Things You Should Never Do With The DSG Automatic Gearbox
DSG, Direct-Shift Gearboxes or Dual-Clutch Gearboxes have their roots in racing and, surprisingly, also farming (they were used in tractors). By using two clutches, the gear shifts in modern DSG automatic gearboxes are quick and precise, really precise. By executing shifts with the help of two clutches, you don’t lose any traction between gear changes. This is exactly why they became popular in the racing world. They quickly made their transition into general automotive production and can be found in many modern cars since the beginning of the 2000s. Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen are among the biggest proponents of the dual-clutch gearbox technology and they have proven just how good a DSG automatic gearbox can be.
While they do have their issues and differences compared to standard automatic transmissions, we recommend that you learn how to properly handle a DSG automatic gearbox. This will prevent any unwanted issues and can even save you money in the long run.
Dual-Clutch (DSG) Gearbox Overview: Construction and Function
Porsche names their dual-clutch gearbox the “PDK”, Volkswagen calls them the “DSG”, but despite the different names, they all work in a similar manner.
DSG gearbox construction
All dual-clutch gearboxes are based on two sub-gearboxes. One of them is responsible for shifting into uneven gears (1,3,5,7) and the other gearbox handles the even gears (2,4,6). By utilizing two sub-gearboxes and two clutches, the gearbox and its transmission control unit are always ready to predict your next move. Both sub-gearboxes work on the same output shaft.
How a DSG automatic gearbox functions
Let’s imagine you are driving around in 3rd gear. The sub-gearbox that is responsible for the uneven gears is in contact with the output shaft which allows you to drive in 3rd gear. At the same time, the other sub-gearbox that handles even gears already has the 4th gear ready and engaged. While it is engaged, it isn’t in contact with the output shaft. As you accelerate the mechatronics (the transmission control unit) will analyse your behaviour and open the clutch on the “uneven sub-gearbox”. At the same time, it will close the clutch and fully engage the 4th gear of the “even sub-gearbox”. This shift to a higher gear happens in a fraction of a second.
This quick overview will help you understand why some of the bad habits drivers indulge in are so harmful to your DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Doing These 6 Things Will Ruin Your DSG
Not using the brake on a hill or an incline
When driving a car with a direct-shift gearbox, using your accelerator pedal to keep a steady position on an incline is a very bad idea. This will engage the clutch and it will perpetually engage and slip. This takes a big toll on the gearbox.
To prevent this bad habit, most modern cars come equipped with the “hill hold” function. Some other cars will simply not engage the clutch in order to prevent damage to the gearbox. You will simply start rolling down the hill unless you press the brake pedal.
“Launching” the car incorrectly
Most sports cars come with a launch control function for a reason. Using launch control lets the car know what you are about to do. The car prepares all the components to prevent unnecessary damage.
However, not all cars with dual-clutch gearboxes come with launch control. Many drivers then “launch” the car on their own terms by slamming the brakes and the gas pedal at the same time. When they drop the brake pedal, their gearbox is literally suffering. Doing this repeatedly will land you right at the hands of a gearbox specialist for some unpleasant repairs.
Switching to “(N)eutral” when stopping
Just like with a standard, hydraulic automatic transmission it is recommended that you don’t switch to neutral when stopping with a DSG. While some people argue that switching to neutral disengages the clutches just like pressing the brake does, it still makes no sense to constantly move the gear lever and send mixed signals to the gearbox control unit.
Up-shifting during braking
The gearbox control unit is always analysing your behaviour by gathering information from several sensors. After analyzing the data like speed, throttle position and brake position it will signal to the gearbox its next move. Most cars with a DSG offer manual shifting through the use of paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Using shift paddles to up-shift while braking can send mixed signals to the gearbox and cause damage to the gearbox due to the engine and gearbox running at different speeds.
Saving fuel by switching to “(N)eutral” when going downhill
Someone explain to us why this is still a thing in 2021? But it definitely is and it causes more harm than good. The fuel savings are minuscule but you let go of basically all control. Not only will you not be able to use the engine brake to slow down, but you will also put a lot more stress on your brakes. If the descent suddenly stops you have to quickly shift into “Drive” to regain control of the throttle. Slamming into gear during movement is a sure way to harm your DSG automatic gearbox.
Not following the maintenance plan
Just like with every other automatic transmission, your DSG automatic gearbox needs regular oil and filter changes. Failing to follow a regular maintenance plan is perhaps the worst thing you can do to your DSG automatic gearbox. Maintaining it regularly is a lot cheaper than fixing it when it breaks down. Trust us.
The information we provided in this article should be conveyed to all new car owners with a DSG automatic gearbox but speaking from experience, it rarely is. If you are reading this, we have no doubt that your DSG will last you a long time. Dual-clutch gearboxes were known as less reliable or durable than a standard automatic, but those times are over in our opinion. Regular maintenance and correct use is the key to a worry-free DSG automatic experience.