What is a DCT or Dual-Clutch Transmission?
If you've done any research on current cars, you've probably seen references to dual-clutch transmissions (DCTs). And you might well have asked yourself, "What is a DCT? What is a dual-clutch transmission?" If you are young enough, you might also ask yourself, "What is a clutch?" To explain all that, let's go back in time for a minute.
There was an era when learning to drive meant learning to master the intricacies of changing gears manually while manipulating the clutch pedal, the accelerator, and the gear selector lever all at once. Though the accelerator (gas pedal) and gear selector (shifter) are familiar to virtually all current drivers, the clutch pedal might not be.
In a car with a manual transmission, the clutch disengages the engine from the transmission for a few moments so the driver can switch from one gear to another. The driver pushes the clutch pedal in to operate the clutch. When pulling away from a stop in a manual transmission-equipped car, your feet do a little dance as you engage first gear or reverse, let out the clutch pedal, and add the proper amount of acceleration with the accelerator. The procedure takes a degree of skill that some find challenging to master.
Thus, to make cars easier to drive, inventors and tinkerers have sought ways to automate the process so the machine accomplishes what the driver used to perform.
Today, several different types of automatic transmissions do the gear-changing for us. Conventional automatics use torque converters to facilitate the gear changes. Continuously variable transmissions (CVT) use belts or chains and pulleys to manipulate the gear ratios. This article's subject – the dual-clutch transmission (DCT) – internally works similar to a manual transmission but doesn't require the driver to operate a clutch pedal.