Why are Direct Shift Gearboxes called DSG and how do they function?

by | Jul 23, 2022 | Tips

If you were looking to purchase a new automobile not too long ago, you would have had to decide between an automatic or manual transmission. However, there is now another transmission option to take into account: the Direct Shift Gearbox, usually referred to as a dual-clutch gearbox and more popularly known by its abbreviation DSG.

Driving a DSG or an automatic car, it’s unlikely you’d notice the difference between the two. The controls are almost similar, and a DSG shifts much as an automatic does.

What is a DSG Gearbox?

A Direct Shift Gearbox, or DSG for short, is a type of automatic transmissions that uses two clutches to provide power to the vehicle. The first clutch is responsible for odd numbered gears, while the second clutch is responsible for even numbered gears. This design provides power delivery that is smoother than a traditional automatic transmission, and it also enables the driver to manually shift gears without using a clutch pedal.

DSG transmissions can be found in a variety of vehicles, from high-performance cars to family sedans. However, they are most commonly found in vehicles that are equipped with turbocharged engines. The reason for this is that the quick shifting action of a DSG transmission can help to prevent turbo lag.

DSG vs a regular automatic gearbox

So what distinguishes an automatic from a DSG, and which is preferable to purchase? Two drive shafts link a DSG gearbox, which functions as two transmissions in one, to the engine. There are two clutches in addition to the two gears, and a mechatronics system operates both of them hydraulically.

In a conventional automatic, the torque converter transfers the engine’s drive to the gearbox, while the clutch does this in a manual. Even while torque converters provide smooth gear shifts, they are less effective than clutch-based systems since they consume thick hydraulic fluid.

The DSG has one benefit over a traditional automatic transmission: it can predict the gear you’re likely to desire next and will have it ready for usage. This enables quick and seamless gear changes. An electronic transmission control unit makes this decision by selecting the best gear and figuring out the best shift point using data from the engine speed, highway speed, accelerator position, and driving mode. Although some manufacturers’ methods are quicker than others, each change may be made in less than four hundredths of a second.

Cost of DSG gearboxes

DSG gearboxes are often available as a more expensive option, while certain vehicles can only be bought with one. This cost certainly varies from one automaker to the next, but to give you an idea, Volkswagen adds around 1,400 pounds to the price of a Golf hatchback with a DSG transmission.

There aren’t many differences in performance and efficiency between manual and DSG gearboxes. Vehicles equipped with DSG transmissions may have a little reduced fuel efficiency compared to those equipped with manual transmissions.

A manual-gearboxed version of the 1.5-liter TSI petrol variant of the Golf delivers 44.8 to 47.9 miles per gallon, while the DSG version gets between 42.8 and 44.1 miles per gallon. With outputs of 119g/km and 118g/km, respectively, they almost have similar CO2 emissions. Additionally, their 0-62 mph timings are the same.

Driving a vehicle with a DSG

A vehicle with a manual transmission is becoming less and less tempting for many drivers as a result of our crowded roads, particularly if you have to deal with a lot of stop-and-go traffic where the continual usage of the clutch may become tiresome and frustrating.

Even though the mechanics of a vehicle with a DSG are quite different from those of a regular automatic, the way the automobile operates is essentially the same. Similar to an automatic, a DSG-equipped vehicle only has two pedals: the brake and the accelerator. Like a conventional automatic, a DSG automobile is likely to have settings for Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Driving, and you typically need to use the brake to switch between these different drive modes.

It is not uncommon for DSG automobiles to behave in the same way as automatics while driving at moderate speeds. Moves like sliding a vehicle into and out of a parking spot have never been so simple!

Most modern cars with DSG also have what is called a “manual mode” that lets you take control of the gear changes instead of letting the computer do it. When overtaking or ascending steep slopes, you may wish to change into a lower gear, which is often done by changing the gear lever to the left and sliding the lever forward or backward to choose the desired gear. The plus and minus buttons on certain automobiles’ paddles, which are positioned behind the steering wheel, may also be used to change up and down. Though not every car’s controls operate in exactly the same way, it still helps to get acquainted with them if you’re not familiar with the vehicle.

What issues do DSG gearboxes have?

Although no mechanical system is completely impervious, it would seem that DSG transmissions have a fairly low failure rate given how often they are used by manufacturers. Owners of certain older vehicles have experienced DSG problems, such as loud bearings or juddering transmissions, although these are typically quite rare.

DSGs are completely automated, making them less vulnerable to manipulation than a regular manual. In a typical manual transmission, the clutch might malfunction and cause the engine to prematurely wear down or the gears to be “crunched” by an uncaring driver.

What Vehicles Have DSG gearboxes?

With the introduction of Volkswagen Group vehicles, the Direct Shift Gearbox became extensively employed in VWs, SEATs, Audis and Skodas. DSG-like transmissions are also offered by other manufacturers, however many of them go by various names. They are known as DCT in select BMW models, which are often high-performance vehicles, whereas Porsche uses the abbreviation PDK and Ford refers to them as Powershift gears.

Find Used Audi Gearboxes For Sale

UK Audi car breakers yards stock a wide range of used Audi gearboxes for sale for many different models. The process of finding an Audi scrap yard that has the gearbox you need in stock can be time-consuming, but it is worth it to save money on replacement parts. To find out what gearboxes are available, simply enter your requirements on the Audi Breaker Yards website.

You will then be able to see a list of gearboxes that match your criteria, along with prices and contact details for the scrap yards. You can also search for used gearboxes by vehicle model, so if you know what kind of Audi you have, you can narrow down your search to find the right gearbox more quickly. With over 100 Audi breakers yards in the UK, you’re sure to find the second hand gearbox you need.


Potential issues, causes, and solutions have been identified in the above article based on the experiences of car owners and repairers, as well as web materials such as forum blogs and technical support bulletins. This data is supplied exclusively for the purpose of reference. Only appropriately qualified persons should perform repairs and/or changes on your vehicles.

While it’s important to keep in mind, it’s also important to note that the amount of times anything is mentioned here should not be seen as a sign of its reliability or frequency. Various owners, driving in different ways, and caring for their vehicles in distinct ways will cause two identical vehicles to perform differently.

As previously said, this material is supplied primarily for reference reasons; nonetheless, we hope that by doing so, we will be able to supply you with essential knowledge that will allow you to make informed decisions whenever you encounter any of the aforementioned setbacks.