What is a CVT Transmission?

Shifter for an automatic or CVT


Any driver who spends time researching modern automobiles will eventually come across the letters “CVT,” but what is a CVT transmission anyway? The letters CVT stand for continuously variable transmission, a setup that uses two pulleys and a chain belt in order to deliver an effectively infinite variety of gear ratios. Ready for a closer look? Learn more about the benefits offered by CVTs and find out which new Chevy models offer the feature today.

CVTs vs. Traditional Transmissions

You may also hear a continuously variable transmission described as a shiftless transmission or stepless transmission, and for a good reason! Traditional manual and automatic transmissions use pre-set gear ratios in order to help you get moving from a standstill or conserve fuel at higher speeds. With these models, you’ll feel a ‘step’ whenever you accelerate or slow down and change gears. Unlike traditional transmissions, a CVT is built on a pulley system that allows for much more variability.

How Does a CVT Work?

Instead of cycling through six or ten ‘steps’, the pulley chain in a CVT lengthens or shortens in order to alter your vehicle’s performance. In effect, this technology makes it easier to find the right balance of efficiency and torque for any situation.

  • The fixed side of the CVT remains still, while the other side uses a hydraulic cylinder to move from one direction to the other.
  • By adjusting the distance between the two sides, the ‘gear ratio’ in your CVT increases or decreases in response to your speed.
  • So, a CVT effectively alters your gear ratio without any shifting required!

What Benefits Are Offered by a CVT?

Continuously variable transmissions are not commonly found in high-performance vehicles or trucks, where control and precision are more often preferred. However, it’s important to note that continuously variable transmissions tend to be easier and more affordable to repair than traditional transmissions. The lack of gear ratio ‘steps’ also allows a CVT to reduce fuel consumption and deliver a smoother ride in Noblesville and Westfield.

Which Chevy Vehicles Offer a CVT?

The Chevy Spark comes standard with a continuously variable transmission, and the Chevy Malibu does too! However, most vehicles in our lineup include either a six-speed, nine-speed, or ten-speed automatic transmission.

Although these automatic transmissions are more than capable of meeting the needs of most drivers—and delivering an engaging performance on Carmel roads—a CVT is offered in the models that need to be especially competitive on fuel economy.

Explore Transmissions and More at Penske Chevrolet!

Check out our parts tips and tricks to learn more about the components that make up your vehicle and the services that will keep it in tip top shape! If you’d like us to take a look at the transmission in your vehicle, feel free to reach out and schedule service today.

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