The strength of a 4L60E transmission is impressive, so much so that it works for both cars and trucks.
However, the system may deal with situations where the 4L60E transmission won’t move in any gear.
If that happens, it’s probably due to an issue with the pump or the converter.
Leaving it unattended could cause the root of the problem to take out the rest of the transmission.
And that’s why replacing the whole system is necessary.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the most common problems with the 4L60E transmission.
Plus, I’ll give you some recommendations of which transmission to consider buying and a guide to swap it with the old one.
Best Transmission Rebuild Kits
First thing’s first: you’ll need a 4L60E transmission for sale. There are many options, but I’ve boiled it down to a list with the most powerful transmission kits for an overhaul.
01. JEGS 603020 4L60E Performance Transmission
- Heavy-duty sunshell
- Brand-new electronics
- Complete shift kit
- Boost valve
Here’s the top pick for a smooth 4L60E transmission rebuild.
The unit works with wiring harness connectors of 13 pins, and it supports a powerful capacity of up to 450 HP.
This kit includes new electronics, a heavy-duty 3-4 clutch pack, and a heavy-duty sunshell. There’s also a shift kit and a high-quality reman pump.
The transmission comes with the bolt-on bellhousing that fits GM LS-Series engines seamlessly.
For older models like 1996-2002 Camaros, it’s necessary to use the classic 4L60 tailshaft housing.
This unit doesn’t include the housing with the mount needed for the torque link.
With that said, the transmission works for newer and older models just fine.
It can convert the system to an overdrive transmission featuring electronic controls.
However, you’ll need several modifications to pull that through. For instance, the procedure requires transmission controllers, and driveshaft changes, among other things.
02. Motorcity Rack & Pinion 4-Speed 4L60E Transmission 4×4 K1500
- Torque Converter
- Shift Correction
- TransGo Actuator Feed Limit Valve
- Gaskets, seals, sealing rings & more
This rebuilt kit comes with an enhanced torque converter that virtually eliminates any risk of front seal leaks.
It also does an incredible job at reducing vibrations and prevent bushing wear prematurely.
Upon testing, the system provides a leak-free performance with high balance and consistency.
The valve body has a thorough system correction with a recalibration kit, which performs flawlessly.
Any valve prone to wear has extra protection following a vacuum test procedure to guarantee proper function.
This is heavily noticeable once you rebuild an old transmission system suffering from common valve body problems.
Plus, everything needed for a complete overhaul comes in the package.
You get new gaskets, seals, sealing rings, rubber, metal-clad seals, and much more.
03. Chevy 4L60E Transmission Raybestos Deluxe Level 2 Rebuild Kit
- Bushing Kit
- Bearing Kit
- .500 TV Boost Valve
- Heavy-Duty Housing
Last but not least, this is a top-tier transmission that comes with almost everything you’ll need for a few things.
It offers a bearing kit, steels, deep-pan filter, bushing kit, and much more.
However, there are no metals with slits that came in the 4L60E transmission kit for the 2001 Chevy Tahoe.
Before getting to work, make sure to check the components thoroughly to see if you’ll need extra parts.
Still, this transmission kit remains one of the highest quality choices out there. It provides many benefits, such as improved strength, broad usability, and impressive power.
All of these attributes add up to create a long-lasting unit with consistent performance.
Setting up this unit is not hassle-free, but not impossible either.
While the instructions are not the best, a well-seasoned mechanic won’t have much trouble with this kit.
3 Common Problems With 4L60E Transmission
There are three common 4L60E transmission problems: failure in the 3/4 clutch pack, broken drive shell, and worn TCC regulator valve.
In this section, I’ll describe these problems, the symptoms to spot them, and potential solutions for each scenario.
Problem 01: Failure In The 3/4 Clutch Pack
Main Symptom: No Third Gear.
While driving, the transmission shifts to second gear just fine. But, when it should go to third, the engine runs away as if it’s in neutral.
Here’s how you can run a diagnosis to see what’s causing this problem.
- Get the screws off the bell and remove it.
- Then, pull the pan.
- Continue by taking out the filter.
- Remove the solenoids out.
- Pull the drum.
- Take the drum out and separate it.
Inside, you may encounter a burned-up 3/4 clutch pack.
What causes the 3/4 clutch pack to fry?
The real problem could be the 3/4 piston. This piece has rubber seals that can shrink due to heat and age.
When hydraulic pressure blows around the piston, it fries the clutch pack.
Solution: Get a new piston and a new clutch pack to solve this problem.
Problem 02: Broken Drive Shell
Main Symptoms: First gear only.
When in drive, there’s no shift to second and no reverse either. This is another common problem that requires you to pull apart the transmission for a diagnosis.
Open it up following the same step as before up until you remove the drums.
- At this point, take a closer look at the middle section and remove the snap ring.
- Follow up by pulling out the planetary gear set.
- Remove the input ring gear.
- Get the drive shell out.
With the drive shell out, inspect the piece thoroughly. Check if everything is alright.
If you experience the problem mentioned above, you’re likely dealing with a broken drive shell.
Besides breaking, it can also strip out the splines. In both cases, the symptoms are the same.
Find the broken pieces and take them out of the unit, too.
Solution: Buy a new and healthy drive shell to get rid of this problem from the root.
