4160e Transmission

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The 4L60E transmission is one of the most recognizable and well-known on the US car market today. Produced by GM (General Motors), it was first produced in 1992 and began being phased into the market during the following 2 years. 4L60E Transmission (3’rd gen) The major difference between the two-piece case 4L60E versions, is that the bellhousing bolts have slightly different patterns. This case is made to bolt up to the older legacy engine bolt patterns, such as the small-block Chevy. 9 bolts connect the transmission to the engine, which is three more than the 93-97.

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The 4L60E transmission has been in production for over twenty years, even longer if you consider the fact that it came from the 4L60 (700R4). the “E” at the end of 4L60 indicates that it is electronically controlled. 4L60E Identification can be quite the chore since the transmission has been in production for so long.

The GM 4L60/E series are great transmissions used for decades in performance vehicles, but their reputation has somewhat suffered because old-school mods never significantly improved durability. Especially in extreme racing applications, modern horsepower demands modern parts,. Chevy 4L60e Automatic Transmission to fit car and truck applications. This is a generic listing we will obtain your Vin number in order to ship the correct unit to you Complete system correction and recalibration kit installed to address several OE flaws.

It is told exactly when to shift by the computer and it allows for more accurate conditions based shifting. It also allowed for more than one set of shift points to be programmed into the transmission, which allowed for tow haul mode in the trucks and high performance modes for muscle cars.

The 4L60E was utilized in cars and light duty trucks. The 4L80E was used for heavier duty trucks. When it was introduced, the original small-block Chevy engine was still in production, and it was retained for the LS Gen III line of engines. The 4L60E bellhousing can bolt to either engine, although you may need an adapter to get a Gen III transmission to bolt to Gens I and II and vice versa.

For the purposes of easy identification, we have broken the 4L60E into 4 distinct eras. These eras are easy to identify from the outside of the transmission. Really it’s 3 eras, with the fourth making sure that you aren’t getting a 700R4/4L60 by mistake.

Here are a few characteristics that all years share.

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  • ALL 4L60E transmission have a 12 pin connector from the harness. They can be purple or green depending on the year
  • They all are shifted by the vehicles ECM
  • They all have aluminum cases
  • No changes in gearing

4L60E One Piece Case Identification: 93-97

The one-piece case 4L60E was produced from 1993 through 1997. This is the easiest way to identify it. The 4L60 is the latter model 700R4 transmission, only the name changed, if you think you may have a 700R4 look here to identify it. GM changed its naming nomenclature into a universal standard across all of its product line. The 4 stands for 4 speed, L is for Longitudinal (for a rear wheel drive vehicle), and 60 is the torque capacity. 60 is supposed to be for 600 pound feet of torque that this transmission can handle. Although, everyone would agree that the transmission got better as time went on.

If the transmission that you are looking at has a one-piece case, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have a 700R4/4L60. In order to verify that you aren’t looking at a 700r4 you’ll need to verify that the transmission has a harness connection, and not a TV Cable. At that point you can be certain that you have identified a 4L60E.

If you have a one-piece case transmission and you’d like to confirm that It is a 4L60E you’ll need to look at the code on the transmission. The year code starts over every decade, but it’s not an issue because they have a two-piece case in the 2000’s. You can now jump down to the year identification guide. The 4L60E uses a dust cover similar to that used on the TH350 or TH400 transmissions.

  • Four bolts connect the tail shaft (or transfer case) to the transmission.
  • The vehicle speed sensor changed locations during the production run. From 1993 to 1995 (Corvette till 96’) it was on the driver’s side of the tail shaft. From 1996 and up it moved to the passenger side.
  • There is an information sticker on top of the bell housing at the very top of the transmission. It is impossible to read with the transmission in the car. It is very easy to read. But, if you are looking at a transmission in the car, or if the sticker has been removed, you’ll find that it has also been machined into the passenger side of the transmission at the rear corner above the pan.
  • These have the classic 6 bolt bellhousing like the other classic transmissions that came before it.
  • This version, as well as the 96-99 4L60E use a 298mm input shaft/torque converter.

4L60E Two-Piece Case Identification: 1996-1999

The major difference between the two-piece case 4L60E versions, is that the bellhousing bolts have slightly different patterns. This case is made to bolt up to the older legacy engine bolt patterns, such as the small-block Chevy. 9 bolts connect the transmission to the engine, which is three more than the 93-97 version.

  • Six bolts are now used to connect the tail shaft.
  • They only have three different types of bell-housings in North America. The most common of these is the 90 degree V6 and V8 Bellhousing. There’s also a 60 degree V6 bellhousing as well. The last bellhousing type is the special Corvette adapter.
  • This version, as well as the 93-97 4L60E use a 298mm input shaft/torque converter.
  • The vehicle speed sensor is still on the passenger side of the tail-shaft.

