Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 9


Most people know that cars come with two basic transmission types:manuals, which
require that the driver change gears by depressing a clutch pedal and using a stick
shift, and automatics, which do all of the shifting work for drivers usingclutches,
a torque converter and sets of planetary gears. But there's also something in
between that offers the best of both worlds -- thedual-clutch transmission, also
called the semi-automatic transmission, the "clutchless" manual transmission and
the automated manual transmission.
In the world of racecars, semi-automatic transmissions, such as the sequential
manual gearbox(or SMG), have been a staple for years. But in the world of
production vehicles, it's a relatively new technology -- one that is being defined by a
very specific design known as the dual-clutch, or direct-shift, gearbox.
This article will explore how a dual-clutch transmission works, how it compares to
other types of transmissions and why some predict that it is the transmission of the

Hands-On or Hands-Off
A dual-clutch transmission offers the function of two manual gearboxes in one. To

understand what this means, it's helpful to review how a conventional manual
gearbox works. When a driver wants to change from one gear to another in a
standard stick-shift car, he first presses down the clutch pedal. This operates a single
clutch, which disconnects the engine from the gearbox and interrupts power flow to
the transmission. Then the driver uses the stick shift to select a new gear, a process
that involves moving a toothed collar from one gear wheel to another gear wheel of a
different size. Devices called synchronizers match the gears before they are
engaged to prevent grinding. Once the new gear is engaged, the driver releases the
clutch pedal, which re-connects the engine to the gearbox and transmits power to
the wheels.
So, in a conventional manual transmission, there is not a continuous flow of power
from the engine to the wheels. Instead, power delivery changes
from on to off to on during gearshift, causing a phenomenon known as "shift shock"
or "torque interrupt." For an unskilled driver, this can result in passengers being
thrown forward and back again as gears are changed.
A dual-clutch gearbox, by contrast, uses two clutches, but has no clutch pedal.
Sophisticated electronics and hydraulics control the clutches, just as they do in a
standard automatic transmission. In a DCT, however, the clutches operate
independently. One clutch controls the odd gears (first, third, fifth and reverse), while
the other controls the even gears (second, fourth and sixth). Using this arrangement,
gears can be changed without interrupting the power flow from the engine to the
transmission. Sequentially, it works like this:
Dual-clutch Transmission Shafts
A two-part transmission shaft is at the heart of a DCT. Unlike a conventional manual
gearbox, which houses all of its gears on a single input shaft, the DCT splits up odd
and even gears on two input shafts. How is this possible? The outer shaft is
hollowed out, making room for an inner shaft, which is nested inside. The outer
hollow shaft feeds second and fourth gears, while the inner shaft feeds first, third and
The diagram below shows this arrangement for a typical five-speed DCT. Notice that
one clutch controls second and fourth gears, while another, independent clutch
controls first, third and fifth gears. That's the trick that allows lightning-fast gear
changes and keeps power delivery constant. A standard manual transmission can't
do this because it must use one clutch for all odd and even gears.

Multi-plate Clutches
Because a dual-clutch transmission is similar to an automatic, you might think that it
requires a torque converter, which is how an automatic transfers engine torque from
the engine to the transmission. DCTs, however, don't require torque converters.
Instead, DCTs currently on the market use wet multi-plate clutches. A "wet" clutch is
one that bathes the clutch components in lubricating fluid to reduce friction and limit
the production of heat. Several manufacturers are developing DCTs that use dry
clutches, like those usually associated with manual transmissions, but all production
vehicles equipped with DCTs today use the wet version. Many motorcycles have
single multi-plate clutches.

Like torque converters, wet multi-plate clutches use hydraulic pressure to drive the
gears. The fluid does its work inside the clutch piston, seen in the diagram above.
When the clutch is engaged, hydraulic pressure inside the piston forces a set of coil
springs part, which pushes a series of stacked clutch plates and friction discs against
a fixed pressure plate. The friction discs have internal teeth that are sized and
shaped to mesh with splineson the clutch drum. In turn, the drum is connected to the
gearset that will receive the transfer force. Audi's dual-clutch transmission has both a
small coil spring and a large diaphragm spring in its wet multi-plate clutches.
To disengage the clutch, fluid pressure inside the piston is reduced. This allows the
piston springs to relax, which eases pressure on the clutch pack and pressure plate.
Pros and Cons of Dual-clutch Transmissions
Hopefully it's becoming clear why the DCT is classified as an automated manual
transmission. In principle, the DCT behaves just like a standard manual
transmission: It's got input and auxiliary shafts to house gears, synchronizers and a
clutch. What it doesn't have is a clutch pedal, because computers, solenoids and

