Towing With CV Transmission?

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by DanLee, Nov 24, 2016.

  1. DanLee

    DanLee Member

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    I currently tow with a 2011 Forester (non-CV transmission) and have no problems. Thinking ahead, I'm wondering how the CV transmissions hold up and if there are any special problems with them concerning towing. Any experience here?

    Thanks.

    Dan
     
  2. mandinga

    mandinga Member

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    I think CVT trasmissions are only used on small cars and SUV''s. You won't be able to get a vehicle big enough to tow equipped with one. They are light duty.
     
  3. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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    They are being used on more and more vehicles, including ones with decent towing capacity (3,000 lbs on the Outback). Subaru uses them on lots of their vehicles now and Honda is putting them on more every year. Like them or not, they are moving in. I don't think we'all see them on larger vehicles any time soon, but who knows.

    As for towing with them, I'd be hesitant, but the engineers at X car company that set the towing capacities know a lot more than me.
     
  4. Kb2yht

    Kb2yht New Member

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    There is no fundamental reason a CVT would not tow exceptionally well, however in the real world most of them are designed for light weight use, and would likely not take the extra strain on the gears well.

    And I think most still use a fluid torque converter, which would likely have a lot of trouble with the extra heat.

    Really more of a design mismatch than a technology issue.


    As counter example, I had a heavy brush truck in my fire department that used a CVT .. not light at all, and hauled our moving command trailer.
     
  5. mandinga

    mandinga Member

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    I always thought they would be great for towing, but after some research, they almost all rely on a belt. They simply can't handle high torque needed for haulin without slipping or wearing out. I would be great if they could. Semi's would love them.
     
  6. f5moab

    f5moab Retired from the Federal Government

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    They are coming! There are variations of a CVT such as the IVT which were (maybe still) used on tractors, and the main battle tank for the Japanese Defense force uses a CVT developed by Mitsubisi. So I wonder how long it will take for that technology to enter the car market? And Audi has used a chain drive CVT, but it had basically no towing, maybe 1200 lbs or less.
     
  7. webhannet

    webhannet Member

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    Even though manufacturers list towi ratings for every vehicle, those ratings arer based on calculations involving all sorts or individual factors like the powertrain, brakes, chassis etc. None of the ratings address expected longetivity - and CVT transmissions might be a good example of things left out of the ratings. Frankly, I wouldn't take the chance - there must be another vehicle to consider.
     
  8. WeRJuliIan

    WeRJuliIan If it's "Aluminum", why not "Sodum" and "Uranum"?

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    CVT technology has been in use in cars for a long time. The Dutch company, DAF exported it from their truck to the cars, back in the 70's, I believe.
    Not sure I'd want to tow with one though.. they were quite small
     
  9. FarmerDave

    FarmerDave Active Member

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    If it's rated to tow what you want to pull, go for it.

    Never towed with one, but have driven one, didn't like it, but if one was built to haul a heavy load, I could see it being programmed to keep the engine right at the max torque RPM and let the trans adjust your speed.
     
  10. KJ Knowles

    KJ Knowles Member

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    I stay relatively active in a couple of Subaru forums and can report that while there are CVT haters, I have not seen any reports of problems from towing. The people who have towed with both normal automatic transmissions and CVT seem to prefer the CVT at about a three or four to one ratio.

    I don't recall anyone saying "I hate towing with this!" or similar, while there have been a few raves like this one from a 2015 Outback owner:

    • CVT were made to tow.
      Best gearbox I've towed with.

    Long discussion here, but worth digging through for drivers' experiences driving and towing with Subaru CVT: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-2014/57953-how-good-cvt-transmission-7.html

    I should be able to provide some first hand information in a few weeks, after delivery of our new Aliner camper. [:D]
     
  11. Jughed

    Jughed Member

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    This caught my interest as the wife loves the Outback, and I like Subarus in general.

    Looking at the web for answers, this was posted - its a blurb from the owners manual.

    "CVT MODEL "When towing a trailer without brakes. 1,000 lbs (453 kg) When towing a trailer with brakes. 2,700 lbs (1,224 kg) When towing a trailer on a long uphill grade continuously for over 5 miles (8 km) 1,350 lbs

    They are basically telling you not to tow much weight in anything but flat conditions.

    I know people will say they've not had issues... but if they do, its going to be expensive, as they are expensive to repair, if they can be repaired at all.

