Continuously Variable Transmissions: What Differentiates Them

When it comes to picking a new car, you’re going to have some preferences on size, features, trunk space, etc. One of biggest choices you have to make is what kind of transmission you’d like your vehicle to have. In recent years automatic transmissions have largely overtaken manuals in popularity, but there are now two types of automatic transmissions. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a new, popular kind of automatic transmission that you could benefit from knowing about.

Automatic transmissions became the most chosen transmission type because it tends to be easier to learn to drive them. This is because they alter the gear ratios between the engine and the drive wheels automatically, unlike manual transmissions which require the driver to physically do so. The CVT is a simpler version than the standard automatic transmission for a variety of reasons. Standard automatics alter gear ratios by way of clutches and gears that apply or release different components in the transmission. CVT’s, on the other hand, use two pulleys with a special belt running between. As the pulleys open and close one another, they keep the belt tight, allowing it to move in and out. The gear ratios are altered by the belt changing position in relation to the center of the pulleys.

The two transmission types are similar in the fact that they alter gear ratios automatically, however you will feel a difference driving a CVT. Accelerating in a CVT will raise the RPM for a brief amount of time but will eventually stop rising and remain constant even though the vehicle continues to accelerate. This can feel off-putting, as a standard automatic transmission’s RPM will continue to rise if the car is accelerating. However, CVT’s do not have as much power as standard automatic transmissions right now. For this reason, they are usually only used in smaller cars.

Knowledgeable transmission specialists can help you understand your specific transmission better, which can help you take care of it. If you’re already experiencing transmission problems with your current vehicle, TransOMatic of Des Plaines can help with our transmission diagnostic service in Des Plaines, IL. Visit us online for more information.