Is your CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission) car reliable?

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
I'm thinking of getting a new car and wondering about the much maligned CVT. Honda Accords and Civics have been using this for a few years now. Is it reliable? I live on the top of a hill, BTW if that makes any difference, so I need to drive on low gear for a few miles every single day if that makes any difference.

Having to replace the CVT fluid is offputting too. Do you do that yourself?

Share your experiences with CVT long term reliability if possible.
 

ollinger

G.O.A.T.
CVT has improved considerably in recent years and seems now to be generally reliable. Subaru uses them widely and has very good reliability ratings, my nephew's CR-V has been perfectly reliable for several years with it. They're also less objectionable than they used to be, with most of the whining vacuum cleaner noises banished from them. Throttle response is still a bit less distinct than with a standard automatic but most people won't notice.
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
CVT has improved considerably in recent years and seems now to be generally reliable. Subaru uses them widely and has very good reliability ratings, my nephew's CR-V has been perfectly reliable for several years with it. They're also less objectionable than they used to be, with most of the whining vacuum cleaner noises banished from them. Throttle response is still a bit less distinct than with a standard automatic but most people won't notice.
I'm guessing your input was more helpful 8-B
 

Mr.Lob

Legend
I've read some CVT's are really good, some are bad. Depends on what manufacturer you buy from. Nissan 's had a lot of problems with theirs. Honda is considered tops in reliability, so assume their cvt's would be as well.

Wouldn't think a hill would matter.
 

Raul_SJ

Legend
CVTs get about 3 MPG better fuel economy than automatic transmission with four gears, and about 1.5 MPG better fuel economy than manual transmissions.
Here Are Some Things You Can Do Now to Get the Best Gas ...
https://www.ncconsumer.org › news-articles-eg › driving-more-efficiently-g...


:(
 

Harry_Wild

G.O.A.T.
I heard that Toyota CVT shift almost like automatic transmission since the have 1st gear built in them and uses this from 0-25 mph before handing off to the CVT. Then CVTs in are then follow by Nissan, Subaru, VW and then Honda which is unpleasant!
 
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Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
CVT has improved considerably in recent years and seems now to be generally reliable. Subaru uses them widely and has very good reliability ratings, my nephew's CR-V has been perfectly reliable for several years with it. They're also less objectionable than they used to be, with most of the whining vacuum cleaner noises banished from them. Throttle response is still a bit less distinct than with a standard automatic but most people won't notice.
I care about reliability mostly. Yes, the response is important too, meaning I don't want to feel like I'm piloting an off board instead of driving a car.

Hondas have always seem to be long lasting engines/power trains, and I wonder if the CVT changes anything about that. And I realize they later generations of Hondas also have Direct Injection, which I don't like either, but as long as it is reliable that's all I care about.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
CVTs get about 3 MPG better fuel economy than automatic transmission with four gears, and about 1.5 MPG better fuel economy than manual transmissions.
Here Are Some Things You Can Do Now to Get the Best Gas ...
https://www.ncconsumer.org › news-articles-eg › driving-more-efficiently-g...


:(
Sucks, doesn't it? I'm in the Bay Area too, so I'm not unhappy if I get better mileage with the CVT.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
Thank you for your responses and for this video. He says Toyota CVT seems very reliable, whereas Nissan seem problematic. I'll do my due dilligence and check into the Honda CVTs. A good site to check for potential problems for models across different years is carcomplaints.com
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
You look like a person who would enjoy a good driving experience. You need a Mazda. Wait for the Skyactiv-X to be released in North America.
You know what? Yes, everybody likes a good driving experience, but for me the most important thing is realiability because I drive my car a lot and I need to rely on it. I want the most practical, no-nonsense, and efficient car I can get. And within that category I'll take a looker over something less appealing, but first is reliability and efficiency.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
I heard that Toyota CVT shift almost like automatic transmission since the have 1st gear built in them and uses this from 0-25 mph before handing off to the CVT. Then CVTs in are then follow by Nissan, Subaru, VW and then Honda which is unpleasant!
Yeah, I guess Toyota is in the running now with Honda. Why is Honda so unpleasant? Is it the boating (aka rubber band) effect?
 

