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transmission issue 4L60E

4L60E Transmission Problems


Experiencing problems with your 4L60E transmission? As with any transmission, specific issues can seemingly appear out of nowhere. Knowing the signs, symptoms and solutions of a failing transmission can help you avoid the headache.

Below we provide 10 warning signs and causes of a failing 4L60E transmission along with additional helpful information to help you be as educated as you can regarding your vehicle’s transmission.

About the 4L60E Transmission

General Motors began producing the 4L60E to succeed the 700R4 transmission, signifying the first time the company moved away from hydraulically-controlled transmissions and incorporated an electronically-controlled model into its vehicles. This transmission series is a four-speed automatic transmission, which includes four forward gears and one reverse gear.

Let’s break down its name to understand precisely how this transmission operates.

  • 4: The four indicates four forward gears, meaning it’s a four-speed transmission.
  • L: The L signifies that this transmission possesses longitudinal applications, meaning it includes rear-wheel driving.
  • 60: The 60 signifies the value of torque it possesses. With this amount of torque the vehicle should be able to safely move nearly three tons.
  • E: The E signifies that it possesses electronically controlled shifting. This feature offers many advantages like smoother engine output and better car control.

The 4L60E transmission series remained in production for over two decades, from 1992 -2013. During its time in production, this automatic transmission ended up incorporated in over thirty vehicle models. 

About 4L60E transmission

The following is a complete list of vehicle models that contain the 4L60E transmission.

    • GMC Canyon: 2004-2012
    • GMC Envoy: 2003-2009
    • GMC Jimmy: 1993-2005
    • GMC Safari: 1993-2005
    • GMC Savana: 2003-2013
    • GMC Sierra: 1500-2500
    • GMC Sonoma: 1994-2005
  • GMC Yukon
  • GMC Yukon XL Denali
    • GMC Vandura: 1993-1996
    • Chevrolet Astro: 1993-2005
    • Chevrolet Avalanche: 2002-2008
    • Chevrolet S-10 Blazer: 1994-2005
    • Chevrolet Camaro: 1994–2002
    • Chevrolet Caprice: 1994-1996
    • Chevrolet Colorado: 2004-2012
    • Chevrolet Corvette: 1994–2004
    • Chevrolet Express: 2003-2012
    • Chevrolet Impala SS: 1994–1996
    • Chevrolet S-10: 1994-2005
    • Chevrolet C/K SUV, Truck: 1993-2000
    • Chevrolet SSR: 2003-2006
  • Chevrolet Suburban

Chevrolet 4L60E transmission issue

  • Chevrolet Tahoe
    • Buick Rainier: 2004-2007
  • Oldsmobile Bravada
    • Pontiac Firebird: 1994–2002
    • Pontiac GTO: 2004
    • Saab 9-7X: 2005-2009
    • Isuzu Ascender: 2007
    • Buick Roadmaster: 1994–1996
    • Cadillac Escalade: 1999-2000, 2002-2005
    • Cadillac Fleetwood: 1994–1996vrolet TrailBlazer: 2003-2009
    • Holden Commodore: 1993–2012
    • Holden Monaro: 2001-2006
    • Holden Caprice: 1994–2008
  • Hummer H3

The 10 Most Common Problems With the 4L60E Transmission

While the 4L60E transmission is considered one of the best by GM, it is not without its flaws. Unfortunately, transmission issues have been said to occur even with the best care and maintenance. 

Below are a few of the most common problems that are known to plague the 4L60E transmission, including why your vehicle cannot shift gears and how to know if your pump is bad.  

We also offer possible causes, fixes, and costs for your convenience. Please keep in mind that these aren’t definitive solutions for every case.

1. 4L60E Transmission Third Gear Problem

The most common gear issue for a 4L60E transmission is a loss of third gear. This problem typically occurs out of the blue. You can put the vehicle into drive and shift it into second gear without issue, and just as you try to go into third, nothing happens. It’s as if your vehicle is stuck in neutral and can’t proceed. This problem happens because the piston rubber seals have shrunk from age and heat.

The Fix

To fix this issue, usually, you’ll need a new piston and clutch. A new piston’s average cost is between $1,000 to $5,000, and the average price of a new clutch can cost between $900 to $1,800. Although, pricing will depend upon your vehicle and the shop you use.

4L60E transmission 3rd gear problem

2. 4L60E Transmission Second Gear & Reverse Problems

The second most common gear issue for a 4L60E transmission is the inability to shift into second gear or go into reverse. This problem typically appears when the drive shell breaks.

The Fix

To fix this issue, you’ll need to replace the drive shell. Unfortunately, replacing the drive shell means you’ll need to remove the transmission and rebuild it. A new drive shell can cost you between $50 and $100.

3. 4L60E Transmission Difficult Second Gear Problem

The third most common gear issue for a 4L60E transmission is difficulty shifting into the second gear. A 4L60E transmission experiencing this issue will feel like it has a shift kit installed. That means it will feel like you need to apply more force when shifting into second gear. This problem typically occurs when your TCC regulator valve wears out.