2 Piece Case Identification: 2000 and Newer

The 2000 and newer model looks virtually identical to its 96-99 predecessor, but there were many improvements made to strengthen the transmission. The major physical change is to the transmission bellhousing, this was in order to allow it to bolt to the newer LS series of engines.

  • Still maintains the six bolt pattern at the tail shaft.
  • The entire length of the transmission is ¾” longer.
  • The ECM connector is green from 2000-2005, and purple from 2006 and up. The 2006 and up have a black input shaft speed sensor.
  • While still compatible with the 1955 and up bolt pattern, the new LS series engines added a bolt hole at the very top, which is reflected on this bellhousing
  • The input shaft and torque converter are now 300mm, which means that they are no longer compatible with each other.

The 4L60E transmission is both the physical and spiritual successor to theTH700R4. It was the workhorse of the GM automatic transmissions at the turn of the century. It began replacing the 700R4 (which was then known as the 4L60) in 1997. They were both longitudinal transmissions with four forward gears and a reverse gear. The major difference between the two is the way the shifts are handled. The 4L60E uses computer control to shift. That is what the “E” stands for. Instead of just knowing the throttle position to guess engine load, the ECM uses the sensors in the engine to know exactly what kind of load it is under. This allows for optimal shifts under all conditions, which improved fuel economy and engine life.


  • Here is a great video on Youtube from a guy who really knows his stuff.
  • Here is a link to a forum on LS1tech.com. It has all of the codes on it.
  • This is the most commonly used transmission for an LS swap, due to it’s relative affordability and availability.

4L60E Specs

Manufacturer: General Motors
Production: 1992- Present Day
Type: 4 Speed Longitudinal Automatic
Gear Ratios:
  • First- 3.06
  • Second- 1.62
  • Third- 1.00
  • Fourth- 0.70
  • Reverse-2.29
Input Shaft: 298 mm
Torque Converter Lock: Yes
Overdrive: Yes
RPO Code: M30
Outer Case Material: Aluminum, with a 2 removable bellhousing
Controlled by Computer: Yes: Controlled by the engines ECU
Weight: Roughly 133 pounds dry

The gearing was a direct carry over from its predecessor. The 60 in its name refers to the fact that it was designed to handle 6000 pounds of gross vehicle weight. Although the acronym never changed, the 4L60E received continuous improvements throughout its existence. The later ones are certainly stronger.


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The 4L60E transmission came onto the scene back in 1992. It served as a replacement or an upgrade to the 700R4 transmission, which was also known as the 4L60 transmission. Both transmissions were mostly similar. But the major difference came from the upgrade coming from hydraulically to electronically controlled transmissions. The transmission which was developed and produced by General Motors/Hydramatic, became widely available in a large number of GM vans, SUV and truck applications. It was also available in many rear-wheel drive car applications too. Some of the most popular car applications include the Chevrolet Corvette, Camaro, Impala and more.

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The Good And The Bad

The 4L60E can be classified into both an early version as well as a late version. Given such, the differentiation occurred in 1996. With many variations, the easiest to recognize externally is the removable bell-housing found on the late model 4L60E transmissions. As the arrived in 1996, it was not fully created in until 1998. With this transmission not as widespread as it once was, there are still some applications that GM uses for this 1998 transmission. This transmission can still be found in light-duty van applications and even in the overseas market in the Holden Commodore.

The popularity of this transmission was based on many of the carryover features. The low speed performance capability was one of them. Additionally, the transmission also featured strong fuel economy performance. Then, there was the addition of the electronic control that improved the performance of this transmission tremendously. Given its performance, there were common issues with the transmission; the component’s ability to use the reverse gear was seen as a grave issue. This was generally caused by buildup of debris.

4L60E Performance Specs

The 4L60E transmission is equipped to withstand as well as a handle the max engine torque of 360 lb.-ft. Additionally, the 4L60E’s name states a tremendous amount about the transmission. The number 4 in the title indicates that the transmission is a 4 speed transmission. The L in the title signified that the transmission as an engine that sits longitudinally. The 60 in the name signifies that there is 6000 pounds of GVW.


Why Is The 4l60e A Bad Transmission? Is It The Worst Ever Made?

For many, the 4L60E transmission is a good transmission, but for others, it appears as if it is the worst transmission ever made. One GM owner stated: “My opinion is that the 4L60E is not the worst transmission ever made. Did you buy the truck new or used? If used, then one has no idea exactly what the transmission went through before you bought it.”

Another 4L60E owner added: “The 4L60E is as common as the TH350 except it is newer and bigger. No, its definitely not the most defective transmission on the road. Most all vehicle manufacturers have their “Problem children”. When I was at the Oldsmobile GMC dealer back in the 80’s it seemed that all I ever worked on was the 440T4. They would be lined up out the door and I made a ton of money on them. They were replaced by the 4T60 and 65E’s. Aftermarket has pretty much taken over with the 4L60E’s much like the TH350’s. There are aftermarket parts I prefer to use in my overhauls of these. GM had some design flaws in these which got corrected by GM and the aftermarket. I, personally would rather have a fresh built HD 4L60E any day than some of these newer models coming on the market.”

