The Garage Cars 101

What Is Double Clutching and Should I Actually Care?

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In a car with a manual transmission, the driver uses a clutch pedal every time they shift into or out of gear. Let off the gas, press the clutch, effortlessly move the stick shift from one gear to another, and release the clutch while giving it more gas. That’s all made possible by small parts within the gearbox known as synchronizers, among several other pieces of the mechanical puzzle. 

Synchronizers, or synchromesh gears, are what make shifts smooth and quick. They also eliminate the need to double clutch, or the act of using the clutch twice during each shift. 

If you drive a modern vehicle, there’s virtually no reason you will ever need to double clutch, but don’t lie: You’ve never fully understood the reference from that one Vin Diesel movie, and it’s always been a bugger in the back of your head. The day has come to finally learn all about double clutching. Get in, pizza boy. 

What Is Double Clutching?

In simple terms, double clutching is the act of using the clutch pedal twice during a single shift between gears. Starting in motion in fifth gear, it goes like this: 

Clutch in, shifter out of fifth into neutral, clutch out, quick hit of gas pedal, clutch in, shifter out of neutral into fourth. If you are upshifting, the throttle blip is not necessary.

In a car without synchronizers inside of its transmission, double clutching is used to essentially mesh the gears, the input shafts, and the output shafts together for smooth transmissions of power.

The black interior of the Honda S2000 CR Prototype features a manual transmission.
A Honda S2000 is an iconic manual sports car., Honda

Is a Double Clutch the Same as a Dual Clutch? 

I think you have your wire crossed up a bit. Double clutching is a verb, as in to double clutch. There is no such thing as a double clutch. A dual-clutch transmission is a type of automatic transmission that uses two clutch packs. One pack handles the odd gears, while the other handles the even gears.

What Is a Clutch Pack? 

A clutch pack is a mechanically and/or hydraulically actuated assembly of friction plates, metal, springs, and pistons within an automatic transmission housing that enables a car to shift through the gears.

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A metal ball shifter sits atop a black shift boot with yellow contrast stitching.
The Honda S2000 is known for its high-revving engine., Honda

FAQs About Double Clutching

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q: Is Shifting Without Double Clutching Granny Shifting?

A: Trust us, you are not granny shifting if you don’t double clutch in your 2022 Subaru BRZ.

Q: Do Any Modern Vehicles Use Double Clutching?

A: Select diesel semi-trucks and some racecars continue to use double clutching methods.

Q: Is Rev-Matching the Same as Double Clutching? 

A: The purpose of rev-matching is to match the engine speed to the transmission speed. The purpose of double clutching is to match the engine’s input shaft to the gear and transmission output shaft you are shifting into. If the speeds aren’t matching, it will not be able to shift into gear.

Q: Is Double Clutching Good or Bad?

A: If you drive a modern manual car, you do not need to double clutch. It is no longer inherently good nor bad, though some people would say it makes shifting more deliberate, which extends life.

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Tony Markovich


Tony Markovich is a former Senior Editor at The Drive, departing in 2022.