CVT transmissions are common in many modern vehicles, but they have a reputation for poor reliability compared to traditional automatics. If your CVT transmission fails, is it worth the cost to replace it? Or should you try to sell your car and buy another one?
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Replacing a bad CVT transmission can absolutely be worth it if you plan to keep the vehicle long term. But it depends on the repair cost, your vehicle’s value, and the likelihood of future issues.
Weigh the pros and cons of repair vs replace to make the best decision.
Understanding CVT Transmission Problems
When it comes to transmission options in modern vehicles, the continuously variable transmission (CVT) has gained popularity for its smooth and efficient operation. However, like any mechanical component, CVTs can experience problems over time.
Understanding these issues can help determine whether it’s worth replacing your CVT transmission or pursuing alternative solutions.
Common CVT failure points
CVT transmissions have a few common failure points that owners should be aware of. One of the most common issues is the belt or chain slipping, which can lead to poor performance and reduced power transfer.
Additionally, CVTs can experience shaking or jerking during acceleration or deceleration, indicating potential problems with the transmission’s internal components. Unusual noises, such as whining or grinding, can also be signs of CVT issues that require attention.
Symptoms like slipping, shaking, and noise
Recognizing the symptoms of CVT transmission problems is crucial for early detection and prevention of further damage. If you notice your vehicle slipping gears, experiencing a loss of power, or struggling to maintain a consistent speed, it could be indicative of a CVT issue.
Shaking or jerking sensations while driving, especially when accelerating or decelerating, may also point to transmission problems. Additionally, any unusual noises coming from the transmission, such as whining or grinding, should be investigated by a qualified mechanic.
High failure rates in some models
It’s important to note that CVT failure rates can vary between different vehicle models. While CVTs are generally reliable, certain makes and models have experienced higher rates of transmission problems.
For example, some Nissan vehicles equipped with CVTs have been known to have higher failure rates compared to other manufacturers. Conducting thorough research on the specific make and model of your vehicle can provide insights into common CVT issues reported by other owners.
Repairs often needed before 100k miles
While CVT transmissions are designed to be durable, they may require repairs or replacements before reaching 100,000 miles. This can be a significant concern for vehicle owners who want to keep their cars for the long term.
It’s important to factor in the potential costs of repairing or replacing a CVT transmission when considering whether it’s worth investing in this type of repair. Consulting with a trusted mechanic or transmission specialist can provide valuable guidance in making an informed decision.
The Repair or Replace Dilemma
When faced with transmission issues, one of the biggest decisions car owners have to make is whether to repair or replace their CVT transmission. This decision can be challenging, as it involves weighing various factors such as repair costs, vehicle value, likelihood of repeat failure, long-term plans for the vehicle, and even new car prices and interest rates.
Let’s take a closer look at these considerations to help you make an informed decision.
Weigh repair costs vs vehicle value
One of the first things to consider is the cost of repairing your CVT transmission versus the value of your vehicle. If the repair costs exceed the value of your car, it may not be worth investing in a transmission replacement.
In this case, it might be more financially sensible to consider selling the car or exploring other options.
Consider likelihood of repeat failure
Another important factor to consider is the likelihood of repeat transmission failure. If your CVT transmission has already been repaired once and there’s a high chance it will fail again in the near future, it might be more prudent to replace it rather than continuing to pour money into repairs.
This is especially true if the vehicle is older or has a high mileage.
Think about your long-term plans for the vehicle
Before making a decision, it’s crucial to think about your long-term plans for the vehicle. If you plan on keeping the car for several more years and it’s in otherwise good condition, investing in a transmission replacement could be a wise choice.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to sell or trade in the vehicle soon, it might not be worth the expense.
Factor in new car prices and interest rates
Lastly, it’s worth considering the current prices of new cars and the prevailing interest rates. If the cost of a new car is significantly higher than the transmission replacement cost, it might make more sense to repair the transmission.
Additionally, if the interest rates for car loans are high, it could be more financially beneficial to repair rather than finance a new vehicle.
Ultimately, the decision to repair or replace your CVT transmission depends on a combination of these factors. It’s important to carefully evaluate your situation and weigh the pros and cons before making a final decision.
Consulting with a trusted mechanic or automotive expert can also provide valuable insight into the best course of action for your specific circumstances.
The Case for Replacement
Allows you to keep a vehicle you know and love
One of the biggest advantages of replacing your CVT transmission is that it allows you to keep a vehicle that you know and love. If you’ve had your car for a long time, you may have become attached to it, or it may have sentimental value.
By replacing the transmission, you can continue driving the same car you’re familiar with, and avoid the hassle of adjusting to a new vehicle.
