How a dual-clutch transmission works

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Manual transmissions seem to be disappearing from options lists across the automotive landscape, even for performance brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini. One of the biggest reasons for this trend is the dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which not only shifts faster than any driver on a manual could but is also more efficient.

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This video from YouTube user Thomas Schwenke provides a good overview of the inner workings of a DCT. As the video explains, the DCT works in similar fashion to a manual transmission except that there are two separate gear sets and the shifting is computer controlled.

The two gear sets are normally arranged between odd and even gearing. The two clutches, hence the name dual-clutch transmission, are arranged where the odd-numbered gears use an outer clutch pack, while the inner clutch pack works the even-numbered gears. This allows both clutches to engage the input shaft.

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Starting out in first, the outer clutch will be engaged, while the inner clutch will be disengaged with second gear selected via a dog gear. Shifting from first to second gear, the transmission will disengage the outer clutch and engage the inner clutch. The results are quicker shift times that cannot be accomplished with a conventional manual gearbox.

It’s little wonder that this transmission design is slowing becoming the exclusive option on many performance cars.

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