We Buy All Cars, Running or Not!

How Do I Know If My CVT Transmission Is Bad?

How To Know If You Have A Bad CVT Transmission

The CVT transmission, also known as the continuously variable transmission, is a mechanism that smoothly changes through an unending range of gear ratios while you drive down your car. There are main differences between this kind of transmission and the other popular choices in the market. Finding out these differences can help you decide which is best for you and your needs. 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Different types of transmissions, like mechanical ones, offer a fixed number of gear ratios and have hard shifts between each gear. You can tell if your CVT transmission is going bad by a lack of seamless gear changes. If you notice issues with your vehicle in the engine and the transmission, this can help you answer the question of “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?”

CVT Transmission Function

The main function of your car’s transmission is to make sure the correct amount of power goes to your wheels in order to operate your car at a given speed and allow the driver to remain in control. The transmission works by shifting gears at the right time, giving the right amount of power to the given moment in your vehicle. If your transmission cannot do this, then this is a clear way to answer, “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?”


A manual transmission means the driver needs to change the gear shifter and has the same effect as pushing the clutch and disconnecting the engine and the transmission. An automatic transmission uses an automatic gear shifter by utilizing the torque converter to determine these changes as you accelerate and change the car to a higher gear.


The CVT differs from these two choices. It offers a greater range of choices and flexibility to the driver and maintains a constant angular velocity without depending on how fast the car is moving. Regardless of how fast you are driving, this changes it from other similar transmissions. 


Additionally, a continuously variable transmission makes it easy to accelerate and shift smoothly and offers better fuel economy and miles per gallon in your car. If your CVT can’t shift gears correctly, then this can answer the question of “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?”

CVT Transmission Benefits


The CVT transmission offers a huge range of benefits to the everyday driver you might not find in the normal transmission, whether you choose between the automatic or manual. When answering “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?” you need to consider the positives and the negatives of this mechanism. 

  • Enhanced Fuel Economy

The first positive of the CVT transmission is that there is an enhanced fuel economy and the ability to earn more miles per gallon for the same amount of fuel. Modern hybrids utilize CVTs for their miles per gallon ratio, and many gas models with a CVT offer almost around 40 miles per gallon on an average car or sedan. If you have CVT transmission and your gas mileage is plummeting,  then this can answer the question of “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?”

  • Ease of Driving Uphill

In addition, another benefit that you will gain from using a CVT transmission that prevents any symptoms of a bad transmission is that driving uphill is much easier with this type of mechanism. A typical transmission, whether manual or automatic, usually has to work harder and puts more stress on the engine to find the right gear at the right time, whereas the CVT transmission finds the correct ratio that you need almost right away for the desired performance or task required. 


The correct ratio allows the engine to smoothly provide ample power without any hard or jerking while shifting. If your car is frequently shifting erratically or jerking while you try to accelerate, then this can answer the question of “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?”

  • Smooth Driving

Since there aren’t any hard gear shifting or jerking while accelerating, the CVT Transmission allows you to enjoy smooth driving and acceleration at different driving occurrences and speeds, which can prevent symptoms of a bad CVT transmission. Noticing the signs of a bad transmission and the ability to drive smoothly, then you can answer the question, “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?”

  • Prevents Downshifting 

The CVT transmission changing gears’ ability eliminates any sharp or abrupt downshifting when you need extra power to pass cars on the highway or get up steep hills. If your car is having issues downshifting or passing vehicles, requiring extra stress and acceleration, this can answer how I know if my CVT transmission is bad. 

Downsides of the CVT Transmission 


Despite there being many positives and benefits to using this type of transmission and can indicate why you might want a CVT transmission in your car, like anything else, there are also some cons of this type of transmission that can lend itself to answering the question of “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?” 

  • Price of the CVT Transmission 

Firstly, these types of transmission are more costly than other counterparts that might have harder shifting. Due to the expensive nature of CVT transmission parts and repair costs, drivers may decide to forgo this system for a more traditional transmission in their vehicle. Finding out the overall cost can help you find the answer to “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?”

  • Expensive Repairs and Replacements

Secondly, CVT transmissions’ repair and replacement costs can be more expensive than traditional options, whether manual or automatic, typically costing the car owner around several thousand dollars, one of the most expensive fixes in the entire vehicle system. Expensive fixes are also because these CVT systems are not as long-lasting as traditional systems and require more repairs, more frequently, and more pricey. 


The CVT transmission can fail at around 100,000 miles, while the traditional transmission will last twice as long, answering the question of “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?”