hydraulics do the actual shifting. Even without a clutch pedal, the driver can still "tell"
the computer when to take action through paddles, buttons or a gearshift.
Driver experience, then, is just one of the many advantages of a DCT. With upshifts
taking a mere 8 milliseconds, many feel that the DCT offers the most dynamic
acceleration of any vehicle on the market. It certainly offers smooth acceleration by
eliminating the shift shock that accompanies gearshifts in manual transmissions and
even some automatics. Best of all, it affords drivers the luxury of choosing whether
they prefer to control the shifting or let the computer do all of the work.
Perhaps the most compelling advantage of a DCT is improved fuel economy.
Because power flow from the engine to the transmission is not interrupted, fuel
efficiency increases dramatically. Some experts say that a six-speed DCT can deliver
up to a 10 percent increase in relative fuel efficiency when compared to a
conventional five-speed automatic.
Many car manufacturers are interested in DCT technology. However, some
automakers are wary of the additional costs associated with modifying production
lines to accommodate a new type of transmission. This could initially drive up the
costs of cars outfitted with DCTs, which might discourage cost-conscious consumers.
In addition, manufacturers are already investing heavily in alternate transmission
technologies. One of the most notable is the continuously variable transmission, or
CVT. A CVT is a type of automatic transmission that uses a moving pulley system
and a belt or chain to infinitely adjust the gear ratio across a wide range. CVTs also
reduce shift shock and increase fuel efficiency significantly. But CVTs can't handle
the high torque demands of performance cars.
DCTs don't have such issues and are ideal for high-performance vehicles. In Europe,
where manual transmissions are preferred because of their performance and fuel
efficiency, some predict that DCTs will capture 25 percent of the market. Just one
percent of cars produced in Western Europe will be fitted with a CVT by 2012.

Dual-clutch Transmissions: Past, Present and Future

The man who invented the dual-clutch gearbox was a pioneer in automotive
engineering. Adolphe Kgresse is best known for developing the half-track, a type of
vehicle equipped with endless rubber treads allowing it to drive off-road over various
forms of terrain. In 1939, Kgresse conceived the idea for a dual-clutch gearbox,
which he hoped to use on the legendary Citron "Traction" vehicle. Unfortunately,
adverse business circumstances prevented further development.

Both Audi and Porsche picked up on the dual-clutch concept, although its use was
limited at first to racecars. The 956 and 962C racecars included the Porsche Dual
Klutch, or PDK. In 1986, a Porsche 962 won the Monza 1000 Kilometer World
Sports Prototype Championship race -- the first win for a car equipped with the PDK
semi-automatic paddle-shifted transmission. Audi also made history in 1985 when a
Sport quattro S1 rally car equipped with dual-clutch transmission won the Pikes Peak
hill climb, a race up the 4,300-meter-high mountain.
Commercialization of the dual-clutch transmission, however, has not been feasible
until recently. Volkswagen has been a pioneer in dual-clutch transmissions, licensing
BorgWarner's DualTronic technology. European automobiles equipped with DCTs
include the Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Touran, and Jetta as well as the Audi TT and
A3; the Skoda Octavia; and the Seat Altea, Toledo and Leon.

Volkswagon Jetta 2.0

Photo courtesy VM Media Room
Ford is the second major manufacturer to commit to dual-clutch transmissions, made
by Ford of Europe and its 50/50 joint venture transmission manufacturer, GETRAGFord. It demonstrated the Powershift System, a six-speed dual-clutch transmission,
at the 2005 Frankfurt International Motor Show. However, production vehicles using
a first generation Powershift are approximately two years away.
How long does a clutch last?
Clutches wear out. In fact, it's common for a clutch to be replaced before a car reaches the end of its
lifespan. That's because clutches experience a certain amount of wear and tear in the normal course
of use. Predicting how long a clutch will last, however, is like solving a complex equation with lots of
variables. Any of those variables can make a big difference in how the equation comes out. You'll hear
stories about clutches that last more than 100,000 miles (160,934 kilometers) and other stories about
clutches that wear out in less than 30,000 (48,280 kilometers).

