The idea that the transmission industry is changing is hardly a new one. And it’s certainly an observation that everyone involved would agree with.
Nowhere is that change more evident than with the introduction of the continuously variable transmission, or CVT. Yeah, it still provides the connection between the engine and the drive wheels, just like the more familiar, planetary gear type transmission. But by any other standard, it’s a completely different animal than anything you’ve ever laid your eyes on.
If that isn’t enough, the CVT market is expanding: More and more cars and small trucks are coming equipped with a CVT, either as an option or standard package. No surprise there: CVTs are cheaper to build and are capable of providing better fuel economy than their more common siblings. Just what the manufacturers would want for their cars.
Not interested in working on CVTs? A lot of folks in transmission repair felt the same way about lockup converters and electronically controlled transmissions. Most of the shops with that attitude are long gone, replaced by those who were willing to step up and face the new technology head on.
But to meet those challenges, you need training. So Whatever It Takes (WIT) and Seal Aftermarket Products (SAP) have joined forces to create a hands-on training workshop that’s making its way around the country.
On December 7, from about 6PM to 9PM, ATRA’s Southwest Chapter hosted a CVT workshop for transmission shops in their area. Southwest Chapter President Ed Doyle was on hand to discuss the workshop.
“We had about 100 guys show up for the workshop, which was held in San Antonio at St Phillips College,” says Ed. “We fed everyone before the workshop began. When you add in the vendor reps, there were about 128 people there.”
And, according to Ed, a lot of those technicians weren’t just from a shop around the corner. “There were people who came from the Valley and Corpus Christy, and from up near Austin, and over toward College Station.” Some of them traveled a couple hundred miles or more to attend.
“The workshop was free, sponsored by Whatever It Takes and Seal Aftermarket Products. There were four workstations; all the guys huddled around the workstations and watched the trainer disassemble and reassemble a CVT.
“The transmissions they used were the Nissan RE9, 10, and 11,” explains Ed. These are among the most common CVTs on the market, but nearly all CVTs are extremely similar in construction, so once you have experience on these units, getting your hands into others won’t be that difficult.
“We tore them down and put them back together again over the course of about two hours, so the technicians could see everything. We allowed some of the guys to help while the process was taking place.
“ATRA’s Southwest Chapter made arrangements with the transmission automotive instructor at St Phillips College, Victor Aguilera, to provide the automotive tech lab at no charge.
“It was a free program for anyone who wanted to show up; get yourself a barbecue sandwich, chips, and a soda water. WIT paid for the food, and the workshop was sponsored in full by WIT and SAP. “
About 10 of the attendees were students at the college. We had a little meeting before the workshop where we talked about what ATRA is all about and that this is a viable industry to consider for their futures. We let them know that ATRA is the best trade association for tech information anywhere in the world. And we encouraged people to become ATRA Members.”
Of course, learning how to repair the CVT is only valuable if you have the parts and tools to rebuild these units. WIT was quick to remind those in attendance that they offer more CVT parts than any other parts distributor in the U.S.
“WIT also has the tools available to repair these transmissions,” says Ed. “They have a ratchet-lock arbor press — a fantastic press! Real easy to get it set up and move on down the road, to get the unit apart and back together again.
“They also offer the posi-lock pullers in the two different sizes that they recommend. And they had some tools that a technician can make, without having to spend money on specialty tools.
“They even have a little, black stress ball that you can use to keep the pulley separated while you install the belt; a nice little trick to get the CVT back together easily.”
The workshop included a manual that provides step-by-step rebuilding procedures, to help you work through your first CVT rebuild.
“ATRA’s Southwest Chapter would like to thank WIT, SAP, and St Phillips College for their participation in this workshop,” says Ed.
While WIT and SAP are generally offering their CVT workshop on a weeknight, ATRA has arranged to include this program as a part of some of their regional seminar programs. Check the schedule to see whether the CVT workshop will be part of the ATRA technical seminar coming to your area.
Sure, the industry’s changing. But one of the best ways to make sure you’ll always have a place in it is to keep up to date with the ATRA technical training seminars and the hands-on CVT program from WIT and SAP.