Cold engine/ CVT tranny = delayed upshifts?

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Thread: Cold engine/ CVT tranny = delayed upshifts?

  1. #1
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    Cold engine/ CVT tranny = delayed upshifts?

    Howdy everyone,

    Hope you're all doing well out there in XVland.

    So I've got about 1500 miles on the car now and I've noticed something a bit odd. Temperature is about 35 - 40 degrees F. I start the car up and of course, get the standard stupidly high revs. Let the car sit for a minute and start to drive. When the car is cold, I've begun the practice of manually shifting the CVT. Having been a diesel driver for many years, I always like to shift at low rpms as possible. Anyway, I'm using the paddles, shifting up and eventually get to 6th gear and 60mph. However, the tach is showing me 2500 rpms which is about 800 rpms higher than is usual on flat highway @ 60mph. And yeah, I pay strict attention to the tach at highway (and other speeds) so I'm sure of the numbers. Now, when the car gets well and truly warmed up, the tach shows 1700rpm at 60. Am I overly concerned or is this transmission holding on to the lower gears too long before shifting up? This phenomenon has caused me to abandon allowing the car to shift itself because it never seems to want to get out of 5th gear - even on the flats.

    Thanks very much for your comments.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Sandi's Avatar
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    I think it's because you manually shift the CVT when it's cold. You are not letting the computer control the warm up. I can't think why you need to manually shift from start up, when most people only use the paddles to change down up a hill or maybe to overtake.

    I have been told also that the computer adjusts the CVT to your driving style, especially when the car is new.
    I would let it do it's own thing on start up.😃


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    The reason I use the paddles when the car/motor/tranny is cold is for two reasons. First, as I said above, I'm accustomed from both driving diesels and gas cars, to shift at lower rpms than a lot of people do. This is an effort to maximize fuel efficiency. The second reason is because when I allow the car to shift "automatically" I'm seeing rpms of not just 2500 rpms as mentioned above but 3500 rpms in 5th gear. That's...a little high.

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  6. #4
    No, 3.5k rpm isn't very high for this engine. Look at the engine specs. It's not a low-revving torque monster. Expect the car to hit 4k fairly regularly when accelerating. Let the CVT do it's job. It's programmed for economy. I average 28-29mpg with mostly city driving and only use the paddles for compression braking on hills. (Or when off road). The car is loud and the mechanical noise can throw you. But it's normal for this car.
    '15 XV Hybrid touring, Crystal Black Silica
    '13 XV, Ice Silver Metallic, CVT. (traded for above)

  7. #5
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    When left to its own devices, the CVT will hold lower ratios when the engine is cold in order to speed the warm-up. This has two benefits: emissions and fuel economy. On the emissions side, forcing the engine to rev a little higher gets the catalytic converters up to operating temperature more quickly. On the fuel economy side, a cold engine is usually programmed to run rich and ignore feedback from the different emissions-related sensors around the engine and in the exhaust system, also in an effort to speed the cat warm-up. Once out of this warm-up mode, the engine starts listening to its sensors and stops running rich. This warm-up cycle isn't specific to Subaru...all manufacturers do something similar. It's just more noticeable on a Subie because the CVT gets into the act and keeps revs higher.

    Leave it in drive and watch what happens. While the blue cold-temp light is on, the revs will be quite a bit higher than normal. For a short time after the light goes out, revs will approach normal but still be a little high. After about 5 minutes or so, it'll be warmed up and the CVT will try to keep the revs as low as possible. At least that's what mine does every morning.

  8. #6
    I was very happy to stumble across this post. I test drove the '13 Crosstrek limited that I'm buying from the dealer I work at yesterday. Having never driven a crosstrek before, and being used to my wife's 13 Hyundai Sonata, the RPM's seemed very high to me in the crosstrek, but it rode and drove very nice.

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    Here's an explanation for the high revs I wrote in a previous post. Alas I'm too lazy to recreate it from scratch.
    Quote Originally Posted by giggabotch View Post
    The reason for high revs when the engine is cold is rather mundane. When the engine is cold it's need s a richer mixture of air and gas in order to keep the engine from stalling. This is a function of the on board computer. Once the engine is warmed up it will burn fuel more efficiently and the mixture is adjusted.
    Because more gas is introduced during the warming process it is possible that gas could be introduced into the cylinder lining which in turn will break down the oil in the cylinder which would cause premature wear. So its recommended that you should drive you car soon after it's started in order to keep gas from being introduced into the cylinder and to warm the engine quicker which will bring your car to normal air gas mixture operation quickly.

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    Senior Member Butch_Coolidge's Avatar
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    Don't know if this applies,but I always wait until the blue light goes out and the revs go to normal. Obviously, the time varies according to temperature. Sometimes the revs kick up very briefly even if the blue light doesn't come on at start. I wait. I also have no use for the paddle shifters. My last car could be shifted also, but was automatic. I only ever used it in bad weather very briefly. That's just me, but if I wanted to shift, I would have bought a manual. I don't care what anyone says, it's got to cause some kind of premature wear. At the very least oil consumption. Maybe a Porsche is built for that. I don't believe these cars are. I have no complaints about the function of my ride.


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    Quote Originally Posted by XtrekDriver View Post
    The reason I use the paddles when the car/motor/tranny is cold is for two reasons. First, as I said above, I'm accustomed from both driving diesels and gas cars, to shift at lower rpms than a lot of people do. This is an effort to maximize fuel efficiency. The second reason is because when I allow the car to shift "automatically" I'm seeing rpms of not just 2500 rpms as mentioned above but 3500 rpms in 5th gear. That's...a little high.
    Well first, diesel engines are designed to run at lower RPMs, that's just the nature of the diesel engine. A gas engine should not necessarily be driven as a diesel engine. Second, your car does not have gears, it has ratios. The paddles provide pre-set ratio points to mimic a shift, the the ultimate ratio is still controlled by the ECU. Therefore while you may think you are in a particular gear, all you are doing is utilizing a pre-set range of ratios for that particular "gear." Finally, I am assuming you bought a CVT for a reason. It is very efficient, more so than the manual version, and if all you are looking for is efficiency, you should leave it to it's own devices. I've said it here before and got a lot of flak for it, but the paddles are there to give you an illusion of sportiness. It does absolutely nothing useful, other than maybe if you want to use engine braking. And a diesel engine produces peak torque at very low RPMs, which allows you to shift earlier. This car produces peak torque at quite high RPMs. If you shift too early, you are potentially lugging the engine and increasing oil consumption, causing pinging, and other damaging effects to your engine. Leave the car to it's own devices, or get a manual transmission.

  12. #10
    And don't idle the engine before taking off. Go right away. Idling just wastes fuel and keeps the engine running longer when cold. An engine warms up faster under a light load. The CVT/computer combo is smarter than the average driver. It won't let you choose a harmful setting, and will prioritize fuel economy unless you really step on the gas to "tell' it you really need power over economy for a bit.

    I got my first automatic transmission when I was 60 years old because of bad knees. I rode a motorcycle until I was 70. I know manual transmissions. I feel no urge to improve upon the CVT's choice of ratios. The only thing I wish was different is the tranny's programming to make it sound like it is shifting gears to make driver's feel familiar with the way it works. I'd rather do an active education campaign the educate drivers about how CVTs work best and let the thing choose exactly the best ratio at all times. I guess that's a pipe dream as car magazine guys always complain about wanting more power while universally hating CVTs.

    Fuel economy numbers are better than ever and CVTs regularly get better fuel economy than manuals of the same make. Don't try to outguess them. Let them do the work they are programmed to do.

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