The Fix

You’ll need to replace the TCC valve regulator to fix this issue. To replace the TCC valve regulator, you’ll need to pull the fan and filter. Then remove the selenoids, wiring harness, and valve body bolt. Next, lift the valve body and turn it over. The TCC valve regulator is under the valve body. A new TCC valve regulator can cost you around $65.

4. 4L60E Transmission Loss of Third or Fourth Gear Problem

A complete loss of third or fourth gear can occur. If you cannot shift into third or fourth gear, a worn-out clutch is typically the cause of a complete loss of third or fourth gear.

The Fix

To fix this issue, you need to replace the clutch. A professional mechanic or specialist should perform this repair. The average price of a new clutch can cost between $900 to $1,800. Although, pricing will depend upon your vehicle and the shop you use.

5. 4L60E Transmission Loss of All Gears / Bad Pump

A loss of all gears can occur. This problem typically occurs if your vehicle experiences a total loss of fluid or if pump failure occurs.

The Fix

You should first check your vehicle’s fluid levels to fix this issue. Be sure to turn your engine off before doing this. If the fluid levels appear correct, start the engine and double-check the levels. You will know the pump is broken if the fluid levels don’t decrease while the engine is running. If the pump is broken, it will need to be replaced. The average price of a new pump can cost between $400 to $1,200. Although, actual pricing will depend upon your vehicle and the shop you use.

4L60E transmission loss of all gears

6. 4L60E Transmission Slipping Problems

A common issue for all types of transmissions, slipping occurs when problems with the transmission fluid happen. For example, transmission fluid issues may arise when the fluid level is low. In addition, a leak or burned or old part can cause the problem to become persistent. Common indicators of slipping may include burning odors and terrible metal noises like whining or grinding. Furthermore, the check engine light might even pop on.

The Fix

To fix this issue, you should check your fluid level by removing the dipstick and determining if the levels are low. If the levels are low, you can try refilling the fluid and seeing if that resolves the problem. If the levels aren’t low, the problem could be any number of causes, and a professional mechanic or specialist will need to determine the exact cause. Pricing will depend on the part that needs replacing, the vehicle, and the shop you use.

7. 4L60E Transmission Noise Problems

A noisy transmission might occur when shifting into first gear or reverse, and a few different things can cause it. The usual cause for this problem is a lack of lubrication. Typically, shifting into neutral or third gear will cause the issue to go away. Still, it is only a momentary reprieve, and the noise will return when shifting back into first gear or reverse.

The Fix

The transmission will need to be removed and rebuilt to fix this issue. A professional mechanic or specialist will need to determine the exact cause. Pricing will depend on the part that needs replacing, the vehicle, and the shop you use.

4L60E transmission noise problem

8. 4L60E Transmission All Fluid Pumped Through Vent Problem

If your 4L60E transmission experiences this issue, it could most likely be caused by a blocked cooler line or an overfilled transmission.

The Fix

To fix this issue, flush the transmission cooler to remove the blockage. While there are various transmission cooler cleaning solvents, they don’t always eliminate the stoppage. You’ll need to replace the cooler line if the blockage doesn’t come completely undone on the first try. The average price of a new cooler line can cost between $100 to $500. Although, actual pricing will depend upon your vehicle and the shop you use.

9. 4L60E Transmission No Overdrive Problem

Over time you may notice that your 4L60E transmission does not want to shift into overdrive. The overdrive is essentially the fourth gear, which can arise due to several issues—causes for this issue range from linkage issues to band failure. To determine if the issue is simply a linkage issue, you can try shifting in OD down to D, 2, and then 1. You most likely have a linkage issue if you didn’t hear or feel the typical three clicks as the gears shifted. A

The Fix

The transmission will need to be removed and rebuilt to fix this issue. Since there a multiple causes for this issue, a professional mechanic or specialist will need to determine the exact cause. Pricing will depend on the part that needs replacing, the vehicle, and the shop you use.

10. 4L60E Transmission Shift Solenoid Problems

If your 4L60E transmission is experiencing any of the following issues, the most likely cause could be its solenoid. A faulty solenoid can cause problems such as erratic shifting, failure to downshift, or being stuck in neutral. Furthermore, a broken solenoid wire will cause severe vibrations or higher than average voltage. However, a melted solenoid wire will cause a drastic transmission temperature or higher than average voltage.

The Fix

The transmission will need to be removed and rebuilt to fix this issue. Since there a multiple causes for this issue, a professional mechanic or specialist will need to determine the exact cause. The average price of a new solenoid can cost between $40 to $100. Although, actual pricing will depend upon your vehicle and the shop you use.

What Transmission Succeeded the 4L60E Transmission?

In 2001, the 4L65E transmission was developed as an upgraded version of the 4L60E and incorporated into various vehicle models. However, while the 4L65E has more powerful internals like the five pinion planets versus the four pinion planets of the 4L60E, you cannot distinguish the two transmissions visually. The inability to distinguish the two is because the 4L60E and the 4L65E share the same exterior parts.

Need a Lemon Law Attorney?

Although the above list includes several common problems that the 4L60E transmission can experience, it is in no way a complete list of possible issues. Unfortunately, if you find yourself with a 4L60E transmission experiencing a problem you can’t resolve, you may need to replace it. 

