Are you experiencing issues with your CVT transmission, and you are asking yourself can CVT transmissions be rebuilt and how much does it cost to get a rebuilt CVT? If this is the case, you are in the right place because, in this article, there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
Doing your own research when it comes to issues such as broken transmissions and the way around these problems is the way to go. You don’t want to end up ripped off by greedy mechanics. And this is why we are here to help you out.
First, we are going to learn whether can CVT transmissions be rebuilt, and then we will cover the costs involved and answer more interesting questions. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the topic.
Can CVT Transmissions Be Rebuilt?
The short answer is, yes. You can rebuild a CVT transmission. There are many shops across the country that are handling these transmissions, and you can take your transmission to them and get it rebuilt.
These transmissions, even though still not massively used in cars (debatable, depends on the country) are not something new. There are a lot of shops that know how to deal with issues that arise on them. This includes fixing minor CVT problems and also doing full rebuilds.
Once your transmission has been rebuilt, you are basically having a brand-new transmission. Unlike old-school torque converter automatics where if the wear is too much, the only way around the problem will be to completely replace the transmission.
CVT transmissions are very simple on the inside. There are two pulleys and a steel belt. These two pulleys are variable and they expand and contract.
In other words, we can say that there are infinite gear ratios when it comes to this type of transmission. The only thing in common with older transmissions is the valve body and the solenoids. This means that you don’t need to have very complex planetary gear sets like in regular old-school transmissions.
This simplicity makes them a lot cheaper to get them rebuilt. Still, in some cases, the cost to rebuild them is close to buying a completely new unit. It depends on the brand and the amount and type of damage. And this is why a lot of owners are asking themselves whether it’s possible (or feasible) to rebuild the transmission or replace it with a new unit.
And we can honestly say, that if the transmission is more worth replacing, you should go this route and get a brand-new transmission instead of doing a rebuild on your existing CVT transmission.
How Much Does it Cost To Rebuild a CVT Transmission?
Rebuilding a CVT transmission really depends on the type of transmission that we are talking about, as well as on the model of the car.
The prices for rebuilding the CVT transmission usually range between $1,500 and $3,000.
There is a big price difference because not every CVT transmission is the same. And also, some transmissions require a lot more labor involved in order to get them rebuilt.
Labor is expensive and some shops charge more. Almost the same as the cost of a new CVT transmission, while some shops will charge you less money.
This is why a lot of owners simply decide to replace the transmission with a new unit and don’t have to deal with issues later on. Since not every rebuild is good. There are cases where the CVT transmission gets rebuilt and fails after a few thousand miles.
That’s why we often advise that you go for a shop that will give you a long warranty if you opt to rebuild the CVT transmission of your car. A warranty will make you somewhat sure that you didn’t throw the money down the drain.
Since we are not only talking about the rebuilding costs of the transmission. First, the transmission has to come off, and then it can go to the shop, there are a lot of labor costs you need to account for. This will also cost you $1,000 if not more.
To put things into perspective, a rebuilt Nissan CVT transmission will cost you between $2,200 and $2,600. And with the labor and additional price, you will come at a total cost of $4,128. More about the cost you can read in the following link.
In addition to this, you should also take into consideration the longevity of the rebuilt transmission. This rebuilt CVT will not last as long as a new transmission.
Rebuilt CVT transmissions usually have 30% less lifespan compared to a completely new CVT transmission.
Can You Swap a CVT Transmission With a Manual?
The answer to this question is, yes. You can swap a CVT with a manual transmission. But there is a lot more to it than you would probably think.
The first thing that you want to make sure of is to learn if the car you want to swap the CVT for a manual did offer a manual transmission.
In other words, whether the engine in your car has ever been mated with a manual transmission. If that were the case, you will have smooth sailing, and you could do this swap pretty easily. Everything will bolt on (except the electronics, you may need a replacement ECU as well, but again, depends on the model of the vehicle).
But if you want to replace your existing CVT with a manual and the engine that you intend to convert with a manual has never come with a manual, you will have a hard time.
Why are we saying this? Well, because it is true. This transmission will not bolt onto the engine.
There are some companies that are doing these conversions. But this will cost you thousands of dollars. And if the car is not that expensive, it will be economically unfeasible to do this conversion.
That’s why, do your own research before you decide to swap the CVT with a manual and make sure that the engine is supporting this transmission.
If the engine supports the transmission, you will need the following parts: engine harness, new ECU, dash harness, pedal assembly for the clutch, master cylinder, new axles, shifter linkage, shifter boot, clutch and flywheel, and other small bits and pieces.
You can read more in the following link where an owner wants to swap the CVT of his Nissan Juke with a manual.
On modern cars that have computers, you will also need to change to software in order to make this conversion possible.
Mainly because the old software will not like to work with the new transmission. This is why a lot of these transmission swaps are not that DIY friendly and require a lot of experience.
Is it Worth Rebuilding a CVT Transmission?
The answer to this question really depends. Some people are for it and some are against rebuilding a CVT transmission.
Even though it might be cheaper to rebuild a transmission instead of replacing it with a new unit, this transmission will not last as a new transmission. The lifespan will be shorter compared to a new transmission. That is the first point.
If you plan on selling the vehicle, rebuilding the CVT transmission might be the way to go.
The second reason why you should buy a new one is the waiting time. For example, if you opt for a rebuild, you will highly likely have to wait on parts and also wait until the transmission is shipped back and forth.
This is very valuable time. You just want the car to be up and running the next day. So, going for a new transmission is really good because you will get the new transmission and replace it immediately.
