GM 4L60E Transmission History & Guide

It is always a pleasure of having your own car, no matter what kind of it is. If it is a passenger car or a heavy-duty vehicle for carrying goods both equally bring you a special feeling that you cannot ignore. But knowing the way of driving them is not the only thing that you need, but you must have a little idea about the engine or the machines and tools that the engine is equipped with. No, I am not asking you to need to be an automobile engineer for maintaining the vehicle but having knowledge about anything always proves a benefit for sure. So, it is not a bad idea to learn about a little automotive mechanism.

For example, this time I have come with the transmission as an integral and obviously one of the vital parts of your car engine. Transmission is nothing but a system that helps to transmit the power developed by the engine to the road wheels to sail the vehicle through the road. Apart from that, the transmission system also helps to turn the wheels towards your desired direction quite smoothly and also makes you feel comfortable while driving the vehicle. And if the transmission comes from the house of General Motors [GM] Company then you would be a privileged one to own the best available machine equipped in your car. Let’s have a look at some of the finest performances done by General Motors Company so far.

General Motors Company

If you’re thinking of a leading automotive company that is known for producing some excellent vehicles to give you the desired comfort, strength, durability, and obviously the quality, then none other than General Motors Company [GM] is the only name that certainly going to come to your mind. An American multinational corporation that has its headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, USA, is considered one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world. The four automobile brands that come from this company are Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac, and thankfully all of them are among the top choices to the buyers from all the countries across the world. For that reason, the annual worldwide sales of these vehicles have reached a milestone of more than 10 million in recent years. The best thing to say about the automobiles of General Motors Company is the engine that is equipped with some of the excellent and finest machines and tools that you never find in any other brands. If you take the transmissions of these vehicles, they can say a lot of things in their favour. For example, the 4L60E transmission, the unique one, is certainly the thing that you wish to know about a lot. Come; let’s take a nosedive to find out all the possible information about it.

What Is GM 4L60E Transmission?

GM 4L60E is a series of 4-speed overdrive, automatic shift transmissions that are designed mainly for longitudinal engine configurations. This electronically functioned transmission comes with 4 forward gears and 1 reverse gear only to drive the engine smoothly. The ‘4’ in the name goes with ‘four gears’ while the ‘L’ goes with ‘oriented longitudinally’ and ‘E’ goes with the ‘electronic’. And finally, the ‘60’ is mentioned for the torque capacity. This transmission provides an enormous 450 horsepower and 425 pounds/foot of torque. The quality, strength, durability, and extensive usability that a GM transmission provides are unique of their kind. Therefore, this kind of transmission is found in almost every GM rear-wheel drive including Camaro, Corvette, Sonama, Safari, Astro, C/K Truck, etc. This can easily be said that the GM 4L60E transmission is the best and the finest transmission ever produced.

History Behind The GM 4L60E Transmission

This versatile transmission from General Motors was previously known as Turbo-Hydrodynamic 700R4. Later, the electronic version of it is popularly known as 4L60E. The TH700R4 was introduced in 1982 but later the company had decided to convert and also modify the TH700R4 as they were very keen to look for an improved version of the transmission, a system that could be more fuel-efficient to power the cars. The thought came after keeping in mind the disaster of the fuel shortage in the 70’s and a massive invasion in the automotive market of North America by Japan.

Again in the early ‘80s the entire world had to face the recession and an excessive hike in fuel prices resulted in a massive and horrible drop down in the sales of automobiles. Following the situation, the speed-efficient four-speed TH700R4 had been replaced with the three-speed TH350.

At the same time, Turbo 700 offered a 30% overdrive and had a lower 3.06-1 final gear ratio that provided a rapid acceleration from a dead stop. But the company then still was working out for an improvement and determined to move ahead carrying the success of 4-speed TH700R4.

