What Is A CVT Gearbox?

CVT gearboxes are a variation of single-speed automatic gearboxes. Instead of having multiple gears,, they have ‘one gear’ that keeps the RPM level consistent, even when you’re accelerating. A CVT gearbox will find the optimal engine speed for you, once you put your foot on the pedal. The engine speed remains steady no matter what speed you’re going – making it well suited towards a relaxed driving style.

What Does CVT Stand For?

The term CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission. The gearbox is usually fitted within smaller makes of cars such as Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas. While Nissan commissions their CVT gearboxes from JATCO, a Japanese company that supplies 49% of the world’s gear-free transmissions, Audi, Honda, Hyundai, Subaru, and Toyota all make their own versions of the classic CVT gearbox.

CVT Gearbox Advantages

Some CVT gearbox advantages include:

  • Optimal torque – due to the lack of gears, a CVT gearbox can find the ‘perfect gear’ for any speed and terrain and is much smoother in its acceleration.
  • Economical – a CVT gearbox is lighter in weight than a traditional automatic and, when combined with its effortless operation, offers drivers a better fuel economy, especially when avoiding higher engine speeds that guzzle fuel.
  • Reliable – requiring minimal parts to be operated means that the CVT gearbox is less likely to break, offering more reliability. These gearboxes are also largely used in lower-power and unstressed vehicles, extending their shelf life. 

CVT Gearbox Problems

Some common CVT gearbox problems include: 

  • Less engaging experience – while many deem the lack of gears to be an advantage, those who prefer a sportier driving experience may find a car with a CVT gearbox less pleasurable to drive.
  • Expensive to repair – when compared to a traditional automatic, CVTs can become expensive to repair, partly because maintenance will require a specially trained mechanic.
  • Noisy acceleration – during acceleration, the CVT forces the engine to run at the optimal engine speed, resulting in a loud droning noise that some may find irritating.

What Is The Difference Between A CVT Gearbox And An Automatic Gearbox?

In a similar fashion to an automatic gearbox, a CVT gearbox requires no input from the driver. However, where an automatic has shifting gears, a CVT gearbox works on a system of two pulleys. One pulley is connected to the engine, the other is connected to the wheels and both are connected to each other via a flexible belt. When the vehicle requires more power, the width of the pulleys changes in response – one widens and the other shrinks, resulting in an infinite number of ‘gears’. 

The most common type of CVT gearbox is the pulley mechanism, however, you may come across two other types of CVT: the Toroidal CVT and the Hydrostatic CVT. The  Toroidal CVT employs rotating discs and power rollers which result in the same outcome as the pulley-mechanism of the traditional CVT. These can be found in car manufacturers such as Nissan. The Hydrostatic CVT, also known as Hydraulic CVT, utilises variable displacement pumps and a hydraulic motor that circulate fluid, producing rotational movement.

CVT Gearbox Repairs With Automatic Man

At Automatic Man our expert technicians carry out high quality and cost-effective repairs on gearboxes of all types, shapes and sizes. We have a wealth of experience in repairing CVT gearboxes, from the Toyota Corolla to the Subaru Forester. Whether you’re a petrol-head or have no real interest in cars, we promise to provide you with an honest and transparent service that will ensure you entrust us with all of your gearbox repair needs. At Automatic Man, we have over 20 years of experience in servicing, repairing and reconditioning all kinds of gearboxes, including CVTs. We offer our customers a number of services, including a complimentary automatic gearbox diagnostic session, free of charge.

If you’re interested in our CVT gearbox repair services, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. A member of our helpful team will be more than happy to answer any queries or concerns you may have. Contact us today by completing our online form, phoning 020 8740 1020 or emailing us at [email protected].  

And if you’re interested in finding out more about different types of gearboxes and their potential problems, have a look at our blog. You may find our previous post interesting, “What Is A DSG Gearbox?”.