Are CVT transmissions reliable in a long term?


Posted by: Jane Osuagwu

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If you are looking to buy a CVT car to have a better fuel mileage, then read this article to know if the CVT will last long.

 CVT (continuously variable transmission) also called a single-speed transmission, is an automatic transmission capable of changing seamlessly through some set of gear ratios. It’s different from other mechanical transmissions as the number of gear ratios offered by the mechanical transmissions is fixed. The CVT provides a better fuel economy and useable power. 

There has been much concern about the durability of the CVT because of some issues that happened in the past, in some of the Jeep and Nissan models. So, the question is, are CVT transmissions reliable in a long term?

A CVT transmission

A CVT (continuously variable transmission) is a single-speed transmission will be glad to help you answer the question, especially if you intend to buy a CVT car.

1. Are CVT transmissions reliable in a long term?

Famous brands like Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Subaru have used many versions of the CVT transmission in a number of their designs. The concern about the longevity of the CVT transmission began after their first generation mode developed several issues. The lineups of Nissan produced by JATCO, its subsidiary, faced some serious problems. Jeep was not exempted as it had problems in their compass model and with others too.

The CVT transmission

The CVT provides a better fuel economy and useable power

2. What is the CVTs weakest point?

Owing to the fact that the CVT is still a new technology among the most popular 4, its mechanical structure is yet to be sophisticated and perfect. The CVT has a steel chain that is about an inch wide which serves as the channel through which power from the engine is transferred to other parts of the car. Peradventure the chain breaks down, the transmission won't function again.
When the CVT steel chain fails, it breaks into pieces and the shrapnel litters everywhere. You don't experience this with a traditional automatic transmission when it fails. What you get to see is a cracked sun shell or burnt out clutches, worn out valves, and not a messy metal shrapnel. And again, the CVT transmission doesn't have much servicing shops for repair and rebuild.

>>> Read more: Automatic transmission vs CVT: which one is better?

3. Which of the CVT transmission brands is the most reliable?

Among all of the CVT lineups, the Honda model happens to be the most reliable. However, other manufacturers are also working tenaciously to bolster the technology.

The front of a Honda

Honda is best at making the CVT transmission

4. How do you increase the lifespan of the CVT transmission?

If you are asking, will the CVT last long? It's a yes.
A CVT transmission can last for as long as five years and even more if you are able to take good care of it. Although the CVT is a new technology with the manufacturers making continuous improvement, however, if you can maintain the CVT properly, it will last for a long time.
Follow these steps to increase the CVTs lifespan.

  • You are required to change the transmission fluid every 30,000 kilometers. The chain or belt requires a fresh clean oil to enable it to function properly. This is essential as it transfers power from the engine to other parts of the car. The frequency at which the oil should be changed is dependent on the climate and environment of the location the car is driven. If your area is hot and dusty, then make sure the frequency is more than what the manufacturers recommend in the manual book.
  • Many CVT transmissions are not suitable for high-powered engines because they don't have a strong chain and the right design to handle such engines. CVT works better on small cars and small engines.
  • Do a regular inspection of your car. Go to an experienced and trusted mechanic for it.

The rear end of a white car

Proper self-maintenance that's easy to do can extend the lifespan of the CVT transmission

As mentioned earlier, the CVT provides a better fuel economy. It also has other advantages like steady acceleration, able to adjust to different road conditions, smooth operation and a reduced manufacturing cost. However, all of these benefits are not equally enjoyed by all the models.
For instance, the Honda Accord and Civic don't experience the rubber band feeling (occurs when the revolution per minute is high) because they have a responsive and well-programmed handling.

Video: Should You Buy a CVT Transmission Car (How It Works)

>>> Discover more handy maintenance tips and advice for cars on

Jane Osuagwu
Jane Osuagwu

Jane Osuagwu

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Jane Osuagwu is an automotive writer at She's a car enthusiast who loves creating educative and informative topics on cars, ranging from maintenance tips to updates on the latest trend in the auto industry in concise and friendly writing. 

Jane is also a blogger and loves reading, inspiring people and getting involved in personal development projects.

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