Aston Martin Transmission Basics
Aston Martin has four basic types of transmission: manual, automated manual, automatic, and dual-clutch. I'll only be focusing on the manuals and automated manuals in this since there isn't much to say about the automatic or dual-clutch that is any different from any other car.
The manual and automated manual transmissions are, in more specific terms, transaxles. Transaxles are transmissions that have a differential built into them. This is a very important thing to know when doing maintenance, as the transmission and differential both share the same gear oil. That means the gear oil you use must be appropriate for both transmissions and differentials. Using the wrong gear oil can damage the transmission and lead to very costly repairs. I'll cover that more in the Gear Oil section below.
Knowing that the transmission is also called a transaxle isn't that big of a deal so long as you know what gear oil to use. The terms are sort of like guns: All rifles are guns, but not all guns are rifles. Same thing: All transaxles are transmissions, but not all transmissions are transaxles. It's just good to know the term transaxle as that term will be used interchangeably with transmission and gearbox, but has a more specific meaning.
The only thing I’m going to mention about dual-clutch transmissions is that "dual clutch" and "dual plate clutch" are two VERY different things and should not be confused. A dual-clutch transmission is a transmission that has two clutch units. A dual-plate clutch is a single clutch unit that has two discs within it. If you say you have a dual clutch in your 2005-2018 V8 or V12 Vantage, you are mistaking terms and saying you have a transmission that doesn't exist for your car. Terms like "twin disc" and "twin plate" are used interchangeably, but "twin clutch" is not the same at all. It might seem like a small difference, but it's an important one.
The manual and automated manual transmissions are actually the same thing. The only difference is that the manuals are controlled via a gear stick and cables to change gears while the automated manual uses paddles and solenoids.
There are two basic transmissions: the 6-speed and 7-speed. Each of these comes in manual and automated manual versions.
The manual 6-speed transmission controlled with a traditional gear stick (AKA gear shift, stick shift, gear level, etc). A pair of cables are attached to the bottom of the gear stick and these run toward the rear of the car and connect to the gearbox. The cables pull on either end of a shift linkage arm, and that in turn is what shifts the transmission up and down.
Do not over-shift
A major thing I try to warn people about is over-shifting. The shifter cables attach on either end using ball-and-socket connections. If you try jamming that gear shift too hard to make a shift as fast as possible, it’s very possible that you can pop the cable socket loose. Seriously, it has actually happened to me. If you do it wrong enough, you the socket may crack or break, which would prevent a “quick” repair and require the entire cable be replaced.
I can’t stress this enough: do not try to brute-force your shifts. You’re not going to be any faster. All you’re doing is risking losing control of your gearbox. Just don’t do it. If you want to shift quicker, learn the specific movements of going from one gear to the next, and learn to modulate the clutch pedal better. Take it easy and practice the technique, not speed. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
Heel-toe and rev matching
This comes up fairly often because quite a few people struggle with it in their manual Astons. The first concern is that the factory gas pedal is too narrow and people have a hard time working the throttle and brake at the same time. An aftermarket gas pedal can reduce the gap between the two pedals and make it easier to module the two with one foot, but that doesn’t fix the main problem.
The point of heel-toe driving is to put the engine at the RPM level you want it to be at to prepare for shifting into a different gear. That might be a little tough to follow so let’s break it down.
When you’re driving along and you shift into a taller/higher gear (say, from 4th into 5th), the engine “bogs down” and the RPMs drop when the transmission goes into the taller gear. It’s the exact same concept as when you’re riding a bicycle - it gets really hard to pedal when you shift up, so your pedaling gets slower and you have to work your way back up to a quicker pedaling speed, but you end up going much faster than you had been going in the previous gear. The same thing happens with your car when you shift into a taller gear.
If you don’t want the engine to bog down when you shift into a higher gear, say if you’re on a track or doing some canyon carving, the trick is to rev the engine up so it’s at a high RPM level when you shift. When you go into the taller gear, the engine speed (RPMs) have dropped a bit, but it’s still higher than it would have otherwise been, so the engine doesn’t bog down as much. This isn’t something you’d need to do when driving in a straight line - you’re already getting the RPMs as high as you can in that situation. Rather, it’s something you would do when you’re trying to maneuver the car around turns or corner in the road where outright speed aren’t your primary concern.
That means you need to use the brake pedal to slow down for the corner, the clutch pedal to change gear, and the gas pedal to get the engine up to the right RPM level to prevent the engine ‘bog’ when you shift. That’s three pedals and you’ve [generally] got two feet. [Under Construction]
Even if the pedals themselves aren’t an issue.
I get a lot of questions about paddle-shifted Aston Martins so I think an overview would help a lot of owners and prospective owners of cars with these transmissions.
Clutch Learn Procedure