Luckily, there are some dealerships that have refurbished transmissions available. Since for example, Nissan models often have problems with CVT transmissions, having an offer from the dealership for a rebuilt unit should also come into consideration.
It will be a lot cheaper compared to a completely new transmission and you will also have a warranty on it. This is why a lot of people are doing it, they just get a rebuilt transmission through one of the dealerships instead of doing everything by themselves.
And this is the recommended route if you plan to fix the car, drive it for a while and sell it to a new owner. You will save time and money by going for a rebuilt transmission.
If you plan to drive the car for many years in the future, we would advise that you replace the transmission with a new unit. Since this new transmission will last significantly longer.
How Long Does A Rebuilt CVT Transmission Last?
This really depends on how well the rebuild was done to the transmission. In some cases, if the rebuild was done poorly, the transmission will start to develop issues much quicker than expected. After a few thousand miles, you will start having issues again.
But if the rebuild job is done right, a rebuilt CVT transmission should last as good as a new transmission. This is about 100,000 to 150,000 miles (ca. 241,402 km).
But some problematic transmissions have short lifespans, like the Nissan CVTs for example.
Even if you rebuild one of these, you will highly likely not be able to squeeze more than 40,000 miles from it. These transmissions from the factory only last for 50,000 to 80,000 miles.
This is why we would often avoid Nissan CVT transmissions if possible. Since they break down all the time. Especially the first generations of these transmissions. Newer Nissan CVTs last for a longer period but they are still not comparable to Honda or Toyota vehicles.
So, if you can afford a Honda or a Toyota, go for it because you will be less likely to experience some of these issues with the transmission repeating over and over again.
Can You Buy a Used CVT Transmission?
Yes, you can buy a used CVT transmission. There are a lot of places that are parting out cars and selling used components, including transmissions.
You can even find them on eBay for prices of $695 on the low end and up to $2,000 on the high end.
Remember that these are used parts, they have mileage on them, and in most cases, you don’t know the mileage (and if you do know it, there is no way to check if it’s real) and you don’t know even if they work at all.
There are a lot of sketchy sellers out there that want to make a quick buck and sell you something that doesn’t work.
This is why we would not recommend that you opt for a used CVT. Especially if we are talking about some Nissan CVTs. These transmissions fail all the time (or at least they used to).
This is why it is recommended that you at least purchase a rebuilt unit instead of going for a used one. The rebuilt unit will definitely last a lot longer, especially if you purchase one with a good warranty on it. And most of the rebuilt ones, they already come with a warranty.
How To Increase The Lifespan Of A Rebuilt CVT Transmission?
Another thing that a lot of owners are asking themselves is how to increase the lifespan of a rebuilt transmission. What can you do in order to get the maximum life from your rebuilt CVT?
The first thing first is the inclusion of quality parts in the rebuild. Quality parts will guarantee that this transmission will last and cutting corners will be avoided.
Also, not every CVT is a good candidate for a rebuild. There are some transmissions that are too worn out to be rebuilt.
So, the technician needs to know which transmission he should rebuild and properly examine the transmission beforehand.
Even if the rebuilding process is done right to one of these transmissions, the transmission will not last for a long time.
And also, the rebuilding process has to be done professionally and the technician should really put his mind to the work and do everything up to factory spec.
And last is the owner who gets this transmission. The owner should always make sure that the CVT transmission fluid is topped off at the normal level.
The fluid should also be replaced at the recommended mileage in order to avoid damage.
And last but not least, the owner has to be careful not to overload this transmission. A simple way to ruin a CVT or any transmission is to simply tow a heavy cargo and break the transmission.
CVTs are a type of transmission that does not want heavy loads and if you overload the vehicle, the transmission will be the first component to suffer the toll of this way of driving.
Never tow with these transmissions if you want to get the maximum lifespan from them.
Now let’s sum up our conclusions really quickly. The answer to the question of whether can CVT transmissions be rebuilt is, yes. You can rebuild a CVT transmission.
But in our opinion, it is a much better idea to purchase an already rebuilt CVT transmission and avoid dealing with all the troubles of doing things all by yourself.
This includes shipping the transmission to be sorted out and then waiting weeks, even months in some cases when you can take one off the shelf, already rebuilt, and save a ton of money. In the end, the price difference will not be something significant. Sometimes it is worth paying a bit more than losing a lot of valuable time.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
CVT transmission is a continuously variable transmission. This means that this transmission has a variable gear set and basically infinite gear ratios. The transmission works with the help of two pulleys that are driven by a steel belt.
The pulleys are variable. They contract and expand, increasing and decreasing the load. Thus, delivering the right gear ratio for the throttle input.
These transmissions only have one gear for the forward and a single planetary gear set for the reverse.
Does A CVT Transmission Have A Torque Converter?
Yes, CVT transmissions have torque converters. But not all of them. Some of them do not have a torque converter. For example, Honda uses a wet clutch that is similar to the one found in the classical automatic transmission. While Nissan CVTs, on the other hand, are using a regular torque converter.
How Much Does A CVT Replacement Cost On A Nissan?
A CVT replacement on a Nissan costs about $4,100. This is the price with the parts and labor. A lot of Nissan dealerships have rebuilt transmissions that are installed on cars. These transmissions come at this price. If you go for a new transmission, you will have to pay anywhere between $4,100 and $8,000 to replace this component with parts and labor.
This is why if you plan to drive this car for a while, you might opt to get a new transmission. It might be more on the expensive side. But a new transmission should last at least 80,000 miles on a Nissan instead of the 40,000 miles for a rebuilt transmission. This is why if you want to go on the cheaper route, go for a rebuilt/refurbished, if you want to go on the safer route, go for a completely new unit.