What is a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)?

February 20th, 2017 by

2017 Chevy SS Black

More and more cars have continuously variable transmissions these days to help save gas, but did you know that the design dates back to Leonardo DaVinci and the 15th century? It’s true! The continuously variable transmission, or CVT, is a type of automatic transmission that provides almost limitless gear ratios. That allows it to provide more useable power, better fuel economy and a smoother driving experience than a traditional automatic transmission.

How Does a CVT Work?

Conventional automatic transmissions use a set of gears to provide different drive ratios. The high gears are good for high speeds and the low gears work best for low speeds. The CVT replaces the gears with two variable-diameter pulleys, each shaped like a pair of opposing cones, with a metal belt or chain running between them. One pulley is connected to the engine and the other is attached to the drive wheels. Changing the diameter of the pulleys varies the transmission ratio. You can think about a bicycle chain moving up and down the gears. It works the same way. You start out in a low gear so that the engine can get you up to speed, and as you go faster the transmission moves into a higher gear so that the engine can run more slowly and more efficiently.

Luckily a continuously variable transmission doesn’t require any fancy maneuvering on your part. It will work like a traditional automatic transmission in practice. Some CVTs do have a manual shift control option that lets you shift sequentially through a set of simulated gears or pre-set gear ratios. This just gives you a little more control to pick the ratio you want—this allows you to shift down for quick acceleration or to help slow you down when you’re driving down a steep grade, much like a manual transmission.

Visit Chevrolet of Homewood Today

You can come check out the latest models equipped with a continuously variable transmission here at Chevrolet of Homewood. We’re also happy to check out your current transmission to make sure it’s working appropriately. Visit us at 18033 S. Halsted St. in Homewood, IL to take care of all of your maintenance and service, or schedule service online now.

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