I am shopping for a used car. These CVTs are a big worry to me. How risky and unreliable are these transmissions? Are they getting better, if so when and who's fixing things?

Asked by Jul 29, 2016 at 12:30 PM about the 2014 Honda CR-V EX AWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

16 Answers


Depends on who you talk to. Lots of manufacturers are going with CVT's due to fuel economy. I'm old school and do no prefer them, where others do. They are getting better with the newer designs, but if something does go wrong with them they can not be rebuilt like the old traditional hydraulic transmissions/transaxles but replaced with a remanufactured unit. Might be a tad more to fix. They also drive/rev differently. test drive one first to see if you like it.

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Well, it depends on the manufacturer. My Subaru CVT is extremely responsive while I've driven a Nissan and they are not, just depends. As for their reliability, I know someone who had a 2010 Subaru Outback and went 300,000 miles on the original transmission, no problems. CVT's are not as complex as planetary transmissions. The design for CVT's goes back to Leonardo da Vinci. It just took a while for technology to catch up and build one. And, they're used in aircraft technology, heavy equipment and snow mobiles. So, try one and see if you like it.... I do. Think of this, when an aircraft takes off on the runway, you hear the engines rev up really high and the plane takes off..... you don't hear the engine shifting gears, do you??

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Gas turbine aircraft engine with power variability ABSTRACT A gas turbine aircraft engine with power variability is provided. The gas turbine aircraft engine comprises a compressor and a turbine mounted on a common shaft, and, a continuously variable transmission coupled to the shaft for transmitting power to a propulsion load. Are you getting the idea? https://www.google.com/patents/US8181442


The main reason people shy away from CVT's is because they don't know them.... Subaru uses a metal belt driven pulley for their in house transmission and in my opinion it is excellent. Drive a couple of cars and make your own conclusions. Good luck.


When in doubt, you can do without. Since these vehicles scare you because of transmission issues, look for something else. For example I know about the Northstar Engine and the head gasket problem. They all blow head gaskets and cost upwards of $3000 to fix. So I'll never buy one! It's as simple as that. HTH. - Jim


Jim, CVT's have nothing to do with Northstar engines. And, all cars have problems with head gaskets if not taken care of properly. Your comments are scaring people away from even trying, how is this helpful.... If jsinas wants to try a CVT let them and they can decide for themselves. Yes, they definitely drive differently, but, that does not make them bad.


Just because you don't like them or understand them, doesn't mean they're not worth considering. By the way, you did get the point that this technology was first conceived by Leonardo da Vinci back in the 15th century, right? So, when people say, it's a "new concept", I ask them how do they know that? It's kind of like saying, don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up. And, they use CVT systems in so many other technologies, it's just that they're finally getting perfected in cars. What's wrong with that? It's SAD that there are so many naysayers out there, really sad.


In case you've forgotten, here's who Leonardo da Vinci was, pretty smart guy...... who invented a lot of stuff we have today! Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci


The original poster is concerned about a particular problem with these types of vehicles. The Honda CRV. The point I was making is if you know of an issue with a particular vehicle and it concerns you. Stay away from it. It's that simple. I used the Northstar as an example to illustrate my point. Now, Mark, I realize that you like to contradict me just for the sake of contradicting me but let's stick to the original poster's concern. I say they should not buy something that they have a concern with going into it. That would be my advice to anyone about any product. It just makes sense! HTH. -Jim


OK, Jim, maybe the problem is the Honda CRV, but, it's definitely NOT the fault of CVT technology. Excuse me for saying this and I'm not trying to contradict you, but, their headline reads, 'These CVTs are a big worry to me. How risky and unreliable are these transmissions? " Yes, I invited this person to test drive other cars, like Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. A number of car manufactures use CVT transmissions today. Here's one example of how it works compared to the planetary gears of yesterday. HONDA is only one car company... http://auto.howstuffworks.com/cvt2.htm


How are my comments helpful, Mark, I'll tell you. People get emotional when buying a vehicle. They see it, they want it, they buy it. Who cares if a year or two into the car payments the transmission self destructs and they're facing a $5000 repair bill that they can't afford on top of the car payment? That's what you're saying, Mark. At least they tried it. Isn't that what's important? According to you that's all that's important. Who cares if they have to walk or take public transportation to work every day while they save up the money for a transmission? While they're still making payments on the vehicle that's broken down in their driveway. That's right Mark, go ahead and try it. You know it has a history of expensive transmission problems. Who cares?! -Jim


Jim, sure, I care .... I wouldn't advise purchasing a car with known problems, who would? I said earlier, that I know of someone with a 2010 Subaru Outback like mine who went 300,000 miles on the original transmission, it was a CVT. Yes, all cars have problems and it's partly neglect. Look, I purchased my 2010 Subaru in May 2014, it's now almost August 2016, no problems, just regular maintenance. All cars require maintenance, otherwise, yes, take public transit.


Jim, just because you are familiar with the performance of CVT's or their durability doesn't make them bad... and tell me what car are you talking about that falls apart in one year self destructing, maybe you're referring to a YUGO? Yeah, YUGO's were really a disaster! I hope you're not lumping Honda, Toyota or Subaru into this group?


Sorry, meant to say, "just because you are NOT familiar with the performance of CVT's. .....

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