Why Do CVTs Feel Slow?(Solved)

Why Do CVTs Feel Slow?

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Why Do CVTs Feel Slow?

CVTs feel slow because of their design, making them less responsive when starting in cold weather, and they may feel sluggish when accelerating at low speeds. This is because a belt drive system and a high-torque motor provide greater fuel efficiency than other transmissions.

When you first start, there is less resistance in the belt drive system while accelerating at low speeds because there is little traction force in the wheels.

As the engine speeds up, this belt drive system becomes more efficient and provides greater traction, which allows for higher acceleration.

This is one reason why CVTs feel sluggish when starting in cold weather.

Another reason they feel slow at low speeds is that they are very smooth while coasting and accelerating, which causes them to lose speed as you accelerate more quickly out of a stop light or less quickly when breaking free of a speed bump.

There are some manufacturers offering CVTs that are better suited for low-speed conditions.

These models try to mimic the feel of a traditional automatic transmission by using a smaller pulley with less distance between the belt drive system and the wheels.

Other manufacturers have tried integrating two contradictory technologies to have an automatic transmission and an engine that is more responsive when starting at low speeds.

Do CVTs Have Faster Acceleration?

A car’s CVT, or continuously variable transmission, reduces the amount of friction between the engine and driven wheels by using a belt-driven mechanism that adjusts the pulley ratio.

CVTs allow the engine to run at its optimal speed while allowing changes in torque throughout the RPM range.

This allows for smoother acceleration, providing what some drivers enjoy as a more natural feel as they shift gears.

Yes! When driving a CVT-equipped car, you’ll notice that it takes less time for your vehicle to come to a complete stop than if you were driving the same car with a different type of transmission.

Why Do CVTs Feel Slow?

A CVT functions like an automatic transmission without a torque converter when driving at high speeds. This makes for quicker acceleration at all speeds.

You can achieve the optimum acceleration of a car when the transmission is in first gear.

From this position, the pulleys can switch and change directions much faster than if they were in second or third gear, releasing power to the engine more quickly and efficiently.

A CVT’s continuous, rubber-band-like motion allows your vehicle to accelerate from a stop at a rate similar to an automatic transmission with the first few gears.

Unlike an automatic transmission, the CVT does not have to shift through gears when accelerating from 0-60 mph.

A manual transmission must go through first, second, third, and fourth gear before hitting 60 mph; this takes time that would only be saved if a driver was accelerating in fifth or sixth gear.

As the vehicle gets to higher speeds, transmission gears must switch much slower for the engine to maintain a high RPM.

The slow switching makes it harder for the car to shift into overdrive, but that isn’t the case with a CVT.

When the vehicle reaches high speeds, a CVT can switch gears at an accelerated rate, allowing it to maintain optimal RPM and power while maintaining higher acceleration than manual or automatic transmissions.

Is The CVT Any Better Than the CVT Transmission?

Gear ShiftingQuick and preciseSlow, harsh
Engine PowerBetter acceleration and more engine power.Less engine power and less acceleration.
Fuel EconomyHigher fuel efficiencyLower fuel efficiency
NoiseQuieter and more refinedLouder and less refined
Ride ComfortBetter ride comfortWorse ride comfort
SmoothnessSmoother than CVT’sLess smooth than CVTs
Acceleration Time (0~124km/h)Lower and faster than CVTsSlower than CVTs
Braking Time (0~124km/h)Lower and faster than CVTsSlower than CVTs
Overall EvaluationBest transmission ever made, no competitionAlso pretty good, but not as good as cvt2

Why Do CVT Transmissions Jerk?

1. Contaminated Transmission Fluid

When the transmission fluid is not clean and fresh, this leads to decreased transmission performance due to varnish and sludge build-up on the transmission pump, valve body, and inside the converter.

A CVT’s performance depends on a continuous, uninterrupted flow of fluid.

2. Low Transmission Fluid Level

Since the CVT has no gears, it relies on constantly flowing transmission fluid to keep the pulleys and belts aligned.

