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DSG transmission: what is better than conventional automatic transmissions and what problems will the car owner face?

DSG transmission: what is better than conventional automatic transmissions and what problems will the car owner face?
DSG is a preselective dual-clutch robotic transmission that can hold gears ready for further shifting. A good alternative to classic hydromechanical automatic transmissions and CVTs.

The main difference between “robots” and classic automatic transmissions is the presence of two clutches. Without going into technical details, thanks to their well-coordinated work, the car accelerates smoothly, without power failures. The first DSG 6 began to be used on Volkswagen cars in 2003, and five years later the concern introduced a seven-speed transmission.

On which cars is it installed?

Most often, DSG gearboxes are installed on European-made cars: Skoda, Volkswagen, SEAT. Audi, which is part of the VAG group, also uses “robots”, only the modernized transmissions are called “S-Tronic”. At one time, engineers were faced with the problem of installing a DSG on cars with a longitudinal engine layout - it was physically impossible to install such a gearbox.

The problem was solved by releasing modifications of the S-Tronic DL series. For example, the DL382F models were intended for front-wheel drive cars, the DL382Q were for Quattro all-wheel drive cars, and the DL501 was a reinforced box designed for 550 Nm.

DSG-трансмиссия: чем лучше обычных АКПП и с какими проблемами предстоит столкнуться автовладельцу?DSG gearbox. Photo: YouTube.com

Porsche also did not stand aside. In 2012, the first “robot” was introduced - PDK, created jointly with ZF. These gearboxes were initially installed on the 911 Carrera. Today, PDK is available as an option on many Porsche models.

In 2008, the presentation of PowerShift 6DCT450, a robotic gearbox from Ford, took place. These boxes were used for some time on Volvo cars until the company was sold to China. And even though PowerShift has a different name from DSG, the weak points are the same elements - the clutch and the TCM module.

Renault did not stand aside either. Preselective transmissions today are installed on almost all popular French-made models: Scenic, Duster, Megane, Clio. The installation of “robots” on KIA and Hyundai was also a matter of time. The Luk manual transmission was first used on the KIA Ceed in 2012. This transmission at one time became the “base” for the development of a Korean-made 7-speed DCT in 2015.

Symptoms of faults and common problems

Most often, problems with the box are indicated by extraneous noises that appear constantly or periodically. When components wear out, a creaking or metallic grinding or tapping noise is usually heard. Extraneous sounds are the first sign, followed by others.

Main “symptoms”:

✅ Vibration. It can be pulsating or constant. It is usually felt strongly at idle or during acceleration. The vibration can be felt by placing your hand on the body, but sometimes it is so strong that it is felt in the cabin
✅ Confusion at the beginning of the movement. They often appear when accelerating on a hill, but can be felt when shifting the gearbox from “R” to “D” mode or when downshifting. After some time after the start of movement, the shocks disappear
✅ Slipping. Accompanied by a decrease in acceleration dynamics. While driving, there is a lack of traction, and there is not enough power to quickly complete the maneuver
✅ Crashes or failure of the box. If the problem is serious, the car simply will not move. The transmission goes into emergency mode, and error data remains in the logbook. In some cases, after restarting the engine, the box works normally again, but this is temporary

Friction clutch wear can be called one of the weak points of the DSG. There are problems with gear shifting. Parametric diagnostics will help determine the problem. Also, over time, the solenoids that are used to open and close the oil passages in the hydraulic circuit fail.

Oil in manual transmission after 50 thousand km. Photo: YouTube.com

Typical DSG problems include mechatronics failures. Interference in the operation of the module is usually associated with overheating or software malfunctions. If the device does not function correctly, the transmission may go into limp mode for no reason, making it impossible to drive. Restarting the engine may temporarily solve the problem, but when the first signs appear, you should contact a service station.

The bearings and differential of a manual transmission usually have a long service life. But when it comes to an end, a mechanical overhaul will be required to restore the unit’s functionality. The dual-mass flywheel, which is necessary to dampen vibrations transmitted to the torque box, also wears out over time. When this happens, extraneous sounds and vibrations appear, and slipping occurs.

Clutch in DSG box. Photo: YouTube.com

The service life of the DSG depends on operating conditions. On average, DSG7 on new cars runs from 80 to 180 thousand km. On DSG6, the first problems with proper maintenance may occur no earlier than 150 thousand km.

Repair cost

Everything here is individual, depending on the nature of the breakdown, the vehicle and the region. For example, in Moscow, you need to pay about 15 thousand rubles for dismantling, troubleshooting, assembling and disassembling a gearbox with further installation. Replacing a clutch on a DSG6 costs on average 33 thousand rubles, on a DSG7 - about 24 thousand rubles.

Service Features

The timing of oil changes is always in the technical manual. If the manufacturer specifies that lubricant is poured for the entire service life of the vehicle, it should be changed every 100-120 thousand kilometers. You may not feel a difference in control after this, but in any case there will be wear products in the oil, which you will remove when replacing.

How to minimize the risk of breakdowns:

✅ Do not change gears until the car comes to a complete stop. It’s even better to wait a short pause. The manual transmission quickly changes speed when driving, but it is better to give it an extra second to transition from one mode to another
✅ Avoid skidding with slipping of the drive wheels, even on ice
✅ Do not start abruptly from a place, squeezing the gas all the way. The movement should always start smoothly so that the electronics selects the optimally gentle gear shift modes with minimal load on the clutch
✅ Avoid off-roading if the gearbox does not provide downshifts
✅ Do not use N mode for coasting, this can cause a strong “hit” on the clutch
✅ If using a trailer, always drive smoothly, without sudden acceleration or braking

For dynamic driving, use manual gear shift or sport modes. Manual transmissions with two dry clutches are more susceptible to the nature of the movement. During sharp starts, the structural elements of these boxes do not wear out so much, but they are not suitable for sporty or aggressive driving.

DSG clutch discs. Photo: YouTube.com

After starting the engine, it is advisable to travel the first few kilometers in a gentle mode. Manual transmission does not need strong heating in winter, but it is still better if the oil becomes less thick. To extend the life of your “robot,” we recommend developing a driving style in which you don’t need to slam on the brakes after accelerating.

DSG is a completely reliable transmission, the service life of which largely depends on the conditions of use. The main thing is to follow simple rules: avoid critically high loads, and in traffic jams use S-mode more often, so that the mechatronics is less likely to squeeze the clutch and change gears. If you are buying a used car, choose options with the most reliable DSGs - DQ250, DQ500 or DQ381.


Photos used: youtube.com

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