    I know we default to the - if the factory says it can tow it, it can tow it. But even 3/4 trucks are prone to transmission failure while towing loads... and towing/heat will shorten the life of these units. The factory ratings tell us it will pull the load, but they don't tell us how long all the driveline parts will last.
     
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  12. Ryanm

    Ryanm Member

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    I don't like or trust regular automatics. But I'd rather tow with one of them than a CVT.

    Yes, if it's rated for it then it's rated for it. Yes they can both be done properly, and many people don't have problems with theirs, yadda yadda yadda (I'm one of them; our TV's regular automatic is still going strong with 150k on it). But they add a whole bunch of points of failure to a car and I'm not a fan.
     
  13. jumpoff

    jumpoff I'm in a camping state of mind

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    I've never seen a tow rating with a "long uphill grade" caveat...that must speak to heat build up
     
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  14. Hersbird

    Hersbird Member

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    I wouldn't tow with a CVT yet. Being about as reliable as 2000's Ford Explorer transmission at best is one thing, costing 3 times as much as one to fix is another. I guess if you lease and keep it only under warranty. Nothing beats a manual for reliability especially while towing. Yes the clutch in my Subaru wore out at 165K but at least I could fix it myself for less then $200 in parts. While I had it out, I also did the head gaskets which were leaking oil, the timing belt, and water pump. Oh and I get just as good of MPGs as my mom's new Forrester with the CVT. EPA ratings are designed to punish manual MPG ratings. Real world, a professional driver will do better with a manual then a CVT. Average leadfoot will do better with a CVT... and then hate the way it drives the whole time.

    That said I do want to LEASE a new Pacifica hybrid that does use an even more complicated electrically variable transmission. I say lease because who knows how that bad boy will hold up. It gets 32mpg combined city/highway on just gas, or will go over 30 miles without any gas at all in electric mode. As long as it doesn't spend it's life in the shop, that's pretty cool.
     
  15. KJ Knowles

    KJ Knowles Member

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    I have now towed our ~2000 pound Aliner with the Outback 2.5i CVT about 3500 miles and have found it works well for me (in the fairly flat areas we go camping). It doesn't seem to adjust the gearing under load as much as I expected it would. It just seems to go about its business much like any other auto trans would.

    I did experiment with cruise control just to see how it would behave. Normally I would not use cruise while pulling a trailer, but I wanted to see what it would do. It worked normally on level road, but add in any significant amount of uphill grade and it became obvious that the communication between cruise control and the Powertrain Control Module was confused by the speed and load conditions. The engine would almost immediately rev very high (5K+), when such antics were certainly not needed. Turn off cruise and it would pull up the grade just fine at normal highway RPM. Needless to say, it was a short experiment!

    Transmission wise, I don't mind towing with it at all, for our use. We just traded the Outback in for a shiny new one with the 3.6 liter six. While the 2.5 liter four was certainly adequate, I would like to have a bit more grunt, especially if we decide to travel to more mountainous areas.
    2017 Outback.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  16. Loess Hills Sun Valley

    Loess Hills Sun Valley New Member

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    I just towed 1900 miles in an as-simple-as-you-can-get-one 2017 Outback with the Eyesight smart cruise control and the CVT. It was freaking incredible. The CVT just goes to where it's torquey without any shake or hunting. It's not at all like the Saturn CVT I drove ten years ago. When on cruise, it'd hunt occasionally but by and large was amazingly smooth and sure, and never dropped more than 4 m.p.h. and that was on a sand-dune-steep rolling hill on the I-80 in western Iowa, into a quartering headwind. Most of the time it wouldn't drop a single m.p.h. when the road rose or we came about into stiff wind. This is towing about 1200 pounds, way below what it's capable of.

    As to Subaru's Eyesight system and smart cruise, it was uncanny. Held smooth like I said, and here's what is so amazing: with it set at the farthest out of four bars, would acquire a vehicle / slow down to match it, and speed back up if the guy ahead speeds up / does all this at fully adequate distance for a semi-trailer rig to merge between you without you needing to brake!! It's like another world.
     
  17. KJ Knowles

    KJ Knowles Member

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    Loess Hills Sun Valley, I'm with you 100% on Eyesight cruise control. I have loved it on our 2015 and understand it is even better on the 2017 models (I noticed our 2017 has 3 forward cameras, while the 2015 had only two).

    My wife never uses it (and it is her car) whereas I never pass up a chance to use it! The only problem I have is making sure to remember that I DON'T have it my car when I am using its cruise function. :grin:
     

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