Bad CVT Transmission: A Brief Explanation with Top 12 Symptoms

Let learn about the various symptoms of bad CVT transmission! Transmissions with CVTs are automatic transmissions that change gear ratios due to the speed of the vehicle. A high performance transmission that provides better fuel economy is becoming more popular today, due to its high performance and fuel efficiency capabilities. Even though this transmission is highly technological, it can sometimes fail.

The first patent on this new technology was filed in the 1940s by Dutchman Van Doorne. The CVT transmission has been developed by many automakers since then. You should look for certain symptoms if you’re not sure if your CVT is bad. It is likely that something is wrong with the transmission if it leaks or smells burned.

Bad CVT Transmission & Basic Concept

CVTs continuously change gears & adapting its gear ratio to the vehicle’s speed is one of the features of an automatic transmission. High performance and fuel economy are making this transmission type more popular.

bad CVT transmission symptoms signs problem solution
Bad CVT transmission symptoms signs problem solution

A major benefit of this transmission is its ability to improve fuel economy since it offers a greater range of gear ratios than other transmissions. A reduced pumping loss will result in improved fuel economy and vehicle performance at high speeds.

CVT Transmission Workflow

CVTs are comprised of pulleys and cones connected by belts. By moving these cones closer or farther apart, the diameter at which the belt operates is raised or lowered. This allows the engine to shift smoothly into the appropriate gear ratio. Because it works like an automatic engine, you may love this type of transmission. There are some differences between this transmission and the traditional one under the hood of a traditional car.

CVTs connect two pulleys with variable diameters to a variation by means of a belt or chain. Transmission output shafts are connected to smaller pulleys, while input shafts are connected to larger pulleys. It is composed of two variable diameter pulleys enclosed in a metal housing. The belt or chain moves faster as engine RPM increases due to the faster speed at which the pulleys spin.

Signs & Problems of Bad CVT Transmission

There is a problem with CVT transmission problems & symptoms in that many of them cannot be explained directly.

By diagnosing CVT transmission issues early, you can save thousands of dollars on repairs. Drivers should learn how to identify the most common symptoms of a bad CVT transmission. A CVT transmission that is broken typically exhibits these symptoms. A CVT can manifest multiple symptoms & keep in mind that each of these problems needs a professional diagnosis.

01. Control Module Issue

The CVT is equipped with a transmission control module, just like all other automatic transmissions. Sensors in your car communicate with this module, which determines how the transmission should react to these signals. CVT transmissions may show sudden changes in behavior if the transmission control module malfunctions. All sorts of symptoms may occur, including delayed engagement, excessive slipping, and so on.

When these symptoms suddenly appear and with no prior indication of a problem, you can determine if the fault lies with your transmission control module. The CVT may become damaged structurally or mechanically over time, but electronic issues can happen immediately.

02. Transmission Fluid Issue

The most common cause of CVT transmission failure is old and worn transmission fluid. In the majority of CVT problems and symptoms, the culprit is inadequate CVT transmission fluid, worn out CVT transmission fluid, or the wrong CVT transmission fluid.

Transmission fluid, like any other transmission fluid, lubricates and cools all moving parts in the transmission, preventing mechanical damage.

03. Gearbox Issue

The dashboard of certain CVT equipped vehicles will display a warning message to check the CVT transmission. However, most often a Check Engine light will come on, and it is only after a proper diagnostic procedure that you can know that the problem lies in the CVT transmission’s internals.

In addition to flashing the gear selector lever lights to indicate transmission problems, some CVT gearboxes also flash the transmission indicator light.

04. Jerking Problem

CVT transmissions that jerk, lurch, or jump forward should be taken seriously. Reprogramming the CVT is usually necessary if the transmission fluid is low, contaminated, or worn out. When a CVT shifts between high and low gears, there may be some jerking, as some CVTs are not as smooth as others. A degree of jerking at low speeds is claimed to be normal by many people online and at dealerships. 

05. Emissions Issue

It is likely time to get your car checked for emissions if you keep experiencing similar problems. As CVTs are known to affect your vehicle’s emissions output when they fail, you will be able to determine if something’s wrong with yours.

Bad CVTs can display this symptom regularly. There may be belts inside the transmission that have dropped several degrees below operating temperature if you start smelling burnt rubber.

06. Torque Convertor Problem

As with hydraulic automatic transmissions, CVT transmissions have a torque converter. Several CVT transmission torque converter problems can be easily resolved by replacing the entire gearbox without paying attention to the CVT torque converter. The symptoms of a bad CVT torque converter vary.

Slipping, juddering, and other problems may occur, but diagnostic tools usually do not reveal any fault codes, which often makes dealerships believe that the CVT transmission needs to be replaced because of a structural problem.

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07. Signs of CVT Clutch Issue

The clutch is attached to the engine and transmission of most CVTs. Smooth takeoff is made possible by a clutch that slowly engages the engine and transmission during acceleration. You might have a problem with the CVT clutch if you experience jerky starting, lurching forward, or delayed engagement.

08. Grinding

When you hear a grinding noise from a CVT transmission, the problem remains a mystery & there is no definitive solution as to why. If the transmission fluid interval is shortened, the grinding noises may disappear. But, this problem arises on high mileage vehicles which require transmission replacements.

09. Metallic Multi plate Chain or Plate Slipping

In order to prevent slipping on the pulleys that regulate the gear ratio, the metallic multi-plate chain or belt must be clamped down with a certain amount of force. Having too much slip indicates serious transmission damage, even though some slip is okay out of the factory.

10. Overheating

There is a great deal of sensitivity to overheating in all kinds of automatic transmissions. There is no exception to this rule when it comes to CVT transmissions. It is possible for transmissions to overheat due to improper use or worn transmission fluid. In addition, a malfunctioning oil pump can impair the circulation of transmission fluid. 

In the event that your CVT gearbox overheats, your dash should warn you. In this case, you should always stop your car as soon as possible. The CVT gearbox can be driven away once it has cooled off if it has overheated due to traffic conditions. The CVT transmission is likely to be malfunctioning if the overheating warning message is displayed repeatedly.

11. Slipping Problems

Taking action to diagnose what is causing your CVT transmission to slip is a wise decision. If the transmission slips excessively, there may be serious structural issues with the transmission or transmission fluid problems. Insufficient transmission fluid might result in a lack of lubrication for the CVT pulleys, belts, or chains that must be constantly adjusted. When transmission fluid wears out, the same thing might happen.

12. Bad Noise

The CVT transmission should not emit any sort of weird noise. It may just be that you used the wrong transmission fluid or that the transmission fluid needs to be replaced. The problem with one of the internal bearings is causing some CVTs to make weird noises.

Before assuming anything else, a good mechanic will first rule out bad wheel bearings, suspension problems or problems with the braking system. The latter are much cheaper repairs than transmission problems and can easily be confused with them.


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