Then came 1990 and General Motors convincingly renamed the TH700R4 as the 4L60, a new kind of 4-speed automatic transmission that could be matched with a longitudinally placed engine. However, the company didn’t change the mechanical aspect of it. By 1997, the transmission was required to be more improvised and again a new and electronically-controlled version was introduced by the company which is popularly known as 4L60E which is much more available in 2- and 4- wheel drive trucks as well as rear-wheel-drive cars even today. The 4L60E transmission weighs 146 pounds dry, and 162 pounds wet. Besides, anything between 8.4-11.4 quarts require here for transmission fluid.

Identifications of 4L60E Transmissions

There are different types of transmissions you can find in different vehicles be it a car or any heavy-duty truck. For instance, there are 4L65E, 4L80E, 4L60, and many more. Therefore, it is quite obvious that you have some ideas about the characteristics of 4L60E so that you can identify this transmission easily.

As I have told earlier, that the evolution of 4L60E happened as time progresses and the transmission went through many changes over the years. Such as, bells to valve bodies, adding solenoid, changing in pumps and converters are the thing that has been changed over the years. Although you may find few changes along with the time still you may find some common things in all the models of this transmission. Here they are-

  1. All the transmissions have aluminum cases.
  2. All of them are shifted by the ECM of the vehicles.
  3. They all have a 12 pin connector of different colors attached to the harness.
  4. The gearing remains the same from the beginning.

1993-97 Version

In this period the 4L60E transmission comes with a single-piece case with a harness connection whereas the others have a TV Cable for a connection between the two. Besides, a dust cover can also be seen there. Moreover, the tail shaft is connected with 4 bolts and in this version, a speed sensor can be found on the driver’s side of the tail shaft. Finally, this version of transmission has the classic 6 bolt bell housing similar to the previously existing models.

1996-99 Version

As time changed, some adjustments and modifications with the transmission were intentionally done by the company. Such as, the transmission now comes with a 2-piece case.

The tail shaft is now connected with 6 bolts. The location of the speed sensor now has changed and it moved to the passenger’s side of the tail shaft. 

The transmission is connected to the engine with 9 bolts, which are 3 more than the previous version. Besides, you may find 90 degrees V6 and V8 bell housing and the bolts of them seem a little different from the previous ones.

2000-Recent Version

Although the newer model which is named the LS series looks identical from the outside and also there are some common things even from the inside as well. But now some changes have been done only to strengthen the transmission. For instance, the bell housing is now in order to allow it to bolt to the LS series of modern engines.

The color of the ECM connector is changed from green to purple with time. And the shaft sped sensor can be easily spotted for its black input.

The engine of this version has added a bolt hole at the very top and that is reflected on the bell housing.

The length of the entire transmission is now ¾” longer than previous versions and the input shaft and torque converter are also a little wider than before.

Credit: m.roadkillcustoms.com

Engine Compatibility and Adaptability

Compatibility and adaptability are the two things that make an engine adjust with any other machines and tools and also at any allotted place without making a fuss. These are the two qualities that make the GM 4L60E transmission more useful than any other. As it is electronically controlled by the PCM [Power-train Control Module] and necessary wiring is required, so it is not too difficult to attach this kind of transmission to the engine. Besides, the engine can be joined by this transmission using a GM controller. If the engine is carburetted then it requires TPS [Throttle Position Sensor] for necessary joining works. Moreover, the adaptability of this transmission makes it an excellent conversion transmission to most jeeps.

Even the versatilities of the 4L60E transmission earned a good reputation from the owners of cars and trucks from other companies and it had become popular as a conversion transmission. For instance, the Chrysler 2 and 4 wheel jeeps.

Number of Gears in A 4L60E Transmission

As we all commonly know that gears of a vehicle work to transmit power from one part to another to accelerate or decelerate the speed or change the direction while driving the vehicle. The 4L60E automatic transmission with electronic control includes 4 forward gears [and 1 reverse gear] to move the vehicles smoothly towards any direction without facing any difficulty.

Gear Ratio of 4L60E Transmissions

The gear ratio refers to the ratio between two perspective gears of an engine or a machine. Different ratio produces different outcomes. In GM 4L60E transmission the gear ratio is a matter of concern but obviously not too much. Here you’ll get a gear ratio of 3.06 to 1 for first and then 1.62 to 1 for the second. It means you’ll get a maximum torque in first gear, and then suddenly it drops down to almost half in the second. This is the point where you need to little careful while driving the vehicle. For the third gear it is 1.00 to1, then 0.696 to 1 for the fourth, and finally, 2.29 to 1 for the reverse.

