Are Double Disc Clutches Overkill?

28th Feb 2018

A lot of diesel truck owners say that if you have a manual transmission, you should replace your OEM clutch with an aftermarket double disc unit instead. The benefits are higher torque capacity, more holding power, lighter pedal effort, and increased durability. It's a "no-brainer," as they say.

Southbend clutch

A South Bend double disc clutch for Dodge diesel trucks

However, before you go dropping a few hundred on a double disc setup, it's worth talking about some specifics. In some cases, a double disc clutch is an absolute necessity. In others, that kind of setup is probably overkill. Here's what you need to know.

The Types of Trucks That Benefit From A Double Disc Clutch

There are a few situations where a truck benefits from a double disc upgrade. The questions you want to ask yourself are...

Is your engine modified? If you've increased the horsepower and torque over the stock engine, then you might need to install a double disc clutch. Stock clutches usually aren’t equipped to handle the additional power, especially if the increase is sizable (say, more than 3% over stock). If you've put a tuner on your truck that adds 50 horsepower, for example, your stock clutch isn't going to last long.

Do you use your truck to tow heavy loads often? Even if your truck’s still powered by a stock motor, it might still benefit from a double disc clutch setup. Stock clutches wear quickly if either:

  1. You're towing more than the recommended weight limit, or
  2. You're towing daily

Daily or over-the-limit towing can wear out an OEM clutch in 20k miles (or even less), and that can get expensive compared to a dual disc setup.

Are you racing (officially or unofficially)? You definitely want to upgrade to a double disc clutch system if you’re planning on hitting the race track with your truck. A double disc clutch can take a lot of abuse without burning out, so it’s the ideal solution for hard launches.

Diesel race

Whether you're hitting the track or just trying to show off on the street, hard launches kill OEM clutches pretty quickly.

Dual Disc Clutch Downsides

Upgrading to a double disc clutch has a few downsides. The biggest and most noticeable change is in driveability. Dual disc setups are all but impossible to 'feather' when the truck is unloaded, which means you'll be in for a rough start at launch, some herky jerky motion when backing up, etc.

The other downside is cost - a double disc clutch kit is substantially more costly than a single disc, especially if you go with cheap aftermarket OEM replacement compared to a premium double disc clutch. If you're just trying to replace a clutch so you can sell or trade-in the truck, then it doesn't make sense to spend big money on a dual disc system.

However, if you're planning to own your truck long-term, and you're willing to learn to drive a double-disc setup, than it makes sense to go that route. It will probably save money in the long run.

Summing Up

A double disc clutch makes sense for most diesel trucks when:

  1. They're pushing more power than stock
  2. They're towing over the recommended limit
  3. They're towing daily
  4. They're doing hard launches often (like you would if you were racing)

If your truck needs a double disc clutch, keep in mind that quality is everything. A cheaply built double disc clutch is a bad investment, as it will wear just as fast as an OEM clutch (or faster). We recommend going with a reputable brand like South Bend. They're well known in diesel racing, and their products are proven.

Got questions or just need help finding the right double disc clutch for your truck? Contact us! Our knowledgeable customer support team will be happy to assist you.