  • Not For High-Performance Vehicles

Thirdly, although the CVT is great for the average driver on the road, it is not designed for high-performance situations or those who want to focus solely on their car’s acceleration, power, sport capabilities, and horsepower. Continuously variable transmission can't handle the higher horsepower, which is why they are not the top choice for sports cars or performance drivers.

  • Different Noises from CVT Transmission

Lastly, the driver's noise perception is much different from another type of transmission, like an automatic or mechanical transmission, which has made drivers dislike the type of mechanism. The inability to realize what noises and symptoms are the signs of a poor transmission can cause users not to like this system as much as a normal transmission system. 

Faulty CVT Transmission Symptoms

  • Loud Noises from the CVT

First, there might be audible and loud noises coming from the CVT transmission that the driver and passengers can easily hear. The gears of the CVT transmission slowly wear down and break down over time, causing strange noises to occur when shifting gears, moving out of the idle position, or when you are shifting, causing rough shifting or rough idling. 


If you hear any loud sounds, like clanging, banging, or screeching, these could be clear symptoms of a bad CVT Transmission. The solution ranges in price and severity, going from replacing transmission fluid to replacing the transmission completely. 


If you hear any strange noises while shifting that does not seem to be going away during certain instances, this can answer how I know if my CVT transmission is bad.

  • Debris-Filled Fluid and Contaminants

Second, muddy fluid or debris-filled fluid could be a symptom of a bad CVT transmission. If your transmission fluid has a slightly sweet smell and is bright red, then that is working correctly. If the fluid in the transmission starts to look murky, dark-colored and has contaminants in the liquid, this can answer how I know if my CVT transmission is bad. In this case, change your fluid as soon as possible. 

  • Burning Smell in the Car

Third, if you notice a burning smell in your car, then the smell of burning something can be evidence of an overheating CVT Transmission and can be a symptom of a bad CVT Transmission. This smell is similar to rot and is a potential fire hazard, so make sure you bring your vehicle in for a fluid change before you increase the risk of a fire in your vehicle. If you do not change this right away, the risk of fire significantly increases, posing a threat to you and other drivers on the road. 

  • Leakage in Your Car

Fourth, any leakage in your car could be a symptom of a bad CVT transmission. The bad smell can also be a sign of transmission fluid leakage in your car, whether it is oil from the engine, coolant, or transmission fluid. Make sure that you check for leaks as a regular part of your car maintenance schedule to avoid further issues and prevent you from asking yourself how I know if my CVT transmission is bad? 

  • Transmission Slipping Gears

In addition, a very common symptom of a bad CVT transmission is that the transmission is slipping gears. This is a common problem resulting from structural problems or not enough transmission fluid, which causes the potential of gears to pop out of gear while you are driving. 

  • Movement Delays

Furthermore, other key symptoms of a bad CVT transmission is that there are delays in movement. If your vehicle stalls for a second or two before shifting gears smoothly, this should be a cause for concern and can be the direct result of any issue. Car owners usually experience this issue for a wide variety of reasons, serving as clear evidence that there are current gearbox malfunction or transmission fluid issues, causing a bad CVT transmission. 

  • Surging

Along with the other common symptoms of a bad CVT transmission, surging can be a sign of contaminated transmission fluid. When your transmission becomes too polluted or filled with debris over time, your vehicle might begin to accelerate, jerk, lurch. Jump forward, or fall back for no apparent reason. Sometimes, a transmission fluid flush could be all you need to solve the problem and save you the danger of asking how I know if my CVT transmission is bad. 

  • Inability to Reverse

Also, a refusal to reverse is a symptom of a bad CVT transmission, with cold weather making the problem reverse much more prevalent, making it a key and obvious sign that your transmission is in trouble and you have a bad transmission. Noticing the inability to reverse can help you answer the question of “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad.” 

  • Worn-Out Clutch Discs

One of the most obvious and most severe symptoms of a bad CVT transmission is that you have worn clutch discs. Much like brake pads, the clutch discs in a CVT transmission are coated in various friction materials to prevent overheating and burning. As you disengage the clutch, this material allows the clutch to grab and transmit engine power to the driveshaft to shift a car into the right gear properly. However, this material will wear down over time after prolonged use and won’t provide enough friction to allow the clutch disc to do its job. 


Answering the question of “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad” can help you keep your transmission working properly, prevent any future signs and symptoms of a damaged transmission, and keep your car working well for a long period of time!  If you notice issues with your vehicle in the engine and the transmission, this can help you answer the question of “how do I know if my CVT transmission is bad?”

© 2022 Cash Cars Buyer. All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Sitemap