How Long Do Volvo CVT Transmissions Last?

A Continuously Variable Transmission, aptly referred to as CVT transmission is a simply a single speed transmission that is designed to work like an automatic shifter for smooth and seamless shifting through different gear ratios. In other words, it is the exact opposite of mechanical shifters which offer easy access to a fixed number of gear ratios. Chances are, your Volvo model uses CVT transmission. This leaves you with no choice but to understand how it works, what makes it unique and more importantly, how long it lasts. Read on to learn more.

The Basics

When it comes to conventional automatic transmissions, the CVT stands out as a lesser known option. Using its easy, because you use it just like regular transmission. Simply slide the shift lever from P to D and off your Volvo goes. But things get a little bit complicated after that.

Volvo models that use automatic gear systems have a specific number of gears that commonly referred to as ‘speeds’.  The concept here is easy to understand. Each gear is ideal for a given speed, so as you accelerate, the transmission shifts through the gears from Gear 1, then 2 and so on. This is not what happens in Volvo models that use CVT. The system doesn’t feature gears. It more or less features one gear that acts like ‘the magic gear’ which drives through different speeds. That explains why you won’t feel gear shifts when driving any Volvo model with CVT.  You will however notice change in engine speed as RPM.


This is by all means a no brainer. For nearly all Volvo components and systems, everything boils down to care and maintenance.  Take good care of your car and its CVT will last for long. Keep in mind though that CVTs have specific parts and components that are sensitive. Take the CVT steel chain for instance which is just an inch wide. It is the main route for transmitting power from the engine to all the other parts of the car. If the chain breaks down for one reason or another, transmission will come to a standstill.  When the chain breaks down, it shatters into small pieces with shrapnel everywhere.


Start by ensuring your change transmission fluid regularly. Where possible, change it after every 30,000 kilometers. Remember too that the belt and the chain that transfers always needs clean and fresh oil to work as it should, so change oil frequently. Then while at it, keep in mind that oil change frequency should be done depending on factors like climate and other environmental conditions of the area where you mostly drive. If you live in a hot and dusty area for instance, frequency should be more than the manufacturer’s recommendation.

The Perks

They are many. For starters, the CVT system is easy to maintain. Then there is the fact that it makes driving easy, which makes it ideal for learners.  The system has also been proven to be fuel efficient as it increases mileage. It is therefore an ideal option for Volvo lovers who want a car with transmission system that is easy to maintain and at the same time, easy to operate.