What is a Dog Box Transmission and How Does it Work?

What is a dog box transmission? How does it differ from any other type of transmission? How do you operate one? If you’re familiar with vehicles and you know a lot about transmissions in particular, you may already have answers to these questions. However, if you’re reading this article there is every chance that you have only heard of a dog box transmission in passing and you want to know more, or perhaps you have absolutely no idea what it is and have never even heard of such a thing until right now. Whatever the case might be, you might find it rather interesting to know more about these unique types of transmissions, even if you’ve never considered yourself to be mechanically inclined in the past.

What Is It?

A dog box transmission is probably the type of transmission that every driver dreams of using at least once. It’s largely designed for race cars because it’s meant to be quickly shifted from one gear to the next. You don’t even need a clutch to do it. The reason so many drivers dream of using one is because you don’t have to be gentle with it. Remember how when you learned to drive you were taught to push in the clutch, shift gears at just the right moment, then slowly let out the clutch and ease back into the throttle? That’s not the case here. Instead, you give the car all the gas it can handle, wait until the engine RPMs are sky-high, and then slam it from one gear to the next without giving it a second thought. The reason so many drivers dream of using one is because it’s fun. It definitely has a practical purpose, though. Because it is used so often on race cars, it’s designed for that particular type of environment where you need to shift gears very quickly without dealing with all of the extra steps involved on your typical street vehicle. That said, there are a few sports cars which are street legal that come with one of these. There aren’t too many, but there are a few.

How Did It Get Its Name?

This is where you have to allow yourself to be a bit creative. Technically, the dog box transmission was named because of the so-called dog ears on the gears. If you’re a very imaginative individual, you might be able to look at one and see this. Many people look at a picture of such a transmission and start scratching their heads. It’s understandable, as it does take a bit of a stretch of the imagination to see any dog ears whatsoever. Nevertheless, that is how it got its name, so if you see gears with protruding parts that are designed to marry into identical recessed parts, you are indeed looking at a dog box transmission.

What Are The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Using One?

As previously mentioned, this type of transmission is used for many race cars. As such, one of the clear benefits of using one is that the transmission itself is designed to take a lot of abuse. That’s precisely why these transmissions are bigger and more solid than other types of transmissions. They shift much faster than a traditional street transmission. Perhaps the biggest potential benefit of using one has already been discussed. As far as most drivers are concerned, they are a lot of fun to use. However, it’s not all fun and games. These transmissions are designed to take abuse, that part is true. However, the very act of doing exactly what you’re supposed to do when you use one has a tendency to wear the gears out faster, largely because you are slamming the gearbox from one gear to the next. Over time, this can weaken the transmission. In some cases, it can even cause those dog ears to break off. When that happens, you don’t really have any choice but to repair the transmission. The caveat is that these transmissions weren’t typically designed for street-legal cars except in a few rare cases. Race teams don’t really care that the transmissions wear out faster. They only care that the car moves faster so they can win the race. If you have a street-legal car with a transmission of this type, it’s not like you’re going to find yourself replacing the transmission every few months. However, you may discover that you have to replace it more often than in some of your other automobiles. Like everything else, it’s all about give and take.

The Proper Technique

As previously mentioned, there’s not a lot of finesse used with this type of transmission. Most race cars don’t use a clutch so it’s all about learning when to get off the gas so you can shift gears. The idea with a dog box transmission is that you allow the engine RPMs to reach a peak level, then quickly take your foot off the gas while simultaneously slamming the gear shift into the next gear. As soon as you’ve accomplished that, your foot goes right back on the gas. If you’re racing, you’re obviously not going to be very gentle when you do this. In a street car, you might be slightly less aggressive, but the process doesn’t change much. It’s a lot of fun to drive a car like this, but it may not be so much fun if you’re a passenger, as it does tend to cause the car to lurch back and forth quite a bit.

Even drivers that don’t have the slightest interest in driving a true race car typically have a desire to drive a car with the transmission like this at least once in their lives. That’s completely understandable. It really does make you feel like you’re one with the automobile that you’re driving because you have to be able to sense when to shift in order to make it all work well. The person that is truly gifted at driving a car like this can shift gears without you scarcely even noticing. However, if you don’t possess that skill, you might lose your lunch in the process. Either way, it’s an experience that you won’t forget anytime soon.

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