reason that many of today’s hybrid models come equipped with a CVT. 

Cvt Transmission
CVT Transmission

Confirmations of CVT Transmission

1. Get rid of the connected feeling

A car equipped with a CVT has a completely different experience than an auto transmission. You will notice different sensations that some drivers don’t appreciate.

With an engine note that doesn’t change because the engine is operating at consistent speeds, it’s difficult to get a feel for the performance of the vehicle. It might take some time for the transmission's response when it is starting from an absolute standstill. This lag is caused by the adjustment of the engine and CVT before power can be sent to the car’s wheels. 

2. Limitations on Engine Power

Not all engines can have CVTs installed. The belt and pulley belts powering these transmissions limit their capabilities. It doesn't matter if it is a V-belt made of steel or heavy-duty pulleys. They can only handle very low torque applications.

There are no gears which can bite or transfer power with out slipping, unlike the automatic transmission. For this reason, you will only find CVTs installed on smaller engines that don’t create a lot of torque. 

3. But not as durable

The CVT is less reliable than other automatic transmissions. The CVT can be difficult to maintain and expensive, making it more common for people to have to completely replace their entire system if they go wrong.

Maintenance is also more expensive. You might want to replace your transmission fluid at 72,000 miles. However, a CVT comparable will need to be changed every 60,000 miles. 

4. It is harder to work on

CVT technology, which is still relatively new, has been around for a while. Although many technicians have experience with the automatic transmission, this design and its operation is quite new. 

This means that fewer mechanics are able to understand the CVT. You may not be able to find a qualified repair shop near you due to this shortfall. 

What's an automatic transmission?

Automatic Transmission

A hydraulic system and gear seats make up the automatic transmission. While the hydraulic system regulates the clutch, and the bands controlling the gear sets' settings, the pump pumps fluid through. 

Different gear circuits react to fluid forcing the valves open or close. An automatic transmission comes with a certain number of gears.

Related: 8 Signs that your Automatic Transmission is Bad

Automated Transmission Pros

1. The Connected Driving Experience

With an automatic transmission, drivers are better able to sense the difference between engine speed and vehicle speed. It’s simple to feel when the car is shifting up or when more power is needed by downshifting.

Drivers often feel more at control when shifting. This setup creates a more enjoyable driving experience.

2. Maintaining your home is less expensive

An automatic transmission needs to be serviced more frequently than an equivalent CVT. You save money by not having to make as many trips to the service centre.

The cost of repairs can also be more expensive for CVTs. It is easier for auto mechanics to understand automatic transmissions and to locate a trustworthy service center that is affordable.

3. It can be used with any engine

There are many engines that can use automatic transmissions. While it’s possible to use an automatic transmission on a smaller four-cylinder, it can also be designed for a high-performance V8 engine. 

Many automatic transmissions are available on the market. Each one is tailored to a specific need. Whether an economical car needs a cheaper six-speed automatic or a heavy-duty truck requires the use of a ten-speed automatic, there’s a design that works. 

Convenience of Automatic Transmission

1. Increase your fuel consumption

The automatic transmission will weigh significantly more than the comparable CVT. The result is a slower operation due to the added weight. 

An automatic transmission will use more fuel to drive than an engine with a CVT. This lack of efficiency also leads to higher emissions.

2. Hunting for gears

Many drivers love an automatic transmission. However, it can occasionally be irritating. It could sometimes feel as if the transmission are searching for gears.

This can be felt most frequently when the car is downshifting. The transmission may take some time to locate its position when the car climbs a steep hill. 

Which one is more reliable: the CVT or automatic transmission?

There’s no way to determine whether an automatic transmission or CVT is better because each has a purpose. The CVT is the best choice if you want a lighter, more fuel-efficient car.

However, if you desire high-power and don’t want to spend as much on maintenance, you will prefer the automatic transmission.

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