Continuously Variable Transmissions (or CVT) aren't a new concept. Leonardo Da Vinci sketched out the idea in 1490! But the realization of today's CVT took the thinking of today and the component technology of tomorrow.
The advances in material science leading to the development of high-powered, high-density rubber drive belts opened the gates for breakthrough operational reliability.
Of the companies who have made the most of this new technology, General Transmissions ranks as the pacesetter with its Element V Automatic product line. Their long term research and development efforts produced a product that caught the interest of key manufacturers.
Headquartered in France, this vibrant International company has facilities in the US, France, Mexico, and China. Check out the points of performance you can count on from GT.
Q. How often do I need to change oil in my CVT?
A. Never! All General Transmissions CVTs come pre-lubricated for life. And there are no oil filters or seals to replace either. In fact the lubricant is semi liquid grease, not oil.
Q. What are the service intervals?
A. Cross this one off your to-do list once and for all. You won't need to schedule service for your GT CVT, since they're built to be free of regular maintenance servicing.
Q. Do I need to grease any parts of the CVT occasionally?
A. No, all fittings and linkages are greased for life before leaving the factory. Did we mention that GT CVTs are maintenance-free?
Q. What components may need adjustment?
A. All components are factory pre-set at optimum levels, for the life of the machine. Nevertheless, to ensure optimal life time of the tractor and transmission, and trouble free operation, we recommend that you check periodically for any debris that may get stuck between moving parts, and to check that the control rods that connect the pedals and handles to the transmission, are tightened correctly.
Q. Can a CVT-equipped tractor tow a trailer?
A. CVTs are capable of transmitting high torque for long periods, which makes them ideal for towing a typical home owner garden trailer even when your garden has some slopes. The actual towable weight will depend on the tractor size and engine power. Check the operator’s manual that came with your tractor for specific guidelines on towing capacities.
Q. Does the CVT belt need replacement?
A. Our belts are made of heavy-duty rubber designed to last the life of the machine.
Q. What is the difference between RS and RT models?
A. Both models employ GT’s proprietary Element V CVT system – GT’s unique adaptation of the continuously variable transmission technology for lawn tractors, mowers and snow blowers. Thus they are more alike than they are different. That said, the main difference is in operating capacity. The RT400 can handle tractors weighing up to 500 pounds, and wheel sizes up to 20 inches in diameter. The RS800 can support tractors weighing up to 650 pounds, with wheel sizes of as much as 22 inches in diameter, depending on overall tractor weight. The main difference is in the controls: The RS features a single control, meaning that clutching, speed selection, speed adjustment, and brake are all done via one single pedal (or lever according to the tractor). The RT uses two separate controls: one lever to select forward and reverse, and a pedal for clutching and speed adjustment. With those two different models, GT can equip most tractors sold for residential use in the United States.
Q. Which tractors use GT CVT transmissions?
A. This question is a bit like asking parents to call out their favorite child from among their brood of two or more children. Much as we’d like to name names, we have to defer to our customers and their own marketing programs. We do sell our transmissions to virtually every major lawn tractor manufacturer serving the United States market. Many of our customers market their CVT-equipped lawn tractors as having “automatic” transmissions. You can often find more specific information about the type of transmission for a specific tractor model by reading customer reviews on the websites of the different brands of lawn tractors. We also encourage you to ask the sales people to tell you which of their offered models come equipped with GT CVTs. We’ve seen a real surge in demand for our CVTs from the major brands over the last couple of years – so it’s likely that many retailers will stock several GT CVT-equipped models on their showroom floors.
Q. Can you upgrade an existing mechanical or hydrostatic tractor with a CVT?
A. Installing a CVT in a tractor isn’t “plug-and-play”….it takes a good deal of team work with the OEM to make the necessary adaptations to the tractor and its controls. So unfortunately, you cannot retrofit a CVT in a tractor equipped with a different type of transmission.
Q. What is the maximum slope a CVT can handle?
A. How steep of a slope a CVT-equipped tractor can tackle depends on a variety of factors, including engine power, the types of tires (and their condition), and the overall weight of a particular machine in addition to the transmission. Be sure to review your operating manual to see what the manufacturer specifies for your model. Some manufacturers advise limiting use of lawn tractors to slopes of no more than 15 degrees; others say that their tractors can be used safely on steep slopes.
Q. What happens if something goes wrong with the transmission? Can parts be replaced – and if so, is this something that tractor and snow blower owners can typically handle themselves?
A. First, let’s set the record straight on whether our CVTs are repairable. In fact, they are – and it’s a pretty straightforward job for someone with the right tools and mechanical background. That said, working to repair a damaged GT CVT may not be something that the average homeowner can tackle on their own. Even though CVTs are not overly complicated to work on, specialized tools are required for repair jobs. If a transmission-related problem arises with your GT CVT-equipped lawn tractor or snow blower, we recommend having it serviced by a professional lawn care equipment mechanic. Call the dealer who sold you the product to see if they have a service department that can handle it.
Q. Does the CVT snow blower transmission need to warm up in cold weather before tackling the snow?
A. Ladies and gentlemen, feel free to start your snow blower engines up and go! Our CVTs are made to go from the get-go. If you want to finish that cup of coffee first, that’s your business. Just know that our transmissions are ready to roll anytime.
Q. Can I run the snow blower CVT even in bitterly cold weather – 10 below zero?
A. Bring on those Arctic vortexes! If you’ve got a GT CVT-equipped snow blower, you can trust it to blast away the snow no matter how cold it gets.
Q. How many acres of lawn can a CVT handle – 2 acres? 5 acres? 10 acres?
A. How many acres do you want to cut? Many lawn mower manufacturers recommend that you use a lawn tractor if you have three-quarters of an acre or more of grass to cut. Generally speaking, the types of lawn tractors equipped with GT CVTs today are capable of handling lawns of up to approximately five acres. That’s not to say you can’t use your lawn tractor for larger lawns (or those smaller than three-quarters of an acre in size either, for that matter).
Q. How does the automatic parking brake work?
A. The RT 400 and RS 800 come with an integrated automatic parking brake, which is activated when the transmission is in neutral. In case of the RS 800 pedal controlled version, the transmission will go to neutral when the pedal is fully released. With the lever controlled versions (RS 800 F and TR 400), the operator has to shift the lever into neutral position. For maximum safety, whenever the tractor is immobilized, we recommend that you also apply the parking brake of the tractor, especially when the tractor is on a slope.