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How Does a Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) Work?

The Function of a Dual-Clutch Transmission

Market Technology before it’s ready!

A dual-clutch transmission (DCT) is synonymous with high performance. Compared to a traditional automatic transmission, it delivers…

  • Faster, smoother shifts
  • Increased fuel economy
  • Improved performance
  • Surprise breakdowns (well they’ll solve that soon)

Although the DCT transmission dates to the 1930s, it made its first practical appearance decades later in several 1980s-era race cars.

In 2003, the Volkswagen Golf Mk4 R32 was the first production vehicle to feature the technology.

Today you can find a DCT in a variety of cars, from the relatively tame Hyundai Sonata to the brash, sexy Nissan GT-R.

How a DCT transmission works

DCTs are essentially two manual transmissions working in tandem.

One gear shaft contains the even-numbered gears, and the other contains the odd-numbered gears. While you’re accelerating in first gear, for example, the computer selects second gear on the other gear shaft. When it’s time to up-shift, the clutch that controls the even gears disengages and the clutch that controls the odd gears engages.

Compared to a traditional automatic transmission, gears shift much more quickly and smoothly in a DCT transmission – the perfect complement to a powerful, high-performance engine.

While DCTs are capable of seamless shifts, they can suffer from shudder or lurching at slow speeds.

Transmission fluid with specific frictional properties is required to prevent shudder. DCT fluid must also maintain the proper viscosity to provide protection during the high-heat operation native to high-performance sports sedans and supercars.

100% Synthetic Dual-clutch Transmission Fluid (DTC)

Protect the thrill

AMSOIL 100% Synthetic DCT Fluid is specifically engineered for sophisticated dual-clutch transmissions.

Its superior frictional properties protect against shudder and gear clashing to consistently produce fast, smooth shifts. When you are waiting on the light you need a fluid engineered to solve the “constant slip mode” which is occurring to work as if it had a torque converter. Slight engagement while you are on the brakes requires beyond expectations technology you only can expect from AMSOIL.

AMSOIL Synthetic DCT Fluid’s exceptional durability provides stability in stop-and-go traffic and excels under intense, high-heat conditions. Its built-in oxidation resistance helps prevent sludge formation in vital transmission parts.

Available in our 98th St store. Just behind the Marlins at the Tea exit. Exit 73 Sioux Falls.

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What Motor Oil is Best for Winter? (And Other Cold-Weather Questions)

The Best Winter Motor and Transmission Oil Choice

Synthetic oil is best for winter.

We’re done here.

If only it were that simple. But most people want empirical data to support such claims.

Well, take a look at the video. We cooled a conventional 5W-30 motor oil and AMSOIL Signature Series 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil to -40º. As you can see, the conventional oil thickened so much that it barely flowed from the beaker. The AMSOIL product, on the other hand, flows almost immediately.

Buy AMSOIL Signature Series

Why the dramatic performance difference? In answering that question, I’ll also answer the question hoss61761 poses on social media:

Conventional oils contain waxes that solidify when the temperature drops. This severely impairs the oil’s ability to flow when you crank your engine. In some cases, the oil can thicken so much that it prevents the crankshaft from spinning fast enough to start the engine.

Prior to using AMSOIL, I had a Cutlass Ciera that was notorious for refusing to start on our cold Minnesota mornings. The dirt-cheap big-box-retailer oil I used back then thickened so much the engine would barely turn over.

Why synthetics flow better in winter weather

Synthetics, in contrast, don’t contain waxes due to the chemical-reaction process used to construct synthetic base oils. As a result, synthetics demonstrate far better cold-flow properties than conventional oil. Not only will your vehicle start more easily (I’ve yet to have one of my vehicles using AMSOIL fail to start, even with temps pushing -30ºF), the oil will flow more quickly, ensuring oil reaches vital components faster. This, in turn, maximizes wear protection, helping your engine last longer.

Check the oil’s pour point

If you want more data to prove synthetics’ cold-weather superiority, check the oil’s Product Data Sheet. Look for the oil’s pour point. Lower numbers indicate better cold-flow, thus better cold-weather performance.

