Traditional automatic transmissions have a number of gears or “speeds”. As you accelerate, the transmission starts in first gear and runs up through the gears. You hear the engine speed rise and fall as you progress through the gears. When you press down on the accelerator the transmission may kick down into a lower gear to accelerate or climb a hill, and you hear the engine speed rise.
A Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT, is a type of automatic transmission. It does not have gears or speeds, but rather its “gearing” infinitely varies up and down depending on your needs. The engine instantly speeds up to the optimal number of revolutions for power and efficiency and stays there while the CVT seamlessly adjusts to reach the speed you desire. CVT’s are very efficient and often deliver better fuel economy than their traditional counterparts.
The biggest complaint St. Thomas drivers have about CVT’s is that the driving experience is so different than what we are used to with an old-school automatic transmission. When you first press the accelerator the engine quickly revs up to optimal speed and stays there. That nonstop engine droning can become annoying. Also, drivers miss the sensation and sound of moving up through the gears. Some automobile manufacturers have programmed the vehicle control computers to simulate gear shifts and may even offer paddle “shift” options to make the CVT more engaging. Of course, that hurts the efficiency and performance the CVT is designed to deliver.
As traditional automatic transmissions are being made with more gears (8 and 9 speeds are readily available), the fuel economy and performance gap with CVT’s is closing. CVT’s have far fewer moving parts, produce less heat and are lighter than conventional automatic transmissions. CVT’s are not currently suitable for vehicles that tow and haul heavy loads. Maintenance schedules for CVT’s vary by car maker. They do require a special CVT transmission fluid. Using the incorrect fluid can ruin the CVT so always use the recommended fluid. Talk to your The Auto Guys service advisor if you are not sure.
Modern CVT’s are very efficient, durable and deliver a satisfying driving experience for St. Thomas drivers. If you have a car with a CVT, or are considering purchasing one, know that The Auto Guys can help you follow the factory recommended maintenance for the transmission along with your other maintenance and repair needs.
Stop by or give us a call.
The Auto Guys
135 South Edgeware Rd.
St. Thomas, ON N5P 4C4