Automatic transmission vs CVT: which one is better?


Posted by: Chris Odogwu

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On the surface, CVT and automatic transmissions have the same mode of operations, but there’s a difference between them. Check inside for more!

One major element to consider when buying a car, is the transmission type of the vehicle. In simple terms, transmission is simply the mode of gears via which power is transferred from the engine down to the car wheels. It dictates the speed at which your car moves.

In time past, the two transmissions available were automatic and manual. Consumer choice was limited to these two. But now, there’s an addition to the options called CVT – an advanced technology transmission also known as continuously variable transmission.

Manual transmission involves a lot of engagement during driving, and that in itself, is a distraction. Drivers need to pay a great deal of attention on the road - that explains why manual transmission is the least preferred among the options. The competition is narrowed down to automatic transmission and CVT.

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Understanding automatic transmission

As the name implies, automatic transmission controls itself automatically. The driver doesn’t have to change the gears manually to set the car in motion. It’s very popular among drivers today due to the ease it provides during driving.

Automatic transmissions make it easy for people to learn how to drive due to the limited activities required to control the car.

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Understanding continuous variable transmission (CVT)

On the surface, CVT and automatic transmissions have the same mode of operations. But there’s a difference underneath. In CVT, the car movement is controlled on a belt and pulley system. The gears in automatic transmissions are replaced by pulleys which are connected to both the car engine and wheels. CVT modulates the car speed in line with the different speed capacities of different cars, and also offers low fuel consumption.

Advantages and disadvantages of CVT

Due to its ability to change its gear ratio in line with changing speeds, the car engine is always at its best. In other words, your engine is always in good condition. It also has fewer emissions compared to automatic transmissions.

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On the down side, due to its advanced technology, CVT requires special maintenance. During servicing and repairs, it requires parts that aren’t easily accessible. In most cases, it also requires special mechanics as some of them may not be knowledgeable about fixing it.

The verdict

Having taken a look at the features and specifications of automatic and CVT transmissions, it’s up to you to decide which one you prefer.  Whichever one works best for you is fine.

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Chris Odogwu
Chris Odogwu

Chris Odogwu

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Chris Odogwu is a Content Writer and Journalist. He holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from University of Jos and a master's degree in Mass Communication from University of Lagos. His works have been published in top local and international publications including Forbes, HuffPost, ThriveGlobal, TheNextScoop and Nigeria360 among others. A member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), the thrill he gets from writing about exotic cars feels almost the same as riding in them.

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