donquijote

G.O.A.T.
You know what? Yes, everybody likes a good driving experience, but for me the most important thing is realiability because I drive my car a lot and I need to rely on it. I want the most practical, no-nonsense, and efficient car I can get. And within that category I'll take a looker over something less appealing, but first is reliability and efficiency.
You need to avoid German cars (including high-end ones) if you're looking for reliability. Japanese cars have the best price/value ratio and they are reliable. In fact most cars are nowadays are reliable but it's all relative.
 

Crocodile

Legend
I prefer standard automatic transmissions that can handle plenty of torque being applied. You wouldn't see a Nissan GT-R or Toyota Supra or 370z with a CVT. They are still relatively new technology and getting better but depends on the car and what you intend to use it for. I wouldn't say want to tow a boat with one.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
most manufacturers seem to be moving away from port injection and going with direct injection for a better combination of power and fuel economy. Main advantages of port injection seem to be lower cost and greater simplicity.
Yes, but port injection seems to have better reliability because it doesn't have to deal with carbon deposits.
 

Mr.Lob

Legend
Yes, but port injection seems to have better reliability because it doesn't have to deal with carbon deposits.
True. Must really stay on top of maintenance in direct injection.

The check engine light covers many systems and components in your European vehicle. One reason for this combination of issues happening is due to the direct injection engine. These engines are the most efficient at low mileage. As the miles are put on the vehicle, fuel directly injected into the cylinder causes a carbon build-up. The direct injection does not allow for the fuel and its detergent additives to clean the valve and the port. The carbon build-up is the reason for the misfire (rough running engine). This signals the check or service engine light to come on, letting the driver know there is an issue with their engine’s performance. This is a typical problem which plagues these engines when the mileage hits 30-60,000.
What Preventive Things Can Car Owners Do?
There are several mechanical ways to solve the carbon build-up. The best prevention is scheduled maintenance. First, full synthetic oil changes should be completed every 5,000 miles. Changing the oil regularly allows for optimal performance of the intake valves.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
A better question is, does your CVT car puts you to sleep?
When I drive I like to play a game called "How high a mileage can you get." I've achieved mileage close to 40 mpg on long trips in cars that were rated in the low to mid 30s. The trick is slow acceleration and avoid using the breaks as much as possible. Also, keep cruise speed where the RPM are optimal, and that varies a little amongst cars, but usually is around 55-65 mph.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
True. Must really stay on top of maintenance in direct injection.

The check engine light covers many systems and components in your European vehicle. One reason for this combination of issues happening is due to the direct injection engine. These engines are the most efficient at low mileage. As the miles are put on the vehicle, fuel directly injected into the cylinder causes a carbon build-up. The direct injection does not allow for the fuel and its detergent additives to clean the valve and the port. The carbon build-up is the reason for the misfire (rough running engine). This signals the check or service engine light to come on, letting the driver know there is an issue with their engine’s performance. This is a typical problem which plagues these engines when the mileage hits 30-60,000.
What Preventive Things Can Car Owners Do?
There are several mechanical ways to solve the carbon build-up. The best prevention is scheduled maintenance. First, full synthetic oil changes should be completed every 5,000 miles. Changing the oil regularly allows for optimal performance of the intake valves.
There is also something to clean Carbon buildup called an Italian Tuneup, which consists of running the car at very high RPMs for short periods of time. ;)
 

hollywood9826

Hall of Fame
My Mom is on her second prius both over 100k miles and probably getting a third. No problems with transmission. I think the car rides fine when I have driven it. My compliant with the car is the seats are not comfortable. but you wouldn't know until you sat in one yourself. Probably just a fallback of my obesity.

I have a 2015 Outback with the CVT. It has 80k miles on it (20k) by me. No issues from a reliability standpoint of the CVT but it does do this weird thing when you first push the pedal where it wants to jump to make it feel like it has good acceleration. Then you can feel it slow down before going again. Apparently the newer ones don't have that anymore and CVT is way smoother. I have driven it on pretty steep dirt roads and enerv felt like the transmission was lacking and haven't had any issues mechanical at all with the vehicle.