When there is inadequate transmission fluid or an improper level, slippage can occur between the pulleys, creating jerking when accelerating from a stop or merging onto highways.

3. Clogged Transmission Filter

If you don’t change the transmission filter regularly, it can clog with foreign material, restricting the flow of transmission fluid and causing jerking.

This is particularly important in cold weather because condensed water may freeze inside the filter and damage the transmission pump during defrosting.

4. CVT Belt Improperly Tensioned

When you adjust the CVT belts too tightly or too loose, slippage can occur, which in turn will cause jerking.

When the belt is not properly tensioned, it will also lead to unnecessary transmission fluid loss and damage to the CVT pump and valves.

5. Broken CVT Belt

If a belt snaps, the transmission fluid will drain out, and the CVT will stop functioning.

This is particularly important when driving in an area with severe winters because many cold-weather vehicles have belts that are not frozen during these seasons.

Why Do CVTs Feel Slow?

When this occurs, it can be very dangerous and lead to serious injuries to drivers and passengers because of lack of power to steer, brake, or accelerate.

What Is the Difference Between Toyota CVT And Nissan CVT?

FactorNissan CVTToyota CVT
ControlComputer-controlledManual Gearbox.
TorqueOn-the-fly, torque build-up by the computer for best power transfer.Variable torque ratio increases and decreases as your speed and engine RPM go up/down.
Fuel EconomySecond generation CVT is less fuel efficient than the first generation; the 5th gear is used for more torque.Better fuel economy than the first generation, 9th gear used for better fuel economy.
CharacteristicsSmooth and quiet when you have the most control.Not as smooth and quiet but has more torque production than Nissan CVT.
RideStiffer and less bouncy when you have more control.Good ride at all speeds.
PriceThe price is more expensive than Toyota.Price is more affordable than Nissan.
Number of gearsSingle-speed unit with a pair of belts and pulleys.A 9-speed unit with belts and pulleys.
EfficiencyAbout 50% efficiency for 1st generation and 67% for the second generation.About 55% efficiency for all 9 gears.
Transmission RatioNo manual gear shifting; transmission ratio is not used.T9A has a final transmission ratio of 0.753, and T9V has a final transmission ratio of 0.769.
Final SpeedThe final speed at the gear the driver selects by multiplying the final transmission ratio.Final speed at the gear that the driver selects by multiplying the final transmission ratio and torque.

What Are CVT Vs. Automatic Pros and Cons?


More Fuel EfficientPrice Premium
Smoother, more continuous shiftNo manual mode
Less MaintenanceDoes not use planetary gears
Less Wear on Transmission componentsDifficult to find manual transmission with the desired characteristics.
Smooth, linear accelerationRequires more advanced and expensive parts for operation.
Ability to Act like an automatic transmission when in low rangeLow torque at low speeds for the best fuel efficiency and most comfortable drive possible


More Torque at low speedsHigher Price
Less Fuel efficientNo manual mode
Less maintenanceMore wear on transmission components
Potential for improved drivability and increased comfort than a manual transmission Less efficient due to internal parts moving, such as the torque converter and fluid in the transmission that is not needed in a manual transmission
More reliable than a manual transmission, less maintenanceDifficult to find manual transmission with the desired characteristics.
Ability to ‘up-shift’ on its own as opposed to a manual transmission that requires driver input to move through gears.Doesn’t match fuel efficiency at higher speeds but can match fuel efficiency at lower speeds.

How Do You Tell If A CVT Is Going Bad?

1. Overheating

If a CVT gets too hot, the fluid inside will break down and leak.

This can happen for several reasons, including running the CVT too hard with many hills and idle times where the transmission is in gear but not moving or just flat-out driving it too hard.

2. Shuddering

If you’re picking up speed and must stop, your car could shudder as the synchros switch gears. This is one sign that you need to have your CVT serviced.

3. Grinding

Another symptom of a bad CVT is severe grinding when shifting or when you first start driving. This could signal a problem with your synchros or clutches.

