The scorn of many car enthusiasts often gets laid upon the rise of the CVT transmission and the slow but consistent demise of the manual gearbox. While CVTs definitely have their drawbacks, they shouldn’t be so quickly written off. In fact, CVTs offer some serious positives, including good efficiency, an overall smooth power delivery and low manufacturing costs. Those savings are then passed on to the consumer.

When deciding what type of transmission you should buy in your car, it’s important to look at both sides. CVTs aren’t perfect. They’re loud, feel unnatural if you’re used to a car that shifts gears and aren’t as good for towing a trailer. What you need to do is think about how you use your car and then go from there.

Know What You Need and Want

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Don’t skip the CVT just because you’ve heard a few bad things. If you don’t do much spirited driving or tow a very large trailer, a CVT may be the best option for you. If you’re primarily using your car as a commuter vehicle, chances are, the CVT found in most small cars and many crossovers will do just fine.

Your needs take precedence over your wants. Many people want a fast and sporty car, but few people really need that kind of car. Most are fine to buzz around in a moderatly powered car with a CVT transmission. If you have the money to take care of both your wants and needs, then, by all means, get whatever car you want. Just don’t let the fact that a CVT transmits power from the engine to the wheels dissuade you from buying an otherwise perfect car.

Get the Facts on CVT Reliability

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When CVTs first started seeing wide use, some automakers had issues with them. Nissan is a perfect example. Some of the componets the automaker used in its early CVTs failed fairly often. Belts or fluids would need replaced more often than many consumers expected. Since then, the automaker has taken steps to improve its CVTs, and now Nissan's transmissions are generally reliable and long lasting. Other automakers went through similar growing pains as CVTs became more wide spread

While not all CVTs can be considered the same when it comes to reliability, in most instances, the transmission type is as reliable as any other transmission. In fact, The Washington Post cited a J.D. Power study from 2014 that showed vehicles with CVTs had the lowest rate of engine or transmission issues. The same article from The Post pointed out that Consumer Reports data collected from 1.1 million vehicles showed CVTs are no less reliable than conventional automatics in the short or long term. CVT reliability and longevity simply isn’t an issue. To alleviate any concerns, most automakers include the CVT in the vehicle’s warranty program, and some offer extended warranties specifically for the transmission. 

Test Drive Cars with Different Types of Transmissions

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Before you buy a car with a CVT, make sure to test drive vehicles with other types of transmissions. There are conventional automatic transmissions and dual clutch transmissions on a number of vehicles out there. If you want to be sure a CVT is right or wrong for you, you need to take the time and drive a variety of vehicles.

When you go for your test drives, make sure to pay attention to how the vehicle takes off from a stop, how it accelerates when passing on the highway and how power is delivered when you come out of a turn where you had to slow down considerably. Drive the cars how you normally would. If a CVT feels okay when you’re behind the wheel, then it’s most likely a smart choice for you.