You might be interested in upgrading the transmission in your GM truck or SUV. Many people wonder about the 4L60E vs. 4L80E transmission differences and if these two can be used interchangeably. While there are several similarities, there are far more differences.
In this guide, we will evaluate both transmissions and show you the differences. Plus, we talk about how the two can be swapped.
4L60E vs 4L80E Specifications
|Type||4 Speed Automatic|
|4 Speed Automatic
|Applications||GM Cars - GMC, Chevy/Chevrolet, Buick||GM Cars - GMC, Chevy/Chevrolet, Buick|
|Gears||3 + 1 Overdrive 30%||3 + 1 Overdrive 30%|
|Weight||150 lbs dry~||236 lbs dry~|
|Gear Ratios||1: 3.059|
|Fluid Capacity||11 Quarts||13.5 Quarts|
|Fluid Type||DEXRON VI||DEXRON VI|
|Max Torque||350nm +/-||450nm +/-|
|Pan Gasket/Bolt Pattern||16 bolt ||17 bolt
|Name Before||TH350 |
4L60E vs. 4L80E Transmission Differences
The main differences between the 4L60E and the 4L80E transmission are the weight and size. Additionally, the power and torque specifications are different, along with the price, gear ratios, and electronic configuration.
Here is a more detailed list of the difference between the 4L60E and the 4L80E transmissions:
With the model names so similar, you might think that these two automatic transmissions are similar, but they are actually quite different. The 4L60E is an electronic transmission that comes from the 700R4. It was used in many GMC and Chevy vehicles, starting with the 1982 model year.
The 4L80E is the electronic overdrive transmission that came from the TH400 lineup. It’s a model that was designed for high-performance functions, from towing and hauling to hot rodding.
At first glance, the two transmissions might look similar, but a closer look reveals the differences. The 4L80E contains a pan that is oval, while the 4L60E has one that is shaped like a rectangle.
The number of bolts that both contain is also different. There is one gasket with 17 bolts on 4L80E models, while the 4L60E pan contains 16.
Because of the application, the 4L80E is much heavier and larger than the other transmission. It features a length of 26.4 inches and weighs 236 pounds.
On the other hand, the 4L60E weighs just 150 pounds without any fluid. It is also only about 23.5 inches long.
The 4L80E offers more power than the 4L60E. That’s why it is paired with configurations that have a more powerful engine.
The maximum amount of torque handled by the 4L80E is 440 pound-feet. In comparison, the 4L60E can only handle up to 360 pound-feet of torque.
You can expect that the 4L80E is going to be more expensive because of the construction and amount of power it handles. It’s a great option if you have a heavy truck or need to push out maximum speeds.
However, if you are opting for something more budget-friendly, you want to consider the 4L60E instead. It’s going to have a lower price overall.
On average, you can expect to spend a little more than $2,000 for a 4L80E transmission. On the other hand, the 4L60E might only cost $1,500. Aside from the upfront cost, you must also factor in all of the expenses to make the new transmission compatible with your vehicle. We discuss these upgrades in more detail later in the article.
6. Gear Ratios
You must know the various gear ratios if you plan to swap the transmissions. Here’s what’s found with the 4L60E:
- 1: 3.059
- 2: 1.625
- 3: 1.00
- 4: 0.696
- R: 2.294
On the other hand, the 4L80E gear ratios are:
- 1: 2.482
- 2: 1.482
- 3: 1.00
- 4: 0.750
- R: 2.077
You can’t plug and play the two transmissions with each other, mainly because of the different electronics. They are incompatible with one another the way that they are.
For example, the 4L80E contains two-speed sensors, while the 4L60E has one. Other sensors, wiring harnesses and electronic equipment can also be different.
What is the 4L60E Transmission?
The 4L60E automatic transmission contains a high gear ratio. It also provides a lot of torque in the first gear. Everything inside the transmission is made from aluminum alloy for a durable design.
