The Sunday News
The question on everyone’s mind when they buy a car for the first time is whether it will last them the mile or not. An avid reader asked which they should go for, a manual or a CVT and which would be cheaper between the two.
The future is here and one thing the future is doing is rob us of manual transmissions, fret not though because you can still find some new cars coming with manual transmissions though it may not be so in the near future. A manual transmission has advantages worthwhile to any car owner. It can award the owner hundreds of thousands of trouble free mileage. We cannot exactly say the same about Continuously Variable Transmissions.
The biggest advantage you have with a manual transmission is the durability. I cannot stress enough on this one, a manual transmission lasts way longer than any other type of transmission, this however, is dependent on driving styles. As long as one understands their manual transmission very well they are set to have it for a long time. The only parts that wear out first on a manual transmission are the clutch components.
In a normal economy, manual transmissions are cheaper to buy because they are simple to make and everything is all mechanical. Automatics, CVTs and the like are more expensive to buy or repair when the need arises. With that said, you are better off with a manual — it’s cheaper and more durable.
Once you master the art of driving a manual, you can save more fuel because you are in control of the car unlike a situation where the transmission decides when to change. That has always been automatic transmission’s handicap.
A Continuously Variable Transmission on the other hand is basically a transmission that changes without steps, eliminating the need for gear changes. It’s like an automatic that went to private school. Since it went to private school it tends to whine a lot and isn’t built to last the whole nine yards, it’s that transmission that wasn’t perfected in the design lab and always giving issues.
CVT transmissions seem to fail prematurely and others have however, given their owners a good run for their money. I will, as usual give expensive advice for free. Cars equipped with CVT suffer from two things, firstly, design flaws and secondly ignorance. No one across the globe likes CVT, it’s like a great idea on paper but isn’t that great on application. The major problem being that it’s not durable. It’s a complicated design and when it starts giving trouble you will hate it and its manufacturer.
A lot of people are ignorant of the fact that CVTs are not automatics so they treat them like automatics. Mistake number one, is the use of ATF in a CVT transmission, it completely ruins the transmission. It’s a high friction transmission and requires specific oil which can stand high friction and heat without breaking down.
Unlike manual transmissions that don’t require any regular maintenance or regular change of gear oil, CVTs require fluid change every 20 000 to 40 000km depending on the driving extremes the car is exposed to. Don’t wait to hear the whining in the gearbox to start taking action, a stitch in time saves nine.
There are many cars with CVTs now, Honda Fits being the most popular, Nissan Tiidas, Nissan Serenas and a lot more. All of them suffer from similar problems.
CVTs are nice but they are boring to drive, they allow for a simple operation without any change of gears, the magic behind it comes when it starts accelerating it keeps a steady rev point while accelerating like an automatic car that’s not changing gears but that magic has a price. CVTs are so far not as reliable as they should be, well, at least not for Africa.
They are designed for low load operation meaning that overloading a CVT driven vehicle can prove disastrous in the end.
Naturally as Africans sometimes we have to carry dozens of relatives to the home area, carry a trailer and a whole load of groceries in a Nissan Liberty for example. That overloading is what’s bad for a CVT, especially after adding ATF to it. These cars are good, awesome and comfy. They have good technology but it takes knowing how to handle and maintain that technology to keep it working as it should.
So, my advice is to go for the manual transmission, it will last the whole nine yards as long as you drive well. Its cheaper to maintain, cheaper to service and cheaper in the sense that you can save fuel if you drive well.
Cvt transmissions have a problematic half baked design that’s giving people nightmares and is very costly to repair. Apart from that CVTs are nice while they are still working and that is usually in the sub 150 000km range.
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