Mech4cars.com – Can we rely on CVT Transmission? – Today many car models ranging from small cars such as the Toyota Wigo, Nissan Sunny and Honda City to high chassis models such as the Toyota Corolla Cross, Honda HR-V, or the 7-seater Mitsubishi Outlander all use CVT transmissions. Not only the cars and brands that I mentioned use CVT transmissions. We can say that almost all car manufacturers that produce passenger (private) cars use CVT transmissions. If we see the ‘enthusiasm’ of the world’s automotive manufacturers, of course, it raises questions in our minds. Why do manufacturers all use CVT transmissions for brand cars? Can we rely on the CVT transmission as many drivers might think? We will describe all questions regarding transmission doubts in this article.
What Kind of Transmission is a CVT?
Before people study and find out why manufacturers use CVT transmissions, of course, people want to get to know CVT transmissions. CVT transmission, we also call it “Continuously Variable Transmission”. The CVT transmission has no gears. In other words, the CVT transmission is much simpler to operate than the manual transmission and AT (Automatic Transmission) automatic transmission. A CVT transmission usually operates on a pulley and belt system which allows continuous changeover. It can be seen that the CVT takes a very different approach to set up the engine when compared to a conventional automatic transmission. The CVT transmission structure consists of three main components: a metal or rubber transmission belt, a variable input pulley system that is attached to the motor shaft, and an output pulley system that leads to the wheels.
When a car with a CVT is moving, the transmission adapts to the engine at the most efficient RPM through the entire acceleration process. Those of us who are in the car will not feel the shift of ‘gears’ when there is acceleration. This is much different from the usual automatic transmission where we will definitely feel the gear shift when there is acceleration. By now most auto brands have refined and improved CVTs to the point where performance is smooth enough that the average consumer likely won’t be able to tell the difference between a CVT transmission and a conventional automatic transmission.
Symbols On CVT Transmission
Cars with CVT transmissions are generally similar from one make and type of vehicle to another. It’s just that there are certain additions that are additional innovations from the car manufacturer. Therefore, we will divide the common symbols and additional symbols as follows.
Common Symbols on CVT Transmission;
If we look at a conventional automatic transmission, obviously we will see a gear symbol there, for example, R, 2, 3, and so on. However, the CVT transmission has several symbols similar to AT (automatic transmission), which means the following:
- Q: stop/park mode. We will only operate this mode only when the vehicle is completely stopped.
- R: reverse mode. We will only operate this mode when we want to move backward.
- N: Neutral or free spin mode.
- D: Driving mode. Most often we use it when we want the car to move forward.
Some other symbols on the CVT gearbox;
- M+/-: manual mode. Something that can be the main attraction of a car with a CVT transmission. It’s called a CVT transmission but there’s a manual mode, of course, it’s interesting, isn’t it? In fact, it’s a virtual [not really manual] gear. Manufacturers usually prepare this additional mode for drivers who like a sporty driving feel, this mode shifts gears completely manually.
- S+/-: sport driving mode. This mode is similar to the M+/- mode. However, the driving sensation is more enjoyable than the M+/- model for some drivers.
- L: low ‘gear’ mode. This model improves vehicle braking. The driver will activate the mode when loading goods, transporting heavy goods, or climbing/descending hills
Why CVT Transmission?
So far we have discussed the CVT transmission in general and the main symbols and additional symbols on cars that use this transmission model. Now is the time for us to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of CVT transmission. This is to answer our doubts about the reasons for the world’s automotive manufacturers are flocking to use CVT transmissions in their new cars.
Finally, the question arises why do many automakers switch to CTV? Is CVT transmission better than any automatic transmission so far? Our answer is “Yes” even though at the beginning of the appearance of the transmission there were deficiencies here and there. In addition to the obvious advantages of this type of transmission, there are also some disadvantages if we compare it with other automatic transmissions. Therefore we will discuss more deeply the advantages and disadvantages of CTV transmission.
What are the advantages of using a CVT transmission?
As far as we have observed from CVT transmissions, they have several advantages. There are lots of things that actually benefit from the presence of the current CVT transmission. However, of all these advantages, we find three main advantages of CVT transmission in the following varieties.
The CVT transmission has an important main value compared to other types of transmission, which is related to the ability to optimize kinetic energy for the car. The researchers designed the CVT transmission with the aim of helping the engine maintain a constant speed with the kinetic energy it generates. With this design, the CVT transmission will be most suitable for driving on the highway at a steady speed. With such road conditions, we will find our vehicles offer better fuel economy than any other type of transmission in a car. Using a CVT transmission with the Cruise Control system in our cars will have the effect of increasing the car’s fuel economy. However, there are conditions that come with it, that is, we have to control the car smoothly and avoid sudden throttles.