I would trust a CVT and don't think your hill is any concern.
 

GeoffHYL

Professional
I have a 2014 Honda Accord 4-cylinder with a CVT. Took me a month or so to get used to it, coming from an older Accord with a regular automatic transmission. Have about 60K miles on it, no problems at all. Only funky thing is reverse up a hill seems to require more gas than my old Accord did, but how many times do you have to back up uphill?

I like the way the speed can increase with the RPM staying almost constant. You can do this if you are gentle with the throttle. Gas mileage is good. Get about 30 in the city as long as the drive is at least 3-4 miles and don't get stuck at too many red lights. Freeway mileage is high 30's depending on traffic (SoCal freeways, not always flowing very freely!).

I've had only one problem with my Accord, the battery cable went on the fritz for some reason. Coming up on 6 years with just tires, oil, and other standard stuff like that.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
My Mom is on her second prius both over 100k miles and probably getting a third. No problems with transmission. I think the car rides fine when I have driven it. My compliant with the car is the seats are not comfortable. but you wouldn't know until you sat in one yourself. Probably just a fallback of my obesity.

I have a 2015 Outback with the CVT. It has 80k miles on it (20k) by me. No issues from a reliability standpoint of the CVT but it does do this weird thing when you first push the pedal where it wants to jump to make it feel like it has good acceleration. Then you can feel it slow down before going again. Apparently the newer ones don't have that anymore and CVT is way smoother. I have driven it on pretty steep dirt roads and enerv felt like the transmission was lacking and haven't had any issues mechanical at all with the vehicle.

I would trust a CVT and don't think your hill is any concern.
That's reassuring. It doesn't mean it will work for me, but at least I know there isn't anything intrinsically bad with modern CVTs like there was with previous versions. I've driven some rental CVT cars and I understand what you are saying about the initial jump. Sometimes I've experienced something similar where you are easing the car to stop and it jumps a little. If you are not used to it it's very weird.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
I have a 2014 Honda Accord 4-cylinder with a CVT. Took me a month or so to get used to it, coming from an older Accord with a regular automatic transmission. Have about 60K miles on it, no problems at all. Only funky thing is reverse up a hill seems to require more gas than my old Accord did, but how many times do you have to back up uphill?

I like the way the speed can increase with the RPM staying almost constant. You can do this if you are gentle with the throttle. Gas mileage is good. Get about 30 in the city as long as the drive is at least 3-4 miles and don't get stuck at too many red lights. Freeway mileage is high 30's depending on traffic (SoCal freeways, not always flowing very freely!).

I've had only one problem with my Accord, the battery cable went on the fritz for some reason. Coming up on 6 years with just tires, oil, and other standard stuff like that.
I tend to go easy on the throttle unless I am in a hurry for some reason. I don't think the Corolla gets as good a mileage as some other modern cars, but it is good anyway. I'd sign to have the maintenance costs you have had in 6 years, that is a reliable car.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
I have a 2014 Honda Accord 4-cylinder with a CVT. Took me a month or so to get used to it, coming from an older Accord with a regular automatic transmission. Have about 60K miles on it, no problems at all. Only funky thing is reverse up a hill seems to require more gas than my old Accord did, but how many times do you have to back up uphill?

I like the way the speed can increase with the RPM staying almost constant. You can do this if you are gentle with the throttle. Gas mileage is good. Get about 30 in the city as long as the drive is at least 3-4 miles and don't get stuck at too many red lights. Freeway mileage is high 30's depending on traffic (SoCal freeways, not always flowing very freely!).

I've had only one problem with my Accord, the battery cable went on the fritz for some reason. Coming up on 6 years with just tires, oil, and other standard stuff like that.
I went with a certified pre owned 2017 Accord 4-cylinder! I really like it, and I got a great deal on it. I added the 7 year bumper to bumper warranty for peace of mind, because I think it's worth it for $1 a day.

