Continuously Variable Transmission

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Continuously Variable Transmission

What Does CVT Stand For?

There are two most common types of transmissions that the majority of vehicles comprise: manual transmission and automatic transmission. However, as early as the 1980s, another type of transmission came into being, which was very scarcely used in vehicles at the time but has gained some momentum since. It is known as a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

How Does a CVT Transmission Work?

While automatic and manual transmission both have a complex system for changing of gears, CVT is unique in that it uses a simple pulley system to switch between the gears. A chain belt connects certain cones in this system; one of the cones is attached to the engine of the vehicle and the other is connected to the wheels of the vehicle. The diameter of the chain belt varies and changes the rotations per minute of the wheels upon varying the gears of the vehicle. As one of the cones increases in diameter, the other one decreases, resulting in a quick and smooth change of gears. As the diameter of the cones changes on each step, there is a separate gear on each diameter.

Once the speed of the vehicle increases, the chain belt in the engine moves toward an increasing diameter. Simultaneously, as an inverse effect, the chain belt of the wheels moves to a decreased diameter. Now the rotations on the chain belt have not changed, but the speed has changed. This is because, at a lower diameter, the rotations of the cone connected to the wheels have more rpm. So, the gears in this type of transmission can change without changing the rotation of the chain belt.

Due to many different combinations of the diameters of the cones at a certain time, there are an infinite number of gears (whereas, in other types of transmission, there are discrete steps and shifts). This type of transmission changes gears at each and every change in the speed of the vehicle. As for the reverse gear, this transmission uses the rotation of the cone, connected to the engine, in the opposite direction. The speed of the reverse gears varies the same as when the vehicle is moving forward.

Advantages of CVT

CVT, being a relatively newer transmission for the vehicle, has brought many advantages to the table that simply lack in automatic and manual transmission. Recently, there have been companies that have been coming up with their own unique and improved version of CVT.

Self Gear Adjustment

Unlike manual transmission vehicles in which you must change the gear of the vehicle yourself, CVT changes the gears itself. In conventional transmissions, a gear is assigned to a range of speeds; however, the CVT has a specific powerband for each speed.

Increases Fuel Efficiency

Not only does the CVT increase the performance of the vehicle, but it increases fuel efficiency, too, by providing the perfect powerband for each speed. This will not put more strain on the engine of the vehicle than is needed.

Uncomplicated Structure

The structure of the CVT transmission is very simple and easy to understand. It assists the driver in pointing out the problems easily and fixing them themselves. Also, the simple mechanical nature of working of this transmission offers far less wear and tear compared to the traditional transmissions.

Swift Drive

Manual transmission can be tiring, as you have to change the gears every now and then. Moreover, when in a rush, the manual transmission could be a real nuisance. However, in CVT the gear changes on its own without any hesitation in driving. So, this self-gear changing on every step keeps the vehicle running at optimum powerband, offering a swift drive.

Disadvantages of CVT

CVT was invented in order to offer a smoother driving experience. However, despite its simple and useful model, this transmission does have certain shortcomings.

Late Response

The CVT offers the driver an unlimited number of gears; however, this comes with a drawback. Due to the unlimited number of gears, the engine responds slowly to the gear changes.

Noise Production

Many of the drivers driving a CVT engine vehicle have complained about the noisy operation of the system, produced every time the vehicle is accelerated. This revving noise is present in almost every vehicle with a CVT.

Costly Maintenance

A CVT engine requires very little cost to run, however, once it breaks down, reparation can be a costly endeavor, as all the engine parts are relatively expensive.

CVT vs Automatic Transmission

Both CVT and automatic transmission have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it's important to know the difference between the two before deciding on which type of transmission is right for you.

CVT, or continuously variable transmission, is a newer type of transmission that offers better fuel economy and a smoother ride. However, CVT transmissions can be more expensive to repair and may not be available in all vehicle models.

Automatic transmissions are the more traditional type of transmission, and while they don't offer quite as many benefits as CVT transmissions, they're typically less expensive to repair. Automatic transmissions are also generally more widely available than CVT transmissions.

Advantages of Automatic Transmission

An automatic transmission is a type of motor vehicle transmission that can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually. Automatic transmission has many advantages over CVT including better fuel economy, stronger acceleration, and easier maintenance.

Its main advantage, however, is better fuel economy. This is because an automatic transmission can efficiently match the engine speed to the road speed, while a CVT tends to allow the engine to rev higher than necessary. In addition, an automatic transmission typically has more gears than a CVT, which means it can better take advantage of the engine's powerband and keep the engine operating in its most efficient range. Finally, automated transmissions are generally simpler and easier to maintain than CVTs.

Disadvantages of Automatic Transmission

While automatic transmission is the norm in many vehicles, CVT offers a number of advantages over traditional transmissions.

One advantage is that CVT can improve fuel economy by 10 to 15 percent compared to automatic transmission. This is because CVT can keep the engine operating at peak efficiency, unlike autos. The lack of shifting also means that there is less wear and tear on the engine and transmission.

CVT also offers better acceleration than an automatic transmission, since there are no gears to shift through. This means that the engine can always be operating at its optimum power level. Because of this, CVTs often provide a smoother ride than automatics, since there are no gear changes that can cause jerking or lurching.

Which Is Better: CVT or Automatic Transmission

In spite of a CVT's potential to shift gears without stopping, it often provides better fuel economy when driving in urban environments.

CVT is commonly associated with a smoother ride than a regular automatic, due to the fact that it doesn't hunt the gear ratio. There are no sudden downshifts when the car needs more power, and there is no feeling of hunting the gear ratio that you sometimes sense when driving a traditional auto.

CVT is also a little lighter than automatics, and as a result — in addition to their smoother operation — the fuel efficiency of vehicles that are equipped with CVT is higher than with automatic cars.

CVT drivetrains have fewer mechanical gears that are hard to change, making acceleration and hill-climbing much easier on CVT vehicles. CVT makes stopping at the stoplight and climbing difficult terrain much easier since it does not have trouble maintaining the ideal torque ratio.


In conclusion, it is clear that CVT has many benefits over automatic transmission. CVT is more efficient, provides better fuel economy, and gives the driver more control over the vehicle. Automatic transmission is less expensive and easier to maintain, but it does not offer the same level of performance or efficiency as CVT.