If your 4L60E transmission does need replacing, it could cost between $3,000 – $4,500 for the part alone. If your vehicle is still under warranty, you may be able to use California’s lemon law to your advantage. Contact Cali Lemon Lawyers to see how we can help you today!.


Comments (22)
    • Juan Carlos Rodriquez

      I just rebuilt my factory trans ran good reverse started going out so I took it to the shop about a month ago and yesterday it locked up on me it was running fine it just quit and the oil smells like electrical burn

    • I have been having the same issue for months. My transmission needed to get rebuilt anyways so I did that and the problem is still there. I’m pretty lost on what to try next but im thinking maybe it’s getting too hot and the fluid is losing viscosity so it won’t hold OD?

    • Same here – been having the problem with erratic shifting back and forth between 3rd and overdrive, for two years. Sometimes I can drive 200 miles with no problem, and other times it’s a pain in the ass. I haven’t been able to find any information on it, except some references that state the Body Control Module (BCM) could be the problem (?). I tried swapping out three BCMs from either a 1998 or a V6 (mine is a 1999 2.2 L). They were the closest I could find at a salvage yard, but with all of them the engine would start and then immediately die, then not start, again. Other web sites indicate a faulty Transmission Control Module, but I can find no further information on that.

    • BTW, The only error code I ever get is that the transmission filter needs changed, but changing it and replacing with new fluid made no difference.

  • 03 Avalanche 1500 w/173000 miles has run perfectly for several years and suddenly this morning it won’t stay in 1st or 2nd gear. Fluid checked and it was low. But still has issues. I’ve never heard of the tranny just suddenly doing this. It has never slipped or done anything like this prior. Ideas?

  • 89 gmc 4×4 1500 with a 360 motor which is new and transmission is also new. My problem is the truck does not accelerate when I give it gas, what might be the problem?

    • Cali Lemon Lawyers

      There are several potential reasons why your truck might not be accelerating when you give it gas. Some common possibilities include fuel delivery issues, air intake problems, ignition problems, transmission issues, and ECM problems. To determine the exact cause, it’s best to have a mechanic diagnose the issue.

  • My 95 4×4 4l60e drives fine for a while then at some point won’t shift into 3rd gear. I limped it home in second and after 10 min. decided to try it agian. All worked as it should for about 4 days today it did the same thing just wouldn’t shift past 2nd. I tried it manually and still nothing. Help me out what’s going on here. Side note this is the 2nd transmission to do the same thing on me.

    • Cali Lemon Lawyers

      There are a few potential causes for this issue. It could be a problem with the transmission fluid, such as low fluid levels or dirty fluid. It could also be a problem with the transmission solenoids or sensors. Additionally, it could be an issue with the valve body or the torque converter.

      It’s best to take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic who can run a diagnostic scan to identify any error codes and perform a transmission fluid check. They may also need to conduct a more thorough inspection of the transmission system to identify the root cause of the issue.

      If this is the second transmission that has had this issue, it’s possible that the problem is related to a larger issue with the vehicle, such as an electrical problem or an issue with the engine. A mechanic can help you determine if this is the case and what steps you should take to resolve the issue.

  • 94 k1500 just bought a rebiult transmission from a reputable dealer of rebuilt transmissions. Put it in drive it wants to move but doesnt. I have to put it in first get up to 10mph then shift to drive and it shifts fine for the remaining gears. What could cause this?

  • Hey I’ve got a 97 gmc jimmy with 4l60 shifts fine at 1/2 throttle or so at any speed but if I get on it.it doesn’t want to downshift to 2nd and if I manually shift it.it acts as if it’s slipping any thoughts

  • Cycling from D to 3rd rapidly could be the converter lockup solenoid. Requires machining the valve body for a steel insert. After steel insert/rebuild I’ve had no further issues for 72k miles. It’s pricey, but the aluminum valve body seat can’t handle the steel solenoid actuator long term.

    03 S10 4-door

  • Hii so I’m guessing but please confirm I had my 4L60E box rebuild with shifter upgrades and so forth the old box randomly started hitting neutral when in D or 3rd and sometimes while on passing speed I could manually shift to 3rd it might or might not take but can’t floor it otherwise jumps out and sometimes makes a big bang in box now the same happened to new rebuild box with in same day of return so we redid software and months after old box packed up rebuild done that night before it happened to new box my mechanic did some changes to remapped software could this be a weak old fashioned TCM and Pcm and just need to set their ratios and limits within 2004 V8 LS 5.7 rate and then only boost up once TCM and Pcm been replaced with better high performance tipes

  • 1995 Corvette – I’m on my third 4L60-E. Original lasted ~80,000 miles. Bad slipping in 3 and 4th gears, had it rebuilt for $1,900. That one crapped last week (8/2023) at 150,000 miles, had it rebuilt for $3,400. Knowing this trans is not the best, I DO NOT beat on it. And for that matter I never beat the crap out of my cars.
    Hopefully this is the last rebuild. All other parts and service costs haven’t equaled the $5,300 (plus tax) that the 4L60-E has cost me. (I do my own maintenance and repairs, except transmissions).

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