In the example here, you can see that AMSOIL Signature Series 5W-30, the same oil shown in the video above, has a pour point of -58ºF (-50ºC).

What is cold?

Not to get existential here, but it’s a relevant question. Folks in the south whose idea of winter is putting shoes on for a couple weeks in January may think they’re off the hook. Do they need to waste mental energy on motor oil cold-flow properties?

Good cold-flow is important to Southerners, too. Here’s why.

Engineers agree that most engine wear occurs during cold starts. There are several reasons, but two concern us for this discussion:

  • Gravity causes much of the oil to fall back into the oil sump, leaving components unprotected
  • Cold oil doesn’t flow immediately at startup, temporarily starving the engine of oil

While true that oil thickens more in sub-zero winter weather and causes increased starting difficulty, an engine is considered “cold” after it’s sat long enough to cool to ambient temperature, typically overnight.

The oil inside your engine cools as it sits overnight. As it cools, its viscosity increases (it thickens). When it’s time to start your vehicle in the morning, the thicker oil doesn’t flow through the engine as readily as it does when it’s at operating temperature. It’s during this time that vital engine parts can operate without lubrication, increasing wear. So, even in warm climates, cold-start wear is a problem. Southerners are well-advised to use a good synthetic oil with excellent cold-flow properties, too.

Thick or thin oil in winter?

Motorists sometimes ask if they should use thicker or thinner oil in the winter. Fortunately for them, we wrote a whole post on that topic. Check it out here.

Should I Switch to a Lighter Viscosity Oil in Winter?

To summarize, use the lowest viscosity oil your vehicle manufacturer recommends in the winter. Most automakers recommend a lone viscosity year-round. But some allow you to switch to a lower viscosity in winter, which helps improve cold-flow.

If your owner’s manual says you can switch to a lower viscosity oil in winter, go for it.

Shift to better winter protection

While I have you here, I should talk about transmission fluid, too. Like motor oil, it thickens in cold weather. The cold, thick fluid doesn’t flow readily through the intricate network of passageways in the transmission valve body or through the small solenoid openings. What does that mean to you?

  • Delayed shifts
  • Elongated shifts
  • Hard/harsh shifts
  • Reduced wear protection

Cold, thick transmission fluid doesn’t flow readily through narrow valve-body passages, leading to poor shift quality.

Again, I’ll go to the well of personal experience. After buying a Honda CR-V several years ago, I switched to AMSOIL synthetic motor oil…but I neglected to change the transmission fluid. Fast-forward to winter and one of our trademark -20ºF mornings with a wind chill pushing past -40º. The Honda started, but she shifted slowly and with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The entire vehicle shuddered as it reluctantly found second gear heading down the road.

Switching to synthetic transmission fluid solved the problem. The fluid flows much more readily in the cold, which translates into smoother shifts. It also means the gears and bearing are receiving vital lubrication, too. Anyone who’s shelled out thousands of dollars for a tranny replacement knows how important that is.

Buy AMSOIL Signature Series ATF

Bottom Line: Synthetic motor oil and drivetrain lubricants perform better in the cold than conventional oils. They flow better for easier starts, smoother shifts and better protection against wear. Upgrade to synthetics to maximize cold-weather protection and performance.

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Automatic & Manual Transmission Fluid: What’s the Difference?

Automatic Transmission Fluid & Manual Transmission Fluid: What’s the Difference?

Back in 2006, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) offered buyers the choice between an automatic and a manual transmission in 47 percent of new cars. Fast forward to 2018, when only 2 percent of vehicles sold had a manual transmission, according to edmunds.com. 

Even with manual transmissions on the endangered species list, questions about automatic vs. manual transmission fluid still arise. Whether you opt for a stick or a slush box, you want to use the correct transmission fluid to maximize its performance and life.

Four responsibilities of a good automatic transmission fluid

The differences between automatic and manual transmission fluid lie in what each fluid must do. You don’t have to be an engineer to know that an automatic transmission is far more complex than a manual. Fittingly, so is the fluid it requires to function properly.

