How to Drive a Dsg Gearbox Car

How to drive a DSG gearbox car. In this post, we show you how to drive a dsg gearbox car perfectly. This will help you learn the correct way to operate a dsg gearbox or automated manual transmission car to avoid juddering, delaying and driver mistakes. We also show you some of the features that can be found on dsg cars like sport and manual modes.

This post will show you how to drive a car equipped with a direct shift gearbox (DSG). The clutch transmission of Direct Shift Gearbox has revolutionized the automobile industry throughout the world. This animation explains the engineering principles of the dual clutch transmission, which was developed more than 10 years ago by the Volkswagen Group.

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How to Drive a Skoda Dsg Gearbox Car

A direct shift gearbox, also known as a dual-clutch gearbox, offers an alternative to a conventional automatic

by: Bob Harper16 Dec 20201

In the not-too-distant past if you were in the market for a new car you would have been faced with two choices when it came to the gearbox – manual, or automatic. These days though there’s another choice of transmission to be considered, the Direct Shift Gearbox, that’s more commonly described using its DSG acronym, and is also known as a dual-clutch gearbox. 

From the driver’s seat it’s very likely you wouldn’t necessarily know the difference between a DSG gearbox and an automatic – the controls are virtually identical and a DSG tends to change gears in the same smooth manner as a traditional auto.

DSG vs a conventional automatic

So what are the differences between an automatic and a DSG, and is it better to buy one over the other? A DSG gearbox is effectively two gearboxes in one, connected to the engine by two drive shafts. As well as two gearboxes there are also two clutches and both the gearboxes and clutches are operated hydraulically by a mechatronics system (effectively a combination of mechanics and electronics).

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In a traditional automatic the drive from the engine is taken to the gearbox via a torque converter whereas in a manual this is taken care of by the clutch. While a torque converter offers smooth gear changes it uses a thick hydraulic fluid which is less efficient than a clutch-based system.AdvertisementAdvertisement – Article continues below

The advantage of the DSG over a conventional automatic is that the gearbox that’s not currently in use is able to work out which gear you’re likely to want next and will prepare it for use. This allows for both smooth and fast gear changes. In order to do this, an electronic control unit for the transmission uses information such as engine speed, road speed, accelerator position and driving mode to select the optimum gear and to determine the ideal shift point. Each change can be accomplished in less than four-hundredths of a second, although some manufacturers’ systems are faster than others.

Cost of DSG gearboxes

While some cars can only be ordered with a DSG gearbox, this type of transmission is generally offered as a cost option. This cost obviously varies between different car companies but, as an example, Volkswagen charges around £1,400 extra for a DSG gearbox on a Volkswagen Golf hatchback.

In terms of performance and economy there’s not a huge amount to choose between and manual and DSG transmissions. DSGs do tend to be slightly heavier than their manual counterparts and this can lead to cars with them being slightly less fuel efficient. 

If we use the example of the Golf again, the 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI petrol model with a manual gearbox returns between 44.8 and 47.9mpg under the new WLTP testing guidelines while the same car with a DSG returns between 42.8 and 44.1mpg. Their CO2 emissions outputs are nigh-on identical at 119g/km and 118g/km respectively. Their 0-62mph times are identical, too.

Driving a DSG-equipped car

For many drivers our increasingly congested roads means that a car with a manual gearbox is becoming increasingly unappealing, especially if you have to contend with a lot of stop start traffic where the constant use of the clutch can become tiring and annoying. 


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In operation a car with a DSG is effectively the same as a traditional automatic, even if what’s going on with the mechanical items is very different. Like an automatic a DSG-equipped car has just two pedals, the accelerator and the brake, and like a traditional automatic a DSG car is likely to have Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive settings and you generally need to have your foot on the brake to move between these various drive modes.

When manoeuvring at low speed most DSG cars act in the same manner as an automatic in that they will creep forward or back when in Drive or Reverse when you remove your foot from the brake pedal. This makes it easier to accomplish tasks such as moving the car in and out of parking spaces. 

Most modern DSG-equipped cars also come with what is termed a manual mode which allows you to override the computer controlling the car’s gearchanges. You may want to select a lower gear for climbing or descending steep hills, or for when you want to overtake, and this is generally done by shifting the gear lever to the left and moving the lever forwards or backwards to select the gear you want. In some cars this can also be done via paddles mounted behind the steering wheel with plus and minus buttons for changing up and down respectively. Not all cars follow the exact same pattern with their controls though, so it pays to make yourself familiar with how the system works if you’re unfamiliar with the car.

What are the problems with DSG gearboxes?

No mechanical system is 100 per cent bulletproof, but as manufacturers increasingly use DSG transmissions it would appear that their failure rate is very low. On some older models owners have reported faults with DSGs such as noisy bearings or juddering from the transmission but these are generally few and far between.

As DSGs are fully automated they are actually far less open to abuse than a traditional manual. In a normal manual the gears could be ‘crunched’ by an unsympathetic driver or the clutch could wear out prematurely if not operated correctly. 

Which companies offer DSG gearboxes?