Total Vehicle Weight Reduced
Due to the simplicity of the CVT transmission concept it has a simple structure. Of course, this leads to fewer components inside. The CVT transmission does not have physical gears like automatic and manual transmissions. This type of transmission uses only a belt and pulley system to shift steadily through constant gear ratios. The design makes it light and compact and suitable for smaller vehicles. With a small number of components, the weight of the CVT transmission is much lighter than the manual transmission and AT transmission. Thus, the total weight of the vehicle is also reduced.
The CVT transmission structure allows a vehicle to accelerate very well, without stopping, from a standstill to reaching the speed we want. This feature helps stop “shift-shock” when changing gears in a manual transmission. In the absence of a “shift shock”, the CVT can provide smoother movement of the vehicle. The CVT transmission is always able to adjust the engine speed at any time, thus keeping the engine RPM low and consistent. In addition, the CVT structure can also avoid high engine speed that sucks up gasoline.
We take the example of the Toyota Vios Series. They use a CVT transmission with rpm from 1,300 to 1,400 rpm. The comparison that we can take from the previous version which uses a 4-speed automatic transmission with rpm up to 2,000 rpm. With a smaller rpm, the engine also runs smoother. The transmission function has only a few steps, so maintenance and repair are also easier. Due to less gear manipulation as in traditional manual transmission, CVT automatic transmission provides a more stable and comfortable driving experience.
What are the disadvantages of CTV transmission?
No technology is 100% perfect, there are no weaknesses or defects. That also applies to CVT transmission. In addition to the undeniable advantages of CVT transmission, this transmission has several disadvantages if we compare it to manual or automatic transmissions because it uses pulleys instead of traditional gears. There are some obvious downsides to CVT that many people have noted over the last few years. Here are some of the main disadvantages of CVT transmission.
The first drawback of CVT transmission is that it makes a lot of noise. Noise does not only occur when accelerating, but noise also occurs when driving at high revs. This condition does not depend on whether the car has a manual gear shift simulation or not. In fact, the driver will only receive additional noise when they use only powerful engines. CVT transmissions have a tendency to hang at high rpm, which causes the engine to run wild when accelerating.
The second weakness of the CVT transmission is that the vehicle’s carrying capacity is low. Unlike the conventional transmission that gives the impression of sportiness and power. Vehicles with CVT transmission are identical to cars that have small engines. Instead of being powerful, cars with CVT transmissions tend to prioritize the practicality of the vehicle itself. Because in design CVT transmissions are not yet able to handle high torque, they have poor load capacity and a certain throttle delay. And unfortunately for some people, this is a bad thing.
Poor acceleration ability
The third weakness of the CVT transmission is that the vehicle’s acceleration ability is poor. In CVT transmissions, the belt load capacity is the limit for the power range and cannot withstand high torques. Since the belt drives the CVT transmission and not the gears, it can slip under high torque conditions. Therefore, the CVT transmission is not suitable for sports cars that use large capacities with high acceleration.
Expensive repair costs
This drawback is only for those who really have a car for mobility. But for the four-wheeled hobbyist who is currently in the mechanical world, this does not seem to apply. What are the drawbacks? The answer: the cost of repairing the CVT transmission is expensive. While maintenance is inexpensive, repairs can be more expensive than traditional transmissions. They need to change the oil earlier, we also have to change the transmission belt after 50,000 km.
Can we rely on CVT Transmission?
In terms of the superiority of the CVT transmission, we can’t doubt it anymore because this transmission is indeed extraordinary. And because of that, today’s new cars almost all use CVT transmissions. But once again, can we rely on the CVT transmission? The CVT transmission has relatively high durability. According to the car manufacturer’s recommendations, we only need to replace the transmission every 50,000 – 100,000 km. Also, we need to change the transmission oil after 40,000 km for the first time and after 25,000 km for the second time. If we maintain it carefully and regularly, CVT transmissions can last up to 5 years. The structure and principle of operation of the CVT transmission are quite simple. Therefore, during its operation, the CVT transmission rarely encounters technical problems. So from a clear advantage, we can rely on the CVT transmission.
This will be different from the view that takes from the side of weakness. If we want a car that can carry a lot of load with high torque and is quiet, then this is clearly impossible for us to rely on. The CVT transmission is not possible to fulfill these things at this time. So with these goals, you should choose a vehicle with an ordinary automatic transmission or use a manual transmission.
Final View – Can we rely on CVT Transmission?
Based on the discussion above, we can conclude the following points;
- If we want a smooth driving experience, and focus on fuel economy, cost and durability then the CVT transmission provides the answer.
- But if torque and acceleration are what we want in a car then obviously the choice of transmission falls on a manual transmission or at least an ordinary automatic transmission.
Thus, it is clear that whether we can rely on the CVT transmission really depends on the function and focus of each driver.