Automatic transmission fluid must perform several functions, including…

1. Act as a hydraulic fluid

Automatic transmissions use pressurized fluid to change gears. In essence, automatic transmission fluid is hydraulic fluid.

When your vehicle’s computer decides its time to shift gears, it sends an electric signal to the appropriate transmission solenoid. The solenoid directs fluid through a complex series of passages in the valve body to engage the correct gear. The fluid squeezes a series of plates together inside a clutch pack to connect the engine to the transmission output shaft and route power to the wheels.

In a properly functioning transmission, this all happens instantly and goes largely unnoticed.

However, fluid that’s too thick (it’s viscosity is too high) can fail to flow quickly for crisp, confident shifts. That’s one reason automatic transmission fluid has a lower viscosity than manual transmission fluid.

Fluid that has accumulated foam can also fail in its role as a hydraulic fluid. The foam bubbles collapse under pressure, causing elongated or inconsistent shifts (not to mention gear wear). For that reason, automatic transmission fluid must contain foam inhibitors.

2. Deliver the correct frictional requirements

As noted, pressurized automatic transmission fluid squeezes the clutch packs together to engage the correct gears. These clutch packs are comprised of bare metal plates and plates coated in friction material. Engagement and disengagement must occur seamlessly to provide the driver with the best driving experience.

The fluid’s frictional properties determine whether this complicated choreography of moving metal and fluid creates crisp shifts or has you scheduling a time to change transmission fluid.

As such, automatic transmission fluid is formulated to provide precise frictional properties not required of manual transmission fluid.

Shop AMSOIL Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid

3. Protect gears from wear

Automatic transmissions contain an array of sun, planet and ring gears that require lubrication to protect against wear. The fluid must form a durable fluid film on metal surfaces to prevent metal-to-metal contact and wear.

4. Fight heat

Heat is automatic transmission fluid’s number-one enemy. It chemically breaks down the fluid (known as oxidation). Fluid that has broken down leads to sludge and varnish, which can clog narrow oil passages and contribute to clutch glazing. Soon, your vehicle can begin to shift hard, jerk or hesitate.

Automatic transmissions typically run hotter than manuals, meaning the fluid must provide enhanced protection against heat. That’s one reason some vehicles have automatic transmission fluid coolers.

Shop AMSOIL Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid

Three responsibilities of a good manual transmission fluid

Just because they’re less complex doesn’t mean manual transmission lubrication requirements are simple. A good manual transmission fluid must serve several roles, including…

1. Enable smooth shifts

Nothing connects vehicle and driver like a smooth-shifting manual gearbox. Enthusiasts won’t tolerate a transmission fluid that interferes with that link.

Here, we have some cross-over between automatic and manual transmission fluid. But they go about enabling smooth shifts differently based on different component architecture.

Most manual transmissions are equipped with synchronizers. As the name suggests, the synchro equalizes its speed with that of the gear being engaged, allowing a smooth shift. Without it, the gears spinning at different speeds would clash as they try to mate.

The synchronizer unit is comprised of two main components: the sleeve and the blocker or synchronizer ring. When the driver selects, for example, first gear, the sleeve moves to the first gear and locks onto the gear engagement teeth, also known as dogs. Depressing the clutch pedal and selecting second gear results in the sleeve moving the other way and selecting second gear in the same fashion.

Before the sleeve can lock onto the gear, the rotational speed of each must first be synchronized. The friction between the blocker ring and a cone on the face of the gear equalizes their speed, allowing gears to mate without clashing. The entire process happens quickly and goes unnoticed in correctly operating transmissions.

Lubricant viscosity plays a vital role in shift feel.

Viscosity that is too high could prevent shifting until the transmission warms up or result in abnormally high temperatures during operation. Viscosity that is too low could cause the synchronizer and dog gear to engage too quickly, resulting in grinding or hard shifts and abnormal transmission wear.

2. Fight wear

Again, manual transmission fluid must protect against wear, just like an automatic transmission fluid. Manual transmission fluid, as noted earlier, tends to be a higher viscosity than automatic transmission fluid. This helps the fluid develop a thick, durable protective film.

