Anyone who has driven a stick shift car, or even remotely followed racing has likely heard of the term “double clutch”, or perhaps even seen it done. While many may not be aware of what it actually means, double clutching is an advanced clutch technique that can be used for a variety of purposes. While double clutching can be somewhat hard to master completely, learning the basic is surprisingly easy and rewarding. However, before we begin learning how to actually execute the maneuver, it helps greatly to understand what it is and why one would use it.
The idea behind double clutching is actually a fairly simple thing. Basically, when you shift your car, the RPMs (revolutions per minute) drop when you go through neutral and then must catch up again when you put the car in gear and release the clutch pedal. Although this is not a major issue unless one is doing incredibly high performance driving and shifting at very high RPMs frequently, it is very likely that you will not really notice the difference between gears. However, there is a difference, and there is a way to eliminate that difference and allow the car to move between gears must faster and smoother than it is normally capable of doing. This method is known as “double clutching”, and it is something that has been around for a long time.
Double clutching began in the days before the invention of the synchromesh manual transmission. When most cars were equipped with an unsynchronized manual transmission, double clutching was necessary in order for proper driving. Without the use of double clutching, a driver could easily damage the gearbox. However, with modern transmission, everything is synced up automatically, and the need for double clutching has been basically eliminated, at least in normal driving.
Still though, there is reason enough for modern drivers to learn the technique the well, as it can make many methods of driving must easier, and can definitely make downshifting much more efficient and much easier. Thankfully, although pulling off a proper double clutch may seem difficult, with a little practice, it is something that can be pulled off on command with relative ease.
First, let us describe how a double clutch is done: When the driver is changing gears, no matter which direction, the driver wants to engage the clutch, move the shifter into neutral, disengage the clutch, hit the throttle to bring the RPMs up to match the next gear, and then engage the clutch and shift into the next gear.
Sounds complicated? It’s really not, and with a little practice anyone can do it. The easiest way to properly learn the technique is to start doing it very slowly. While driving, slowly shift the car out of it’s current gear, move the shifter into neutral. Then, while in neutral, simply hit the gas pedal, you can worry about exactly synchronizing later, for now, just get the idea down; after the gas pedal, just press the clutch back in and move it into gear.
Once you get the basic idea of the double clutch down, try gradually increasing the speed. After a little practice, your feet and hands should just seem to get the feel of doing it automatically. It may take a little time before you are able to perfect the technique, but don’t rush it, proper double clutching is definitely worth taking the time to learn.
Note that one of the most effective times to use double clutching is when slowing your car down or coming to a stop. While double clutching and downshifting, you will be able to gradually slow down your car without causing any stress to either your transmission, or putting too much pressure on your brakes, thus extending much of the life of many components of your vehicle.
As with any proper driving technique, it may be possible to get the basic idea down fairly quickly. However, as quick as one can get the basic idea down, it may also take a long time to reach perfection. For that reason, it is important to practice frequently. Also, do not be afraid to seek the help of other drivers in your quest to master the double clutch technique. At times it may seem difficult, but just remember that practice makes perfect and to not give up, even if the technique sometimes seems out of reach.