Credit: truckforum.org

Number of Solenoids is In A 4L60E Transmissions

On the 4L60E transmission, the shift solenoids are found on the rear end against where the pan bolts to the case. There are 2 shift solenoids in this kind of transmission. Both of them can control up and downshifts with fluid through them. But this can happen only when the computer asks the solenoids to do so.

Number of Quarts of Transmission Fluid Does A 4L60E Takes

The fluid volume of 4L60E transmission is 12 quarts [dry] of transmission fluid. The volume is based on the stock, with a 12’torque converter’ swallow ‘transmission pan’. The ability of additional fluid will range from an extra quart or more with a deep pan. As for the passenger vehicle, it requires 12-16 quarts of transmission fluid, but the amount differs with the model of the vehicle.

Kind of Transmission Fluid To Put into A 4L60E Transmissions

In an automatic transmission, the transmission fluids are a compulsory chemical without which you cannot even think to maintain your vehicle’s engine. The transmission fluid takes a central role in well being of the transmission as well as the engine. It works to lubricate the parts inside to keep their function smooth and even it works to cool the transmission. But it is sometimes, very confusing to select the right fluid for your vehicles, be it is a car, truck, or SUV. But if it is 4L60E then you don’t need to be much worried to choose the right fluid.

Initially, Dexron 3 [Dex III] was the recommended fluid for 4L60E, but as time progressed it was phased out and the company introduced Dex 6 in 2005 which is still in use even today.

Application of 4L60E Transmissions [Car or Truck Models]

As the 4L60E transmission comes from the house of the General Motors Company and this kind of transmission is used in different vehicles that are manufactured by the same company. Therefore, most of the vehicles manufactured by GM were equipped with this transmission over years. Buick Rainier, Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Astro, GMC Envoy, Holden Monaro, Hummer H3, Pontiac Firebird, Isuzu Ascender are few names of the vehicles that come with the 4L60E transmission inside. 

Advantages of 4L60E

The Advantages of having GM 4L60E transmissions inside your vehicle cannot be defined in one word. This 4-speed overdrive transmission applies for passenger cars to heavy-duty trucks, and it also makes your vehicle strong, durable, and smooth. This quality earns this transmission the kind of reputation so that almost every alternative rear-wheel-drive vehicles that come from GM is found equipped with this brand of transmission. These kinds of advantage makes the GM 4L60E transmission popular among car users in Northern America and even today the popularity continues.

Successor of GM 4L60E Transmission

Although, every machine and tool is the best of its time. But still, there is enough opportunity for their improvement. Because as time progresses the fresh demands and requirements grow and along with that the company has to modify its products. Therefore, you always see the successor of every tool and machine, such as the GM 4L60E transmission. The 6L80 and 6L90 the two transmissions introduced in late 2005 can be considered as the two good successors of 4L60E transmissions. These 6-speed automatic transmissions have the clutch to clutch shifting is better than one-way clutches used in older versions. Since it was introduced in late 2005 the General Motors Company has applied this transmission in most of its vehicles and rightly the application still continues.

Bottom Line

Since the beginning, the General Motors Company has been maintaining its reputation of manufacturing the best without compromising its quality. And we all know it is quality that brings strength, durability, comfort, and many other good things along. So as GM 4L60E Transmission, the machine that provides the much-needed smooth functioning to your car engine and has earned praise in such a way, that the experts have started recommending this for other brands too. Isn’t it exciting!! Yeah. Maybe there would be some not-so-good factors, but those are not too tough to be managed or easily can be ignored.

So now before going to draw the finishing point, all I can say is that what I have given so far is all the relevant information about GM 4L60E Transmission for the best of my knowledge and research hopefully sufficient to give the replies to your quests regarding this matter. Good Luck!!!  

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