Toyota CVT Transmission Problems

Toyota is known for its reliability and overall great craft as a brand. The Toyota Group comprises capable companies with a long history of fruitful care parts. However, no matter how reliable a car is, it will end up having some issues. Those we’ll cover are Toyota CVT transmission problems.

Toyota automatic transmission


Automatic transmission systems are used in internal combustion engine-based motor vehicles, requiring no direct input from the driver to switch gears in regular driving conditions. The system itself is composed out of transmission, axle, and differential.

The entire assembly of this transmission is composed of the parts mentioned above, with certain ones including different components.

There are a couple of types of automatic transmission. This includes hydraulic automatic, continuously variable transmission, automated manual transmissions, and dual-clutch transmission.

Among these types, we’ll cover continuously variable transmission, or CVT for short. [1]

Toyota CVT

Among the various series of automatic transmissions, the Toyota CVT series is one of the wider used ones in Toyota automobiles. These transmission systems are manufactured by one of the Toyota Group’s members, Aisin. Aisin is one of the Fortune 500 companies and a NASCAR sponsor. This pedigree is often found in their key product, that being car transmissions.

These transmissions are usually well known for their pulling power, but reliability has been questioned a few times. Toyota automatic transmissions are especially common showcases of potential issues these car parts can cause.

Toyota CVT transmission problems


The problems with Toyota’s CVT are a concern that impacts both the power and safety of a car. These issues can occur in small and big ways, so it’s paramount to pay extra attention to preventing them.

Problems will start appearing at different intervals. This variability stems from the type of problem and its triggers.


The first and most common Toyota CVT transmission problem is overheating. Overheating will occur due to the overloading of transmission lines. The causes of the overheating overall can be twofold.

The first reason overheating occurs is driving at very high speeds for a long time. It will overwork the car and make it likelier for the transmission to wear out. However, this is a smaller problem that can be managed with drivers being careful and wary of the problem.

The bigger problem comes in the form of a coolant leak. Usually, the leak will occur in the belt unit that is supposed to keep the temperature of CVT systems down. Coolant leak is a potent problem that can spiral out of control and needs to be immediately dealt with.

The drivers can find a partial resolution of the problem in the car itself. Toyota cars have built-in failsafe mode, which will cut down the RPM available. This failsafe can be pushed through by the driver, although it is heavily advised not to do so. [2]

Odd sounds

Automatic transmissions share one common and similar issue. This issue is the odd sounds that can be heard from the car. The sounds can be anything from clicking, wheezing, or other sounds that may indicate the chugging of the systems in the car. Should you spot this issue, it could be a sign that some of your components may soon stop working.

The causes can be plentiful, but some general ones include CVT fluid being overfilled or even the wrong fluid being poured into the car. Aside from odd sounds, you may also notice shifting is also difficult with the car.

Rarely do car problems have only a single cause. The same goes for these sounds. The second cause can be a gearbox that has been cracked or damaged. The damage itself sometimes occurs due to harsh roads our car may be driving on.

Control Module Issues

The technology behind these CVT systems can be rather sophisticated, making them prone to problems. In addition, slight mistakes that occur in such systems can lead to malfunctions much faster. However, the issues found here can also impact a few other parts of the vehicle making this an issue well worth looking over.

Transmission issues that will most indicate this problem are sudden shifts that drivers cannot properly control. The dangers of this go without saying, but the potential cost it can bring is also something we shouldn’t ignore. Taking both into account should keep us wary when this problem crops up.

Chain or rope slipping

The slipping and sliding problems are noticeable immediately as they occur. This will be most apparent with the RPM indicator rising and falling without affecting our speed. The signs may be obvious, but the issues that stem from them won’t be as simple.

The most common are chain or rope slipping or breaking, which means more issues. They need immediate care, or the issues will cause the transmission to fail.

Cold is your gearbox’s greatest enemy. The significant cold may make a CVT gearbox experience cold shrinkage, which can make components of the box work far worse than usual. Having issues going in reverse is usually another showcase of this gearbox issue, so it is advised to take note of it.

Toyota CVT solutions

Every problem has a solution present as well. It includes more general tips on helping the vehicle. These should be used consistently and have benefits that go far beyond Toyota CVT., which is fruitful as keeping the health of an entire car is important.

Put enough fluid into the car

The car requires frequent enough changes of transmission fluid. This way, we can keep our car running for far longer, maintaining the health of our transmission.

These are important traits to ensure for our car if we want our Toyota CVT to be healthy. Of course, any handling help is appreciated, but this simple maintenance will help our car immensely.

Do be careful with the fluids you pour into your car. Knowing the correct fluids to insert into the car is important. Should we use the wrong one, the car itself could be harmed. Do not let the fluid nearly run out, as this can also cause problems and a shorter lifespan. [4]

Good driving habits

While this is just general driving advice, it comes into importance the most when it comes to avoiding problems with the Toyota CVT transmission system. Good driving habits, like driving in B gear while going uphill, will allow drivers to avoid straining the car in unadvisable ways by general manufacturers and professionals.

Aggressive driving isn’t something Toyota CVT transmission system is made for. Instead, they ask for car-friendly drivers ready to take it a bit easier on the vehicle. Unfortunately, the drivers who push the CVT transmission will usually find them broken in a rather short span of time. [5]

Operating the vehicle poorly on a technical level can also impact the longevity of the CVT. The process of learning about our car is important and should be the focus of any driver willing to improve the reliability of their vehicle.

Have regular checks

The CVT transmission should have general maintenance and inspection done every once in a while. Usually, it’s recommended to commit to one every 30,000 miles to avoid any issues that may happen to the components.

Of course, doing them more frequently doesn’t hurt either, especially if you are a more aggressive driver.

Should any components be damaged, we should aim to replace them fast. The damage to internal components of a transmission system can result in a knock on effects. Usually, one part of the CVT failing will make the others quickly showcase failure symptoms.

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Toyota CVT transmission system reliability

The Toyota transmission systems have been rated high in reliability. Although issues such as the ones we’ve noted can crop up, their performance is quite admirable.

Of course, the problems will be partially caused by the driving style employed with these cars. Toyota CVT transmission systems can score as high as 5/5 in terms of reliability, but that doesn’t mean the problems and suggestions above are any less legitimate. Here are some Toyota models with good reliability rating to showcase it.

Model name Reliability score
Toyota Yaris 4.5 out of 5.0
Toyota RAV4 4.0 out of 5.0
Toyota Vitz 4.0 out of 5.0
Toyota Axio 4.0 out of 5.0
Toyota Highlander 4.0 out of 5.0
Toyota Camry 4.0 out of 5.0
Toyota Estima 4.5 out of 5.0
Toyota Corolla 4.5 out of 5.0

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When all is said and done, CVT transmission systems in Toyota cars remain potent in their function but have some downfalls that could generally make the car suffer. Problems are very apparent when they appear, expressing themselves in a few different ways.

These would most often be issues with overheating and proper switching of gears. Each brought on by aggressive driving but nonetheless problematic for the health of the car.

We can see the issues worsen, leading to total collapse of certain systems within the car. This knock on effect is the reason why a lot of the problems need to be resolved even if they appear as mere nuisances currently. Hence why following through with some or all of the given solutions is more than recommended.