April 12, 2017 By Nicolas A. Calanoc

Workshop Wednesday – How to properly drive with a CVT

Many of us have been driving with a CVT for years, but have we been driving it correctly?

CVT, short for Continuously Variable Transmission, is becoming a popular choice for car manufacturers nowadays because of their ability to seamlessly change effective gear ratios without being complicated, have a lower production cost because of fewer parts, and is able to run at the most efficient speed compared to fixed gears of a conventional automatic car.

It gets its characteristics from using a pulley system with the variator principle.  Because it is different from a conventional automatic transmission or manual transmission, these are the 5 things to keep in mind while driving a CVT vehicle:

1.Don’t hold a vehicle in an uphill with the throttle

Especially on traditional CVTs, these transmissions have a clutch that engages and disengages the power from the engine to the transmission. When “hanging” a vehicle on an incline, the clutch will grind with the static driven shaft that makes it wear out quicker than it should. So when on an uphill incline, just hold on the brakes instead.

2. It’s okay to floor the accelerator pedal at a low RPM

Because the nature of CVTs, putting the pedal-to-the-metal starting from a low RPM is perfectly fine. The car, its computer, and transmission will all adjust accordingly. This is one of the many reasons why the CVT is favored from entry-level vehicles and even some premium vehicles.

3. Inching your way in traffic

Especially in the city streets of the Philippines, we are guilty of inching our way through traffic. For the new CVTs and E-CVT, they have torque converters that protect the transmission, so inching through traffic is okay. With traditional CVTs, it is advised not to inch away because it will wear out the clutch quicker. Because of this, it is best to allow a good distance of travel in between the urban hustle on the road.

4. Go to a complete stop when changing directions

When shifting from drive to reverse or vice versa, it is imperative to be at a complete stop so that mechanical parts that do their movements to accomplish the task aren’t damaged in the process. As much as CVTs can take a beating, being diligent in shifting will maximize its service life.

5. Do not neutral drop your car

With more and more sporty cars adopting CVTs, it is tempting to launch those cars by applying power at neutral then quickly shifting to drive.  This poses a problem. Revving at a neutral state will have the engine related shafts rotating but the transmission shafts on a still. When it gets dropped from neutral to drive, there is just so much power for the parts of the transmission like the torque converter, bands and clutches to grab on to. So when parts that are designed to shift gears are treated to handle launches, they wear out quicker than they should.

With modern technology, there are safeguards that protect the parts of the car to maximize their reliability, but knowing these precautions and applying them will ensure that we keep our CVTs as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

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