An automatic transmission is usually a faithful, reliable friend to the driver. Occasionally, transmissions cause trouble, though. This is when an expert’s assistance proves invaluable. Solving problems with the common 4L60E automatic transmission should be left up to a good mechanic.
Background On The 4L60E
A General Motors product, the 4L60E transmission was introduced in 1997. It’s still used in a lot of GM models today, especially trucks, truck derivatives, and other rear-wheel-drive vehicles. While this is a very reliable and well-known transmission, the sheer number of them deployed means that most mechanics are used to dealing with 4L60E transmission repair. While it can get pricey to restore a 4L60E to full working service, it’s good to know that complete replacement is rarely necessary.
Like all transmission problems, serious trouble with the 4L60E will light up the “check engine” light on the dashboard. A major transmission failure is likely to cause much more noticeable trouble for most drivers, though! Slipping gears, delayed changes, high revving, and overheating are all common signs of real problems in the transmission. In especially serious cases, entire gears may go missing. With the 4L60E, the most serious problem will be the complete absence of all gears except first (missing reverse, second, third, and fourth). This is a sign that the transmission has entered “limp home” mode in order to limit further damage.
Overheating is one of the most common signs of trouble with the 4L60E. Although it can have many causes, the simplest and most straightforward is a leaky boost valve. When this is happening, the transmission is robbed of the pressure it needs to operate its clutches properly and run the torque converter. If a mechanic determines that the boost valve is the source of the trouble, the solution is fairly simple. A valve kit is available to rebore the valve and install a new one. This is among the most affordable varieties of 4L60E transmission repair.
Tightening Up Gear Slippage
When a 4L60E transmission starts slipping gears and suffering through labored gear transitions, bad solenoids are often to blame. This is also a simple problem to fix once it’s been properly diagnosed. A good mechanic will always replace all of the transmission’s solenoids at the same time, even though the most likely problem is a failure of the electronic pressure solenoid. These parts are fairly cheap, and the labor involved here is not too extensive.
Replacing Gears And Clutches
In the most serious cases, getting a 4L60E transmission out of “limp home” mode can be difficult. Properly diagnosing the problem can be a challenge. Although the solution is often straightforward, (mechanics have singled out the reaction sun shell as the weakest link in the 4L60E transmission) figuring it out successfully is often time-consuming. Even though this transmission features diagnostic code output, it often requires a full teardown to locate the offending part. This involved process can boost the cost of repairs up into the thousands of dollars.
While it can take time and money, 4L60E transmission repair is not always a sad story for vehicle owners. Because this transmission is so common, lots of mechanics are intimately familiar with its strengths and weaknesses. Parts are easy to find and replace, and complete documentation makes it possible to locate and resolve virtually any problem with a 4L60E transmission.