Shop AMSOIL Synthetic Manual Transmission Fluid

3. Protect brass synchronizers

Synchros are usually made of brass, which is softer than other metals. Certain lubricant additives aren’t compatible with brass and can damage the synchros.

The properly formulated manual transmission fluid for your vehicle will protect synchros to ensure they last as designed and promote smooth shifts.

As you may have figured out, automatic transmission fluid can, in some cases, work fine in manual transmissions. Which raises another question…

Will automatic transmission fluid work in a manual transmission?

Yes – provided the original equipment manufacturer recommends it. It’s important to check your owner’s manual to make sure before dumping ATF in your manual transmission.

In fact, some manuals may call for a gear lube or even a motor oil in older units.

I should also point out that continuously variable transmissions (CVT), popping up on more vehicles today due their increased efficiency, take their own fluid. And so do dual-clutch transmissions (DCT), which you’ll find on many sports cars.

Whichever you prefer, AMSOIL formulates a transmission fluid to help maximize transmission performance and life.

Shop AMSOIL Synthetic Transmission Fluid

More AMSOIL Products Available in the Award-Winning Easy-Pack

The New EZ Pack is making waves! No more oil change Hassle

Sometimes an idea so great comes along it makes some wonder, “Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?”

Case in point: AMSOIL easy-packs. Their innovative, flexible design has revolutionized the challenging task of changing fluids, reducing mess, waste and hassle.

Less Mess. Less Waste. Less Hassle.

After extensive research and testing to produce a concept worthy of the AMSOIL name, the AMSOIL SEVERE GEAR® Synthetic Gear Lube easy-pack launched in August 2018 to resounding success. It has earned rave reviews, a SEMA Global Media Award, a Flexible Packaging Achievement Award and the expectation that other companies will soon attempt to follow the AMSOIL lead once again.

Here’s what one customer says about the SEVERE GEAR easy-pack.

“175,000 trouble-free, heavy-haul miles. The new gear oil pouch makes it so easy to change diff fluid. Make the switch to AMSOIL today. Proven protection in the worst conditions.”

Nate the Hotshot
Laurel, Miss.

Since the launch of the AMSOIL SEVERE GEAR Synthetic Gear Lube easy pack, AMSOIL has expanded its easy pack offerings to include even more products. Check those out below and prepare for a new way of changing fluids with less stress and mess than what you’re used to enduring.

SEVERE GEAR Synthetic Gear Lube

Available in 75W-90, 80W-90, 75W-110 and 75W-140 viscosities, SEVERE GEAR is engineered for high-demand applications found in today’s autos/pick-up trucks, SUVs, heavy equipment and other hard-working vehicles. It delivers extreme-temperature performance no matter where the roads you travel happen to be.

Synthetic ATV/UTV Transmission and Differential Fluid

AMSOIL Synthetic ATV/UTV Transmission and Differential Fluid delivers severe-service protection against wear while riding aggressively or tackling tough terrain around your property. It protects heavily loaded, high-torque gears to promote long equipment life, even in extreme operating temperatures.

Bonus: AMSOIL synthetic lubricants are Warranty Secure, keeping your factory warranty intact. Click here to learn more about your freedom to choose the lubricants you think best – and to score your free AMSOIL Runs on Freedom decal.

Synthetic Marine Gear Lube

AMSOIL Synthetic Marine Gear Lube is an exclusive AMSOIL formulation of synthetic base oils and high-performance additives that address specific concerns of marine applications. It is fortified with extreme-pressure (EP) additives for superior protection of fast-accelerating, high-torque/horsepower engines. It delivers advanced outboard protection against power loss and gear wear, even with up to 15 percent water contamination.*

*Based upon AMSOIL testing of AMSOIL Synthetic Marine Gear Lube 75W-90 in ASTM 3233 and ASTM D892.

