Does double-clutching do any good (or harm) on modern manual transmissions?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

Years ago my older brother showed me how to downshift to my non-
synchronized first gear on my three-speed manual transmission by "double
clutching." Over the years I've continued the practice, even though it's no
longer necessary. I limit my double clutching to higher-speed shifts only,
like during passing or mountain driving. Now my son is about to get his
driver's license. Should I teach him this technique? Does it help or hurt
the life of the clutch and transmission if done properly? -- John

TOM: Great question, John. For those of you unfamiliar with the technique,
double clutching is when you push in the clutch, shift into Neutral, let
out the clutch, give it some gas, then step on the clutch again and shift
into the next gear.

RAY: And technically speaking, teaching him to double clutch would do him
about as much good as giving him a buggy whip. Double clutching was used to
keep the gears from grinding back in the days before "synchronizers" were
commonplace. That was many, many moons ago.

TOM: Today, all manual transmissions have "synchros," so double clutching
is completely unnecessary. And in fact, it DOES put extra wear and tear on
the clutch because you're using it twice for every shift instead of once.

RAY: Nonetheless, I think you should definitely teach it to your son, John.

TOM: Oh, I agree. By all means!

RAY: Teaching him double clutching will serve two purposes.

TOM: First, it will lend you an air of authority, knowledge and technical
knowhow. And since teen-agers rarely afford their fathers any of these
qualities, this is something you should hold fast to.

RAY: But more important, John, it will give him an opportunity to impress
girls. And trust me. This will create a bond between father and son that no
amount of Saturday bass fishing could ever match.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One