Avoids costs and headaches of car shopping
Replacing your CVT transmission can also save you from the costs and headaches of car shopping. Shopping for a new car can be a time-consuming and stressful process. You have to research different models, visit dealerships, negotiate prices, and deal with financing options.
By opting for a transmission replacement, you can skip this process altogether and focus on getting your car back on the road.
Makes sense if repair is less than car’s value
When deciding whether to replace your CVT transmission, it’s essential to consider the repair cost in relation to the value of your car. If the cost of replacing the transmission is significantly less than the value of the vehicle, it may be a financially savvy decision.
However, if the repair cost is close to or exceeds the car’s value, it might be more cost-effective to explore other options, such as selling or trading in your car.
No car payment and lower insurance costs
Another advantage of replacing your CVT transmission is that it eliminates the need for a car payment. If you were considering purchasing a new vehicle, you would likely have to finance it, resulting in monthly payments.
By opting for a transmission replacement, you can avoid this additional expense and continue driving your car without the burden of a car payment. Additionally, since the value of your car may decrease after a transmission replacement, your insurance costs may also decrease, saving you money in the long run.
When Replacement May Be Better
Repair costs exceed vehicle’s book value
One important factor to consider when deciding whether to replace your CVT transmission is the repair costs compared to the book value of your vehicle. If the cost of repairing your transmission exceeds the value of your car, it might be more practical to invest in a replacement.
Continuing to pour money into a vehicle that is worth less than the repairs is not a wise financial decision.
High mileage increases future repair risks
As your vehicle racks up more miles, the risk of encountering additional transmission problems increases. CVT transmissions are known for their sensitivity to wear and tear, especially as the mileage climbs higher.
If your vehicle has high mileage and has already experienced transmission issues, it might be a good idea to consider a replacement instead of potentially facing more costly repairs down the line.
Opportunity to upgrade to a newer vehicle
Replacing your CVT transmission also presents an opportunity to upgrade to a newer vehicle. As technology advances, newer models often come equipped with improved transmission systems that can provide better performance, fuel efficiency, and reliability.
If you’ve been considering a vehicle upgrade, a transmission replacement could be the perfect time to make that move.
Trade-in value decreases over time
As vehicles age and accumulate mileage, their trade-in value tends to decrease. If you’re planning on selling or trading in your car in the future, it’s important to keep in mind that a faulty or failing CVT transmission could significantly lower its value.
By opting for a replacement, you can ensure that your vehicle maintains its trade-in value and potentially even increase its appeal to potential buyers or dealerships.
Improving Reliability of a Replacement
When replacing a CVT transmission, it is important to take steps to ensure the improved reliability of the new transmission. Here are some measures you can take:
Use OEM or high-quality aftermarket parts
Using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or high-quality aftermarket parts can significantly improve the reliability of your replacement CVT transmission. OEM parts are designed specifically for your vehicle and are built to meet the manufacturer’s standards.
High-quality aftermarket parts, on the other hand, are often manufactured to the same specifications as OEM parts and can be a more cost-effective option. When choosing aftermarket parts, make sure to research reputable brands and read customer reviews to ensure their reliability.
Consider an improved CVT replacement
If you have experienced issues with your original CVT transmission, it may be worth considering an improved replacement. Some manufacturers offer updated versions of their CVT transmissions that address common reliability concerns.
These improved transmissions may have enhanced components or design modifications to improve their durability and performance. Consulting with a reputable transmission specialist or your vehicle’s manufacturer can help you determine if an improved replacement is available for your specific vehicle model.
Add transmission cooler and fluid changes
Installing a transmission cooler can help regulate the temperature of the CVT transmission, which can reduce the risk of overheating and extend its lifespan. Additionally, regular fluid changes are essential for maintaining the reliability of a CVT transmission.
Over time, the transmission fluid can become contaminated or degraded, leading to reduced performance and potential damage. Following the manufacturer’s recommended fluid change intervals and using the correct type of fluid can help ensure the proper functioning of the replacement transmission.
Get extended repair warranty for peace of mind
When investing in a replacement CVT transmission, it is wise to consider getting an extended repair warranty. This warranty can provide coverage for unexpected repairs or failures of the transmission, offering you peace of mind and potentially saving you money in the long run.
Be sure to carefully review the terms and conditions of the warranty, including any exclusions or limitations, before making a purchase. Some reputable warranty providers to consider include CarChex and Endurance Warranty.
Assessing whether to repair or replace a faulty CVT comes down to the repair cost, vehicle value, and your plans for the car. For many, repairing makes the most economic sense. But consider all factors carefully.
With proper installation and maintenance, a replacement CVT can provide many more years and miles of reliable service.