What’s the Difference Between Automatic Transmission and CVT?

By Product Expert | Posted in Technology, Tips and Tricks on Thursday, October 26th, 2017 at 8:16 pm
old mercedes car front exterior driving down road

Automatic Transmission vs Continuously Variable Transmission

The general understanding of most drivers is that you have two choices when it comes to the transmission in your vehicle. The differences between those two are obvious, in that one of them requires the driver to personally switch gears themselves. However, in recent years, many car models have begun adopting a continuously variable transmission system. While it is also a variation on automatic transmission, what it is the difference between them? Read more for an automatic transmission vs continuously variable transmission comparison. 

Automatic Transmission 

Most automatic transmission systems are not technically automatic; rather, it is basically a manual transmission system that can shift gears without the pressing of a clutch pedal by the driver. A system under the hood can press the clutch, with an electronic control system, without any effort from the driver in order to shift gear when necessary on its own. It is a simple, yet effective system that has long been the standard for practical cars. 

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automatic transmission and cvt side by side

Continuously Variable Transmission 

Continuously variable transmission, a more modern transmission system, is one step closer to a truly automatic system than automatic transmission is. Rather than having a static number of gears, each with its own ratio, such as 6 gears in a 6-speed automatic transmission, continuously variable transmission operates differently. It has a single gear that can change ratios at will in response to the acceleration of the car, and can achieve any ratio possible within a certain range to match your vehicle. 

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Which Transmission is Right for You? 

Despite CVT being the newer, more technologically advanced system between the two, it is not necessarily the right choice for every vehicle. Depending on numerous factors, such as size of the vehicle, engine type and more, the standard automatic transmission may very well be the right choice. Both transmission types certainly each have their own merits, and it is all dependent on outside factors. 

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