Cost of CVT maintenance


#1

How often does a CVT need maintenance? What is a typical cost? I’ve been driving a Prius since 2005, and I’m perfectly happy with the feel and sound of a CVT, compared to a regular automatic. In fact, I think it’s pretty silly to make them feel like they have discrete gears.

I had the fluid changed in the Prius transmission at about 130k miles. As I recall, the cost was about $200. Don’t know if it was necessary, but my mechanic said it was a good idea.

As an engineer, I understand that a CVT is, in theory, the most efficient transmission. But a part of me wants to keep it simple and get a manual transmission, which is what I drove for 50 years before getting the Prius. And I do miss the feel of shifting a good manual. But it’s hard to find them these days. On many models, they are only available in the lower trim levels.


#2

The Prius transmission is very different from the CVT used with conventional engines.
It’s essentially a differential gearset that uses the two electric motor/generators to vary engine vs wheel speed.
It’s actually simpler mechanically than a conventional automatic, manual or CVT transmission.
http://eahart.com/prius/psd/


#3

Yes, that’s the reason I bought a Prius in 2005. My selection process went:

  1. Civic hybrid with manual transmission.
  2. Then I realized that shift points in a hybrid would be different, and that the computer algorithms would probably do better than I. That led me to an automatic transmission.
  3. Civic hybrid system was simpler than Prius, but the Civic automatic was conventional, which adds back to the overall drivetrain complexity.
  4. Learned about the planetary gear mechanism that links the two motor/generators with the ICE in the Prius. This is a much simpler system, and as an engineer, I just think it is a much cooler solution.

I’ve been very happy with my Prius, except for the steering feel. I need to look more at the new Prius and see if they’ve fixed the steering feel problem. I just may end up getting another Prius.

BTW, it would seem that an EV would be the next step for an early adopter of hybrid car. But since my house is all electric, including the well pump (water), electric power costs me as much as gasoline. Add in the higher purchase price and range issue, it doesn’t look as attractive.