With its rising popularity, more cars are built with a dual-clutch transmission (or DCT) than ever before. Driver’s just can’t get enough of the smooth shifts and quick acceleration made possible by the DCT. Along with the many advantages of a dual-clutch transmission come the pitfalls if it’s mishandled. Dual-clutch transmissions are unique beasts and deserve special treatment. Here’s how a dual-clutch transmission works and some things that you should never do.
How DCT Works
The dual-clutch transmission brings together the best of both automatic and manual transmissions. It’s even technically classified as an automated manual transmission. It has all the components of a regular manual transmission (input and auxiliary shafts, a clutch, and synchronizers), except for the clutch pedal itself. In its place, a computer does the shifting for you.
Since some drivers love feeling in control of the shifting, vehicles with a DCT still include paddle shifters, a button, or a standard gearshift that allows drivers to tell the computer when to shift. While for some drivers, having a computer do most of the work for you takes out some of the fun, it makes for much smoother shifting, eliminating gear shock prevalent in both manual and automatic transmissions.
What makes the DCT shift so smoothly? It’s more than just because of the computer-operated system. Think of it as two manual transmissions working as a team. One of the gear shafts contains all of the even-numbered gears, while the other contains the odd numbered. While you’re accelerating in one gear, the system prepares the next gear on the other shaft. When you’ve accelerated enough to shift, the clutch controlling the other gear shaft engages at the same time that the previous shaft disengages. This seamless system ensures smooth shifting and quick acceleration.
What to Never Do to Your DCT
Dual-clutch transmission vehicles require some special treatment in order to avoid wear on the clutch. For example, try to avoid stop-and-go movements as much as possible. Slow lurching speeds prevent first gear from fully engaging, so the gear will slip, creating wear over time. You should also resist taking your foot off of the brake while on an incline. While you may be able to do this in an automatic vehicle, in a DCT, the clutch pack holds you in place rather than the torque in an automatic. The clutch pack may be able to hold you there, but doing so will apply unnecessary heat to the pack and contribute to unnecessary wear.
This final thing you should avoid doesn’t put actual wear on the vehicle, but it could be dangerous for you. Try to avoid down-shifting when accelerating and up-shifting when decelerating. Since the vehicle prepares gears based on whether you are accelerating or decelerating, shifting in the opposite direction will confuse the computer and slow down its reaction time. If that slower reaction times catches you unaware, it could be potentially dangerous on the road.
Dual-clutch transmissions put greater accelerating and smoother shifting in the hands of the driver. Just make sure that you take good care of this powerful technology. Happy driving!