My old Norton smashed the gearbox casing without any help from some metal bands...... The Honda CVT is de rigeur in Japan. I don't think the Jazz has any of the problems alluded to, and the reliability record of Honda is pretty good. Ask Honda sites.
I gather the Japanese CVT's are fairly reliable. From an engineering standpoint the whole idea of a CVT is a bit dodgy (lot of power going through small contact area - any slip = rapid heat build up). I would never buy one.
I know my question is very much a case of 'what ifs', but what, from an engineering position, would you expect the maximum useful life (mileage) of a CVT system to be?
In addition, what is the best way of keeping it in one piece - are regular ATF changes (using OEM fluid (Tutela in my case - Fiat Speedgear with 21,000 miles)) a good start?
Really that's impossible to say because of the number of variables involved - I would only say "less than a manual or conventional automatic transmission". They certainly don't have a good reliability history.
Regular changes of fluid are a good thing. Things likely to kill them are hard driving (I twisting hilly roads, lots of braking an acceleration, towing etc) - basically anything that increases the load through the transmission will likely shorten its life. In the event that it does start to play up then stop driving the car immediately. Once the belt starts to slip then heat build up is very rapid indeed, swarf is thrown into the oil and the thing will catastrophically fail.
Thanks, Aprilia. Very useful information. Most of my driving is a round-trip commute of c. 50 miles mainly on good, straight B roads and about 10 miles of motorway. Excuse my ignorance, but when you say 'play up', what warning signs should I be looking for?