The Direct Shift Gearbox entered the mainstream in Volkswagen Group cars and are now widely used in VWs, Audis, SEATs, and Skodas. Other manufacturers also offer DSG-style transmissions but many of them use different names. BMW uses them in some models, generally its high performance cars, where they’re know as DCT, while Porsche uses the PDK acronym and in Fords they’re know as Powershift gearboxes.

What is a DSG gearbox? Should I buy one?

Also called twin-clutch or DCT gearboxes, a DSG automatic gearbox is offered on many cars now. But should you buy one over a manual?

by Ben Custard3 Nov 2021

If you’ve recently started car shopping for a car with an automatic gearbox, you may have heard or read mention of a ‘DSG’ (direct-shift gearbox), also known as a dual-clutch gearbox. A DSG is effectively a type of automatic transmission and is available as an option on some cars or as standard on others. But what is it, how does it differ from other gearboxes and should you buy a car with one?

A DSG is a gearbox with two clutches, which few other automatics have. They’re extremely popular on cars built under the Volkswagen Group, such as VolkswagenAudiSkoda and SEAT, and have more recently been offered by other brands, including FordHyundai and Kia, thanks to their ability, in some cases, to improve fuel economy.

While most cars come with one clutch, the second one works out which gear you’re likely to want next and gets it ready. In theory, this means that the gearbox is always prepared for your next move, so the gear shifts are noticeably quicker and smoother, although it’s unlikely you’ll notice much difference between a DSG and a conventional automatic gearbox from behind the wheel. This is one of the key reasons why they’re also favoured in performance cars from manufacturers such as MercedesBMW and Porsche.

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The clever sensors in a DSG gearbox constantly measure a range of variables, including how fast you’re going, how hard the engine is working and the position of the accelerator to work out the optimum gear and shift point. How you’re driving and the driving mode you’re in (if your car has different modes) will also help the gearbox work out when to change; it can do so in just a few hundredths of a second.

As with other types of automatic gearboxes, you will have to pay extra if you want a DSG over a standard manual gearbox, so it’s worth keeping that in mind if you’re on a tight budget. Dual-clutch gearboxes can be heavier too and, in some cases, be slightly less fuel-efficient than manual gearboxes – this, however, will depend on the car you buy. You may decide these are small sacrifices for the convenience of an automatic ‘box.

How to drive a DSG gearbox car

Many people choose automatic gearboxes because they make driving easier, particularly in traffic; you don’t have to worry about constantly using the clutch. Driving a car with a DSG gearbox isn’t really any different to driving most other automatics – you’ll need to put your foot on the brake to switch between neutral, park, reverse or drive. Releasing the brake in the reverse or drive will mean the car starts creeping backwards or forwards respectively – this is deliberate, as it makes low-speed manoeuvring easier. Park should be used when you are leaving the car as it locks the transmission, but you’ll still need to apply the handbrake.

How much does a DSG gearbox cost?

Some cars are offered exclusively with a DSG, such as the Porsche 911 GT3 – though the German brand calls it PDK instead – but in most cases, especially in mainstream hatchbacks, it’s quite an expensive option. The cost depends on the type of car you buy and the brand it’s made by but it will usually be more than £1,000. To spec the Volkswagen Golf with a DSG, for example, you’ll need nearly £1,500.Related Videos From Autovia

Are DSG gearboxes reliable?

In most cases, both a six-speed and seven-speed DSG gearbox will be as reliable as any other gearbox. Some owners have reported that older gearboxes have been prone to the occasional failure, but the newer boxes seem to have overcome these. Faults included noisy bearings, juddering and going into ‘limp home’ mode (where the engine’s computer limits power to a minimum).

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However, all mechanical parts can wear down over time if not properly maintained or replaced, and automatic gearboxes are more complicated than manuals. If you’re after an automatic gearbox, don’t let relatively uncommon faults put you off – a DSG is usually one of the smoother and more efficient types of gearbox, and most survive for at least 100,000 miles if not more.

What’s the difference between a DSG and other automatic gearboxes?

If you are comparing different types of automatic gearboxes, chances are you’re comparing different car companies too – most only stick with one type. The main difference is the DSG’s second clutch pack, which readies the next gear for fast, smooth and comparatively efficient shifting. Some traditional, ‘torque-converter’ automatic gearboxes are even smoother and quieter, but they are usually far less efficient.

You can also choose a CVT or, in some cases, an automated manual. CVTs (Constantly Variable Transmission) don’t have different gears as such, and tend to prioritise efficiency over everything else. On lower-powered cars, this can mean the engine is noisily revving unnecessarily. Automated manuals, on the other hand, can sometimes be slow to change gear, and jerky too.

Which cars are available with DSG gearboxes?

DSGs started in VW Group cars like the original Audi TT, and you’ll still find most dual-clutch gearboxes in VWSEATAudiSkoda and Porsche models. If none of those take your fancy, FordVolvoBMWNissan and MG all offer or have offered DSG gearboxes, which are often referred to by different names. Ford, for example, calls it a Powershift gearbox.

Unsure whether to choose a car with a manual or automatic gearbox? Read our guide Manual or automatic gearbox – which is best? to help you make a decision.

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