It also contains a durable transmission pan, a reliable gear seat, EPC, a 13-vane pump assembly, a high-performance cooler, a hardened stator shaft with rings, and specialized control solenoids. It’s meant to be used with rear-wheel drive and it requires 8.4 quarts of fluid.
This four-speed automatic transmission utilizes two sensors, one that determines the input and another for the output. It’s ideal for SUVs because of its lightweight design.
What is the 4L80E Transmission?
The 4L80E handles a lot more than the previous transmission. It’s designed for the pickup truck with its die-cast aluminum casing. Among 4WD configurations, it has one of the largest 32-line shafts.
This transmission holds 13.5 quarts of fluid. It’s a TH400, but it has 25 percent overdrive included. It was mainly used for ¾- and 1-ton SUVs or trucks, starting with the 1991 model year. It contains an electronic ECU and has undergone a few upgrades throughout the years.
4L60E vs 4L80E Transmission Similarities
There’s no question that the function of the two transmissions is the same. They are both meant to control gears and are used in GM vehicles.
While there are many differences, the function of the two remains the same. As with all transmissions, the engine is linked to the wheels for controlled movement.
2. Electronic Control
The way that both transmissions work is the same. With either model, you get an electronically-controlled GM transmission.
Electronic control transmissions are different from manual transmissions. These require electricity to function correctly.
3. Type of Fluid
With either the 4L60E or 4L80E, you will need the same type of transmission fluid. Both transmissions require Dexron IV to run properly.
However, the amount of fluid needed is different between the two. Additionally, the shape of the fluid pan is different, as previously discussed.
Can You Swap the 4L60E and 4L80E Transmission?
You can interchange the two transmissions, but it’s not an easy swap. In fact, you might need help from a professional technician to get the job done. Among the many things you should pay attention to, consider these vital parts.
1. Transmission Tunnel
You won’t be able to place the bigger transmission in the space of the smaller one. If you take out the 4L60E and try to put in the 4L80E, you must make room for it.
To alter the transmission tunnel, you will need more than just a hammer. A welder will also be necessary.
2. Wiring Harness
We’ve discussed how electronics and sensors are different between the two transmissions. For this reason, you can’t hook the other one up in place of the first. The wiring isn’t just going to plug in and work.
Instead, you need a compatible wiring harness that converts everything over. This is going to cost you some additional money, no matter which way you are swapping out the transmissions. Additionally, if you aren’t familiar with the electronics and sensors, you want a professional to handle the job so nothing gets accidentally fried.
You may find some swap kits on the markets though.
The 4L80E driveshaft isn’t the same length as the 4L60E. You must keep this in mind before you swap out the two. The easiest solution is to purchase a driveshaft of the appropriate length.
If you can’t get what you need, you might need to visit a special shop instead. A qualified technician will be able to create a longer driveshaft or make the existing one shorter.
You can’t swap out the dipsticks of either transmission. Both transmissions hold a different amount of fluid, requiring its own dipstick to work properly.
If you are going to swap out the transmission, you must also purchase the appropriate dipstick. If the transmission doesn’t come with one, you can buy it on Amazon.
5. Torque Converter/Flexplate
You will need a new torque converter or flexplate if you want to swap the transmissions. You might prefer to look for a special adapter kit. These come with the spacer and input shaft needed to work with the specific converter.
If you are purchasing the transmission from a junkyard or rebuilt, it’s easier to get the parts with it. Make sure it comes with everything required to make the swap.
You know that the 4L60E is shorter than the 4L80E. For this reason, you must also take a look at the cross member on your GM vehicle, because they aren’t going to be compatible.
You must modify the cross member to fit the new transmission. If you want, you can purchase the cross member that works with the transmission to make things easier. However, there’s also the option to get someone to weld you a new cross member.
You don’t want to swap out any transmission unless you get the new one to line up perfectly. It must be straight for optimal performance.