Signature Series Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid

Available in both Fuel-Efficient and Multi-Vehicle formulations, AMSOIL Signature Series ATF provides excellent wear protection and performance in today’s demanding transmission applications. Benefits include protection against thermal breakdown, cold-temperature fluidity, friction durability and maximum fuel economy.

Manual Transmission & Transaxle Gear Lube

AMSOIL Manual Transmission & Transaxle Gear Lube is formulated to meet the demands of towing, heavy hauling and performance driving typically found in manual transmissions. It delivers quick shifts and excellent wear protection in hot rods and muscle cars to promote smooth, fast engagement of synchronizers and gears. Its shear-stable formulation maintains viscosity and protects brass synchronizers while supporting equipment longevity.

Shop AMSOIL Easy Packs

Remember This When Trying to Find Which Transmission Fluid You Need

Remember This When Trying to Find Which Transmission Fluid You Need

Take a look at just a few of the dozens of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) specifications on the market:

  • ATF+4
  • Mercon V
  • Mercon LV
  • Dexron VI
  • ATF DW-1
  • ATF T-IV
  • SP-IV
  • Toyota ATF-WS
  • Honda DW (ZF
  • Diamond SP-IV

You’ve likely heard the term analysis paralysis.

That’s what many people feel when they scan the shelves at Advance Auto in search of transmission fluid. They just want a quart or two of ATF to top-off their vehicle, but instead they must decipher a series of hieroglyphics or face the specter of ruining their tranny by choosing the wrong fluid.

There’s a sure-fire way to avoid this hassle.

But first, check out this survey by the Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA), which confirmed what many already know about buying ATF – the specifications listed on ATF labels can be confusing and misleading.

One reason is the sheer number of ATF specifications on the market. Interpreting the made-up words (“Mercon” and “Dexron” sound like diabetes medication or the latest U.S. Defense Department initiative, after all) leaves you shaking your head and vowing to service your transmission next spring.

It wasn’t always like this. At one time, Ford Mercon- and GM Dexron-type ATFs dominated the market and reduced your choices to a manageable few. Today, demand for those fluids has slipped below 50 percent and is declining as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue to introduce their own, proprietary specs.

What is an ATF spec?

Simply put, it’s a set of performance standards. It’s not an actual fluid, meaning you don’t go to NAPA in search of Mercon or Dexron transmission fluid. You go in search of a fluid that meets the Mercon or Dexron specification. In an attempt to make it easy for you, many ATF manufacturers print those specs in giant letters on the label. Judging by the survey, though, it’s not working. This means the fluid was subjected to – and passed – a series of performance tests stipulated by the authors of the Mercon or Dexron specifications.

Today, it’s normal for most OEMs to author their own performance specifications rather than recommend using a fluid that meets a different OEM’s specifications, for example Mercon or Dexron. You can blame it on technological advancements that have made vehicles tougher on transmission fluid than cars of yesteryear. An automaker that introduces its latest 500-hp land rocket wants to be sure you’re using a transmission fluid capable of standing up to the intense heat and stress churning through all those gears.

It may also have something to do with money. Brand XYZ would rather you buy Brand XYZ transmission fluid than another company’s fluid, which helps explain why some OEM-branded fluids are so expensive.

That brings us back to analysis paralysis.

How can we cut through the confusion and make transmission fluid selection easy? And how do we do it while meeting the performance demands of most modern automatic transmissions?

One transmission fluid to rule them all

That’s a bit of hyperbole in honor of my favorite trilogy about hobbits and orcs, but it’s not far off.

We formulated AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid and OE Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid to take the guesswork out of ATF selection. Both fluids are recommended for most of the common ATF specs on the market.

Mercon V? Check.

Dexron III? Check.

ATF+4? We cover that, too.

We take convenience a step further with our online Product Guide, which tells you which fluid your vehicle needs.

LOOK UP TRANSMISSION FLUID FO MY VEHICLE

If you tow, haul or engage in other types of severe service, use Signature Series Synthetic ATF. If you stick to the highway and mostly run to work and home, OE Synthetic ATF is your best bet.

So, when it comes to finding the right transmission fluid, forget about the hieroglyphics and just remember these six letters: AMSOIL.