CVT Transmission Problems

CVT transmission problems are getting less and less common in passenger cars today.  While the idea of a CVT transmission has been around for a long time, it wasn’t until recently that they began being used as standard equipment in cars.  

CVTs made a late entrance into the automotive industry party due to a lack of reliability when coupled with anything other than small engines but mostly because they just weren’t needed.  CVTs work great in lower horsepower applications but it was a challenge for automakers to create a CVT transmission that could handle the amount of power today’s passenger cars make while lasting as long as a standard automatic transmission.  The cost of research and development of automotive CVTs just didn’t make sense until fuel efficiency standards forced a little creativity.  

A CVT or continuously variable transmission has an infinite number of gear ratios available between it’s highest and lowest ratio.  That means if it’s controlled properly it can keep your car’s engine at exactly the right speed for maximum efficiency and maximum. Another plus is that CVTs transfer power more efficiently than a standard automatic transmission so less engine power is wasted on just moving parts inside the transmission.  With these benefits also come some drawbacks which you can learn more about from Carfax.

As with any new technology, different automotive manufacturers have had problems with the reliability of their new CVTs at first so it’s important to check up on recalls, technical service bulletins, and consumer reviews before you buy a used car to make sure you’re not inheriting someone else’s CVT transmission problems.

Like any transmission, CVTs are susceptible to leaks at the seals and gaskets due to lack of use, overuse, overheating and even normal wear and tear.  Spotting a leaking CVT can be more difficult than finding a leak in a traditional automatic transmission because the fluid is usually not a bright red color to distinguish it from other fluids.  Many CVTs will use a pale-colored fluid that is almost clear, gold or green. Check with your manufacturer to be sure, but to spot to leak you will probably need to get under your car and inspect each seal or gasket in your transmission to identify the leak location.

If you do find a leak, add BlueDevil Transmission Sealer to your transmission fluid to seal the leak, then check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out how to set the transmission fluid level to make sure you’ve got the right amount of fluid keeping your transmission safe.

You can pick up BlueDevil Transmission Sealer at one of your local auto parts stores like:

  • AutoZone
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • Bennett Auto Supply
  • CarQuest Auto Parts
  • NAPA Auto Parts
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts
  • Pep Boys
  • Fast Track
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
  • S&E Quick Lube Distributor
  • DYK Automotive
  • Fisher Auto Parts stores
  • Auto Plus Auto Parts stores
  • Hovis Auto & Truck Supply stores
  • Salvo Auto Parts
  • Advantage Auto Stores
  • Genuine Auto Parts stores
  • Bond Auto Parts stores
  • Tidewater Fleet Supply
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts
  • Any Part Auto Parts
  • Consumer Auto Parts

Pictures Provided By:

CVT.jpg – By LucaLorenzelli – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link


4 responses to “CVT Transmission Problems

  1. 1997 Ford transmission slip motor revs up and goes into low gear hard but it goes in gear it don’t slip can you tell me what causes this it is a 4.6 l 4 speed automatic with the push button overdrive on the gear shifter

    1. Jeffery-

      It is possible that normal wear and tear has left metal shavings, or other debris, floating around in the transmission and impeding flow. The best place to start would be to flush your transmission, change the fluid along with the filter and then double check to make sure the fluid level is correct. Having dirty/old transmission fluid or the fluid level too high or too low can cause the transmission to act up and not function properly. If you are still experiencing the same shifting issues after changing the fluid and filter and topping it off to the proper level then you may want to have your vehicle looked at by a transmission specialist.

      Thank you!


  2. I am just curious. Can premature transmission problems or failure in Nissan vehicles with CVT’s be averted by adding additional transmission coolers and following a religious fluid service schedule? Do the Nissan CVT’s have a filter that can be changed, or are they like the Ford 6F where there is a filter, but it is not accessible without disassembling the transmission?

    1. Benjamin-

      The transmission is very finicky system, especially CVT’s. Continuously Variable Transmissions are very specific as to the type of fluid that is used in them and adding anything outside of CVT specific fluid could cause some serious problems. Manufacturers recommend changing your fluid and filter at regular intervals just like your engine oil. Usually it is recommended at 30,000 to 50,000 miles for transmission fluid replacement.

      Thank you!


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