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What Are the Pros and Cons of CVT?

Embark on a journey through the pros and cons of Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) in modern cars. Discover the benefits, including enhanced fuel efficiency, smooth long-distance drives, and adaptive performance. Explore the downsides, such as high maintenance costs, peculiar acceleration tones, and potential issues at higher RPMs. Arm yourself with knowledge for an informed decision when considering a vehicle with CVT, recognizing both the advantages and challenges.

  • 20 Nov 2023
  • 3 min read


One technology that's gaining widespread use is Continuously Variable Transmission. This unassuming yet impactful system, often indicated by a "+" and "-" symbol, is pivotal in modern cars, allowing seamless gear changes without the need for traditional gear shifts. Understanding the pros and cons of CVT is crucial for making informed decisions about your vehicle. We'll explore these aspects in detail, delving into the world of CVT and its impact on your driving experience.


Pros and Cons of CVT engines   

First, we will discuss the benefits of CVT:

  • Enhanced Fuel Efficiency

CVT-equipped vehicles are renowned for their superior fuel efficiency. It is especially crucial in a world where rising fuel costs are a significant concern. Many hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) employ CVTs to optimise fuel consumption.

  • Hassle-free Seamless Long-Distance Drives

CVTs operate using a belt-driven system that smoothly adjusts the rotation of the rotor disc or pulley in response to power input and the car's momentum. The result is an exceptionally smooth driving experience with no sudden jolts or jerks, which becomes especially noticeable during long-distance journeys. CVT technology ensures your engine remains calm and composed even on extended drives.

  • Desired Power All the Time

Unlike traditional gearboxes with fixed gear ratios, CVTs offer an array of infinite gear ratios. This feature leads to rapid and responsive acceleration. You can enjoy a powerful surge without worrying about gear shifting when tackling uphill terrains. It proves exceptionally advantageous on highways, where your car effortlessly attains cruising speeds.

  • Fewer Parts and Lighter Weight

CVTs simplify the shifting process, resulting in fewer components needed for manufacturing. Hence, in turn, lower maintenance costs and a decreased likelihood of mechanical failures due to the reduced number of parts. Additionally, the absence of gear requirements contributes to a lighter engine, directly enhancing fuel efficiency.


  • Adaptive to Driving Conditions

CVTs can quickly adapt to various driving conditions. Whether you are navigating through city traffic or coasting on a highway, the CVT adjusts gear ratios in real-time based on your acceleration and driving demands. This adaptability ensures optimum engine performance, irrespective of the driving scenario.


  • Reduced Wear and Tear

Since CVTs operate without the abrupt gear changes seen in traditional transmissions, there's less wear and tear on the engine and transmission components over time. The constant and smooth adjustment of gear ratios means the engine doesn't experience sudden load changes, which can extend the vehicle's lifespan.



Now, let us check the cons of CVT:


  • High Maintenance Costs

CVT engines require specialised oil that cannot be mixed with regular transmission fluids. In conventional engines, oil is primarily used for lubrication, while in CVTs, it secures components and prevents slippage. This unique requirement significantly raises maintenance costs compared to traditional transmissions.

  • Peculiar Acceleration Tone

Drivers of CVT-equipped cars may notice a distinctive sound during acceleration, often referred to as the "rubber band effect." This phenomenon results from the belts' continuous contraction and expansion within the CVT unit. While this sound doesn't significantly affect power delivery, it creates a non-linear and atypical acceleration sound compared to other transmission types.

  • Costly Repairs

CVTs have a higher likelihood of failure than conventional transmissions. Generally, CVTs are considered reliable up to around 80,000 to 90,000 kilometres. Beyond this point, the CVT belt begins to wear and deteriorate. As a result, car manufacturers often opt to replace the entire transmission system, leading to substantial repair expenses.

  • Issues at Higher RPMs

While CVTs offer a wide range of gear ratios, they require careful monitoring at higher RPMs to prevent the vehicle from entering the danger zone. In certain situations, the CVT unit may incorrectly interpret input and unnecessarily rev the engine to a higher gear, potentially causing performance issues. It necessitates attentive driving and engine management at higher speeds.


  • Limited Engine Feel

Some driving enthusiasts prefer the tangible sensation of gear shifts, which CVTs lack. This continuous transition between gear ratios often leads to a feeling of detachment from the driving experience.


  • Heat Sensitivity

CVTs are known to be sensitive to high temperatures. Continuous driving under demanding conditions, like towing or driving in hilly terrains, can cause the CVT to overheat.

Also read:


Now that you're well-informed about the pros and cons of Continuously Variable Transmission, you can make a more educated decision when selecting a vehicle. Purchasing a car is a significant investment that requires thorough research. If you feel comfortable with CVT technology, you can consider vehicles that feature it. When buying a car, don't overlook the importance of the right car insurance plan, which safeguards your vehicle on the roads. Tata AIG offers comprehensive four-wheeler insurance plans that you can compare and choose online to ensure your car's protection.

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