4. Noisy

If your CVT sounds different than usual, there’s a chance that it’s going bad. Listen for unusual noises or grinding when you take off from a standing stop.

Take it for servicing if you notice it’s louder than normal or hear grinding or popping.

5. Loss of power

If your car loses power, it could be several things, but there’s a chance that a CVT problem has cropped up. This is especially true if you notice even more power loss when going uphill.

Why Do CVTs Feel Slow?

6. Noisy Shifting

This can happen if your clutch plates are going bad or your transmission fluid leaks somewhere and has dried up the seals on the shifting mechanism.

Are CVTs Faster Than Automatic?

Yes! CVTs are often faster than automatics in two important areas:

  • Gear-shifting.
  • Acceleration.

Gear-shifting is an area where a CVT has the inherent advantage over an automatic because CVTs don’t require the driver to manually change gears by selecting a gear with a shift lever.

Without that shift requirement, CVTs can switch to any available gear ratio instantaneously and smoothly, which means they usually have better acceleration than many automatics.

Another advantage of CVT is that when it’s heavily loaded, like going up a hill, the engine can rev to higher RPM to create more torque.

That extra torque can help the car shift gears faster, thus improving its performance in traffic or highway speeds.

However, a CVT may be slower or better than an automatic in some situations.

For example, an automatic will usually handle those situations better in snow or ice conditions because the engine does not need to rev up.

In those conditions, the CVT will automatically switch into a lower gear ratio, which requires the engine to rev up to maintain speed.

In stop-and-go traffic, an automatic may also prove more effective because it does not need to switch gears.

In these situations, you may force the CVT to stay in a low or high gear ratio when encountering frequent stops/starts.

What Is The Main Advantage Of CVT?

Fuel EconomyUp to 23 MPG.
Reduce emissions by up to 10%.
LightweightUp to 350 lbs.
Only 13.9 inches wide.
Easily DeployablePortable with a trailer hitch, and you can tow like a car with a 3/4 ton truck hitch.
Small SizeOn par with a 5-speed manual transmission for size.
Smooth AccelerationLess jerking like a conventional automatic.
More smooth acceleration.
Low Manufacturing CostSimilar to a manual transmission.
Requires minimal modifications.
No Negative Torque reactionAll of the benefits of an automatic, except that you have control.

Why Does My CVT Transmission Jerk When Accelerating?

1. Contaminated Transmission Fluid

CVT systems are consumers’ most advanced transmission technologies, which can automatically shift gears depending on driving conditions.

If your CVT transmission is jerking or shuddering during a high-acceleration speed, you may contaminate it with a small amount of water and oil.

2. Water in the Fuel

Fuel systems typically include an anti-vapor system that prevents moisture from entering the gasoline while traveling through tubes and fuel lines.

If water is in the fuel, a CVT transmission may develop jerking or shuddering during acceleration.

3. Broken CVT Belts

CVT transmissions are fitted with a belt or pulley system that provides the necessary friction and power to engage the transmission gears.

If one of these belts is damaged, it can cause the system to operate poorly and jerk or shudder during acceleration.

4. Lubrication Problem

Lubrication systems are important for CVT transmissions because they ensure that the gears remain coated with just the right amount of lubricant, which is necessary for smooth operation.

Defective or clogged lines can lead to jerking or shuddering sensations during high-speed acceleration.

5. CVT Fluid level Problem

When your car is in operation, it’s normal for some CVT fluid to evaporate. The evaporation process requires a constant supply of fresh transmission fluids.

If there is not enough fluid, the CVT may operate poorly and jerk or shudder when accelerating to high speeds.

6. Worn CVT Belt Pulley

A worn belt pulley can cause the system to stall after engaging a gear or have a jerking or shuddering sensation during acceleration.


Now that you’ve learned more about CVT transmissions, you can determine if one is right for your vehicle.

Modern technology offers many advanced benefits, but you should be aware of the drawbacks to ensure that you choose the best CVT for your specific needs.

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