Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Charlie asks: Almost every new car seems to come with a CVT transmission as the one and only choice. I have never liked them and have heard they’re both fragile and expensive. Why are CVTs becoming so common and would you buy one?
My reply: Continuously variable (CVT) transmissions are becoming hard to avoid – chiefly because it is hard to avoid the government. Which has pushed mandatory MPG minimums (i.e., Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency standards) so high – the minimum average (not highway) is currently 35 MPG – before “gas guzzler” taxes are applied, driving up the price of the car and making it harder to sell.
So the car companies resort to any technology which increases the MPGs, even if only slightly. The CVT is one such technology. It can increase a car’s mileage by about 3 MPG overall vs. an automatic with fixed gears by continuously varying the effective drive ratio for the speed/load – by altering the diameter of a band/pulley system.
A regular automatic’s fixed gears are not exactly right for every condition; the transmission has to “step up” and “step down” to get close to the right ratio.
CVTs are more compact, making them ideal for FWD applications. But they are noisy compared with regular automatics and some people dislike the “shift-less” operation. They don’t seem to be as long-term reliable as most automatics, especially the automatics of the Pre-Insane Era (roughly, 2010 and before) which had five or six speeds rather than eight, nine or even ten – as now.
And they’re generally not serviceable when they fail – which is why they’re expensive. You replace the whole thing.
I personally would not buy one for these reasons. But it’s getting hard to exercise that choice – without buying an older car. The good news there is you can also avoid ASS and driver “assistance” technology, too!
. . .
Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet (pictured below) in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a sticker – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)
My latest eBook is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here. If that fails, email me at EPeters952@yahoo.com and I will send you a copy directly!