Auto mechanics at dealerships and private firms, like AAMCO, for example, give differing estimates
for the average lifetime of a clutch on an average car such as a Nissan Sentra, some estimating it as
low as 20,000 to 50,000 miles (32,187 to 80,467 kilometers) and others estimating it at more than
100,000 miles (160,934 kilometers), but this depends on how carefully you use your clutch. It also
depends on how hot the climate is and on the type of car you drive. If you live in a hot climate, the
transmission fluid will typically run hot and tend to burn out the parts more quickly.
Jeff Confer, service manager at Lou Fusz Nissan-Mazda in St. Louis, has the most optimistic take on
clutch life. Although he's seen clutches die in less than 30,000 miles (48,280 kilometers), he has
frequently seen them last longer than 125,000 miles (201,168 kilometers) and even more than
175,000 miles (281,635 kilometers) under proper use.
Basically, the less work you require your clutch to do, the longer it's likely to survive. Assuming you
aren't a race car driver who has to make a lot of fancy gear changes in a hurry, or a truck driver
hauling heavy rigs over mountain ranges where gravity is going to put a lot of pressure on your
transmission, there are a few dos and don'ts that will help your clutch survive.
Don't use the clutch when you don't need to. When you pull up to a traffic light and expect to sit for
more than 10 seconds, don't use the clutch as a way of making the car stand still. Instead, take your
car out of gear, put your foot on the brake and let your transmission rest in neutral until the light is
ready to change. That'll give your clutch a well-needed break instead of keeping constant pressure on
Even more importantly, don't ride the clutch pedal as a way of controlling the speed of your car. That's
what the accelerator and brakes are for. Yes, you can cause your clutch to slow down and speed up
by modulating the pedal between the fully depressed and fully released positions, but this can take
years off your clutch's lifetime. In general, you want your clutch pedal either all the way up or all the
way down. Don't keep it in the in-between position any longer than you have to.
If you follow these rules, you'll certainly get a 50,000-mile (80,467-kilometer) lifetime out of your clutch
and maybe even a full 175,000 miles (281,635 kilometers). It's conceivable that you can get even
more than that -- some owners claim they've gotten a great deal more. But if you somehow manage to
make a single clutch last for more than 200,000 miles (321,869 kilometers), consider contacting the
Guinness Book of World Records. They just might have an opening for you.
For more information about clutches, transmissions and other related topics, follow the links on the
next page.

Dual Clutch Transmissions

June 8-9, 2010
ID# C1008
Dual Clutch Transmissions (DCTs) offer a number of advantages over other
transmission types including fuel economy, lower
material costs, and the potential to source a single transmission type
given the DCTs ability to satisfy drivers who prefer
smooth, refined automatics as well as sporting drivers who demand rapid
and snappy shift responses. As automakers begin
to embrace these advantages during the next decade, many auto industry
analysts agree that DCTs will continue to capture
market share.
By utilizing experts from Lubrizol, BorgWarner, Continental, Getrag, and
Valeo, this course addresses the design, electronic
controls, friction materials, and lubricants that comprise DCTs with an
emphasis on the technological innovations that offer
both advantages and challenges for the manufacturing and marketing of
DCTs. In addition, real-world case studies are used
to provide examples of successful implementation strategies. The course
concludes with a panel discussion around future
directions and insights into the growth and trends for DCTs.
Other features of this event include an innovative hands-on simulator and
technology displays to provide further DCT
understanding and user-experience data. In addition, the registration fee
includes lunch and refreshments both days along
with a special networking reception designed to provide ample
opportunity to interact with DCT experts and resolve questions.

Learning Objectives
By attending this course, you will be able to:
Identify the benefits of DCTs to the end user and the vehicle
Describe the differences between DCTs and other transmission types
Describe the characteristics of DCT controls and material designs
Discuss the growth potential of DCTs
Highlight the key strategies for successful implementation of DCTs in a
design plan