A very brief breakdown of common transmission types
Aside from used vehicles that are notorious for blown head gaskets and other serious engine damage, paying for a damaged transmission can be just as expensive. Therefore, when buying a used car, you should consider what type of transmission it has and whether it has a history of problems.
Related article: Ford Mechanic talks about self-destructing transmissions
Possibly the majority of the bad press about transmissions you’ve heard about is the one called a “CVT” transmission.
The Ccontinuous Variable transmission is basically a transmission designed to use pulleys connected via a steel belt, rather than using solid gears. This was the next step in transmission development from the traditional hydraulically driven transmissions that used a hydraulic system to engage the gears in older model cars and trucks.
The main advantage of an automatic transmission is that it makes driving easier for car owners—especially if the driver has physical limitations that repeatedly make it very difficult to press the clutch pedal on a manual transmission.
Today, however, the switch to a CVT is more about economics. The advantages of a CVT over a traditional automatic transmission are that it lowers fuel consumption, uses fewer components, is cheaper to manufacture and significantly lighter. The disadvantage of a CVT is that it limits the power of the engine being used and has a higher maintenance requirement.
It turns out that “higher maintenance requirement” is the problem with CVT complaints and its history among car owners—especially among Honda owners.
Related article: The sealed transmission White Lie
But is this still true today with modern cars?
The Peoples’ Mechanic sets the record straight
To understand a little more about the CVT problems car owners had and what years of cars it affected, here’s a recent one: Scotty Kilmer YouTube channel post where he talks about CVTs and how his opinion about them has changed.
The value of the video is that it not only explains CVT technology and issues, but also warns you of potential issues to expect with some used cars, but not others, depending on the year of the vehicle you are looking at and the transmission type it contains.
Related article: Six vehicles with deadly engines or transmissions to avoid
Cars with serious transmission problems (don’t buy)
For additional articles on transmissions, here are some selected articles that may be helpful:
• Used car transmission issues you should know
• Servicing your vehicle’s automatic transmission can be a DIY project that will save you money
• Diagnose transmission problems with this simple tool
Timothy Boyer is a car reporter for Torque News, based in Cincinnati. He has experience with early car restorations and regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for better performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily news about new and used vehicles.
Image source: Pixabay