CVT vs. Automatic Transmission: What's the Difference?

Transmission Cross Section Close-Up

You’ve looked through the specs of the new vehicle you’re thinking about buying and you see that it has a CVT transmission. What is a CVT? A lot of our Manchester customers have had the same question. “CVT” stands for “continuously variable transmission.” It’s a little different from standard automatic transmissions, with some advantages. How does a CVT transmission work? Let’s take a look at the details and compare it to an automatic transmission.


How Does a CVT Transmission Work?

So, how does a CVT transmission work, exactly? This is another question our St Louis customers like to ask. The most interesting thing about the CVT is that it does not have gears. It uses two pulleys and a belt. One pulley goes to the engine, while the other goes to the transmission. The belt powers both pulleys. This allows for more efficiency on the part of the transmission. The lack of gears means that a CVT transmission has far fewer parts than a standard automatic transmission. Here are some of the advantages of a CVT transmission:

  • Better fuel efficiency
  • Lighter weight
  • Much less expensive to manufacture
  • Smooth drivability

How Does an Automatic Transmission Work?

We’ve answered, “What is a CVT transmission?” However, you may still be wondering how it compares to standard automatic transmissions. How does an automatic transmission work? An automatic transmission uses gears and has sensors to determine when to shift those gears using internal oil pressure. In order to shift gears, the transmission uses a torque converter to separate the transmission from the engine. Here are some advantages of an automatic transmission:

  • Automatic transmissions are better built for speed
  • Maintenance and repairs are less expensive

Trust Your Car to the Transmission Experts at BMW of West St Louis

Are you having trouble with your transmission? We make it easy for you to get your car serviced. You can evenschedule an appointment online. We’re conveniently located near both Ballwin and Ladue. So,contact us today.


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