Problem 03: Worn TCC Regulator Valve
- The “check engine” light is on.
- Shifting to second is hard, like after installing a shift kit.
- “Code 1870: Internal Slippage” after a diagnostic scan.
If you experience these issues, the main problem is in the valve body. Here’s how you run an inspection.
- Pull the pan.
- Remove the filter.
- Get the solenoids and the wiring harness out.
- Unscrew the valve body bolts.
- Lift the valve body and turn it over.
Check the location of the TCC regulator valve. It often wears out its bore, causing the converter clutch to slip.
When that happens, the computer notices this issue and sets the trouble code, turns on the check engine light, and maxes out the electronic pressure control.
As a result, the shifts get hard.
Solution: Get an oversized replacement valve and reamer, or use the spring included in top-quality rebuild kits.
Remove the clip, plug it in, and assembly the valve. Replace the spring and the valves plug and clip.
This new spring should keep the valve from moving, stopping leaking, code 1870, and hard shifting.
How to Rebuild 4L60E Transmission?
When you consider rebuilding a 4L60E transmission is a must, there are several ways you can do it. It really depends on who you ask.
However, the process takes a considerable amount of time and there are a bunch of variables to consider during the procedure.
To make this section more interesting, I recommend watching this complete rebuild video.
While it’s long, the video truly showcases the ups and downs of rebuilding a transmission.
4L60E Transmission Swap Guide
Consider a swap when the 4L60E transmission won’t move in any gear. Here’s an example with recommendations of how to do it.
Systems involved: Level 4 Gearstar 4L60E with four speeds & three-speed TH350
- The Gearstar 4L60E with four speeds is slightly bigger than the three-speed TH350, but only by a few inches. Still, the 4L60E is stronger and provides precise adjustments of the shift points.
- First thing to remove is the driveshaft. The TH350 for trucks uses a long tail shaft, which is the same size as the 700-R4 and the 4L60E overdrive. In cars, the TH350 is shorter. Shorten the driveshaft if it’s necessary.
- Next step is to replace the headers, which you can do with the car on the lift. Removing the headers will give the trans plenty of space to drop down. Remove the linkage and the lines for the transmission fluids off the trans case as well. Then, clamp them back to minimize potential leaks.
- Unbolt the crossmember out of the frame and get the crossmember off the transmission. Take out the bellhousing bolts and the torque converter. This will allow you to lower down the transmission using a transmission jack.
- Here’s when searching for an optimal 4L60E transmission rebuild kit pays off. The converter may arrive already attached. Plus, you get the exact fluid amount and a proper dipstick. Since the 4L60E transmission can deal with 650 hp and a torque capacity of 600 lb-ft, that’s more than enough for a 383ci small-block.
- Plug the MSD TCM harness into the trans, right at the valve body’s upper side. The MSD TCM (Transmission Control Module) controls the valve body, getting rid of the throttle valve cable used by other units.
- The 4L60E and the TH350 have similar cases, which means that the former should fit seamlessly. Still, the electronic factor may rear its head once you check clearance to inspect the speed sensor of the vehicle. You can shorten the plastic plug of the sensor by a quarter inch. If it still hits the floor, base the floor for clearance.
- With the 4L60E ready for lifting, line up the input shaft with the crank. Continue by sliding the new trans into place, and attach the torque converter and flywheel with the bolts. Follow up with the bellhousing bolts.
- Here, you may need to slide the crossmember of the transmission back by two inches due to trans’ length. Then, slot the crossmember’s original holes to bolt the unit into the frame’s existing holes.
- Despite a computer-controlled system, the transmission also uses mechanical linkage. Attach it to the same spot as the other.
- If necessary, shorten and rebalance the old driveshaft. Then, bolt it back in place using new shorty headers as well. This will provide better ground clearance.
- The MSD TCM is compact, so it fits anywhere. Under the dash is a good idea.
- Programming the MSD is easy due to its friendly interface. It has a joystick to control the menus, and it’s intuitive enough. Use it to select gear ratio, size, and several other parameters.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why is there a loud noise in first gear and/or reverse?
It could be that a torrington bearing or planetary bearing is no longer working as it should. This problem needs removal and build.
Rebuild as soon as possible to save extra damage to the other hard parts.
Why is all of the fluid getting pumped through the vent tube?
This problem may be happening due to an overfilled transmission or a plugged cooler line.
Try flushing the transmission cooler as well as the cooler lines.
How to fix a transmission that shifts manually but not automatically?
Normally, this issue happens when there’s a new PCM. To solve it, check the PCM and the wiring.
Plus, take a look at the different sensors, like the VSS and TPS.
Why is fluid coming out of the transmission’s front side?
Run a diagnosis on the front pump bushing, which may be responsible for this problem. In this case, you may have to remove and rebuilt the transmission.
If there’s a scored hub, you may have to replace the converter as well. A bushing walking out usually leads to front seal leaks.
Why is there no 1st or 4th gear available?
The Shift A solenoid could be failing. Other potential causes are wiring problems between the PCM to trans.
Run a diagnostic test to find the root and act accordingly.
When the 4L60E transmission won’t move in any gear, the easiest way to solve the problem is with a brand-new system.
This way, you get rid of the problem without any guesswork.
Consider one of the options reviewed here, and don’t let the common issues stop you from rocking the beautiful roar of the engine.