I agree with you, mileage is great in this car. If you drive conservatively you can get much more than the 26/34 city/highway rating. I did a test the other day in the highway and drove the same 10 miles (relatively flat but with a very slight incline) back and forth. One way I got 50mpg and the other way I got 40mpg. This is better than my previous car that had the same rating, and I guess it has to do with the CVT.

One thing that bothers me a little bit is that when using reverse from a cold start the other day the car seems to vibrate a little bit. I've seen some people mention that elsewhere. But maybe I need to have some more experience and try a few more times.

Do you follow any of the Accord forums, BTW?
 

GeoffHYL

Professional
I went with a certified pre owned 2017 Accord 4-cylinder! I really like it, and I got a great deal on it. I added the 7 year bumper to bumper warranty for peace of mind, because I think it's worth it for $1 a day.

I agree with you, mileage is great in this car. If you drive conservatively you can get much more than the 26/34 city/highway rating. I did a test the other day in the highway and drove the same 10 miles (relatively flat but with a very slight incline) back and forth. One way I got 50mpg and the other way I got 40mpg. This is better than my previous car that had the same rating, and I guess it has to do with the CVT.

One thing that bothers me a little bit is that when using reverse from a cold start the other day the car seems to vibrate a little bit. I've seen some people mention that elsewhere. But maybe I need to have some more experience and try a few more times.

Do you follow any of the Accord forums, BTW?
Sweet deal. I opted for the extended warranty when I bought my car new, but so far, so good.

The highest mileage I have had on any trip that wasn't downhill is about 41, but more typical is 39. Found that driving about 60 maximizes MPG, but can't drive that slow on the freeway.

I haven't ever experienced the vibration in reverse. No, I don't follow any Accord forums, I just drive and drive.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
Sweet deal. I opted for the extended warranty when I bought my car new, but so far, so good.

The highest mileage I have had on any trip that wasn't downhill is about 41, but more typical is 39. Found that driving about 60 maximizes MPG, but can't drive that slow on the freeway.

I haven't ever experienced the vibration in reverse. No, I don't follow any Accord forums, I just drive and drive.
Yeah, the mileage you can get out of this car is pretty nice. I have the Sport edition, and that even has lower fuel economy than the regular LX trim, but if you drive conservatively it is great. I think the Sport is more prone to vibration. The engine bay, for example, has a strut across the top part to add rigidity to the chassis, and I'm wondering if that's partially what can cause that. I only felt it once because I've only taken the car out of the driveway once since I got it (I waited until the last moment to see if I could get a better deal that way.) I plan on taking it out for a long ride this weekend. I really lucked out, this car looks almost new. I also have another 4 years of bumper to bumper and Powertrain warranty to add some peace of mind.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
How do CVTs compare against 8 speed automatic transmissions? I get up to 55 MPG in my Camry.
 

Genious at Work

Hall of Fame
How do CVTs compare against 8 speed automatic transmissions? I get up to 55 MPG in my Camry.
Technically CVTs are better for mileage, but you can't compare apples and oranges because of the different engines. The Camry gets better mileage but has nowhere near the acceleration of an Accord, for example.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
You probably have the Camry hybrid to get that kind of mpg.
No, low-end gasoline model. I just drive very efficiently. In general, I avoid stopping and using the brake and the difference in gasoline mileage achievable is quite dramatic compared to specifications.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
Technically CVTs are better for mileage, but you can't compare apples and oranges because of the different engines. The Camry gets better mileage but has nowhere near the acceleration of an Accord, for example.
0-60 time is 7.6 seconds for the Camry. My first car's 0-60 time was about 12 seconds. In general, heavy acceleration decreases gasoline mileage and I generally avoid hard acceleration. I believe that the highway mileage has ticked up a bit from my 2018 and they might have gone with a taller gear.
 

acintya

Legend
Just bought a Subaru Levorg 1.6 sport - will let you know guys how it works in the long run. First 2 hours were like heaven.
 
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