How Can I Tell If My 4l60e Transmission Is Bad?

When it comes to troubleshooting the 4L60E, you have to keep in mind that the automatic transmission (4L60-E) in your rear wheel drive GM vehicle will usually experience failure in one of two ways:

The Transmission Will Begin Slipping

  • Internal mechanical failure will be the cause of transmission ‘slippage’.
  • Your transmission fluid will appear at a low level. This is generally due to a fluid leak somewhere which will result in the transmission slipping.

Transmission Fails to Shift Out of Gear

  • Generally, this problem will arise when the PCM will sense an electrical issue and commands the transmission not to move and stay in “limp mode”.
  • While the transmission is in “limp mode”, the automatic transmission will fail to downshift or upshift.

How Long Do 4l60e Transmissions Last?

Different 4L60 owners offer their perspective on the longevity of the 4L60e transmission:

Owner Number One:

“It really depends who you ask. Some say it's on borrowed time, and others will say it will be fine as long as it shifts good and all. I'm somewhat in the middle. I'd be a little hesitant, but I also wouldn't be terribly worried of I drove it and it felt good with no slippage or harsh shifts.”

Owner Number Two:

“I have close to 300k on my truck back in the day before I sold it. [The] 4l60e from 1996 held up well. Reverse [kind of] was finicky, every now and then it would slip but had a good life. I honestly think around 250-300k it should be rebuilt if its original.”

Owner Number Three:

“To answer it in short, I took [$2000] put it aside for the [transmission], learned over the fourteen years I’ve owned it, [that it’s a matter of not if, it’s when]. [I changed] the fluid regularly and found adding a bottle of Lucas non slip is the best thing. Typically [I] think most that stuff is snake oil but I’m telling you it works, keeps solenoids from sticking too. I do it yearly. Don’t use [overdrive], unless you’re going over 60, you’ll get the same mileage and won’t be wearing the 3-4 out. I drive it easily in 1st till its in 2nd then slowly give it more throttle. Driving it hard that 1-2 shift seems to shorten life How do I know, I’ve been through 5 of these. Just my opinion. [My first transmission] lasted less than 100 miles. [The] last one lasted close to 100k [miles]. Seems most of these around 40-50 can go.”
Hope you make 300k. [If you do, I would be] shocked. Go easy on them they aren’t all that great, [in my opinion].”

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Owner Number Four:

“I would be more interested in the number of shifts before failure. Wear in a transmission in my opinion- mainly occurs during shifts. Once the transmission is in a gear it should see very little wear. Towing and heavy abuse increases fluid temps and reduces lubrication resulting in more wear during shifts. Yes, clutches wear but that is mainly when they slip during application and release. So, to just go off mileage alone is probably not the best way to judge. A 4l60e that has 300k miles from towing between the coasts could be in better shape than one with only 50k miles on it that was stop and go with thousands of shifts per day.”

What Is the Difference Between A 4l60 And A 4l60e Transmission?

The biggest difference between the 4L60 and 4L60E is how both are controlled. For 4L60E control comes from a computer. For the 4L60, control comes form a TV cable. With one being controlled by computer and the other not, there are compatibility issues that the two have.

If you tried to put a 4L60E transmission in the place where a 4L60 once resided, prepare to buy an aftermarket transmission controller so that you can control it.

If you don’t, it will not know when to kick down, when to shift or the speed of the vehicle. The 4L60 transmission would require a custom bracket to hook into the TV cable properly. Additionally, when comparing both transmissions, they don’t also don’t have the same geometry for engaging the torque converter. As a result, you will need torque converters to accomplish engagement.

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Similarities Between The 4L60 and 4L60E Transmissions

Sure, the 4L60 and the 4L60E have some differences, but there are some things that they share. Some of the similarities include:

  • Both transmissions have the bellhousing bolt pattern.
  • Both transmissions also use the same bolt pattern as well as the same transmission pan.
  • They have the same length.
  • Both the 4L60E and 4L60 have the same number of gear ratios as well as the same number of gears.

Common 4l60e Transmission Problems

Below is a partial list of some of the most common 4L60E transmission problems:

Slipping, Slow or No Reverse Available

4l60e Transmission M30

Many owners find that the “lo-reverse” clutches are beat up or worn out. There is also a fluid leak located in the reverse apply circuit. Additionally, there is a broken sunshell.

The 1-2 shift is harsh and delayed

Not only do 4L60E transmission owners experience a delay or harshness in 1-2 shift, but there have also been reports of an inability to shift into overdrive.

The 3-4 Clutches Are Not Working and Quickly Worn Out

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The 3-4 clutches are reportedly quick to wear out. So, as a result, they will need to be rebuilt after being removed. You can drive the car safely in 2 till you can get to a mechanic.

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