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Found in a number of General Motors trucks, vans, and SUVs, the 4L60E transmission is the product of choice for these vehicles. Introduced in 1992, this was a replacement to the 700R4, also known as the 4L60.
While these two were generally similar in most aspects, there is one major change of upgrading from hydraulic control to electronic. Some popular cars that this transmission can be found in include the Chevrolet Corvette, Camaro, Caprice, and the Impala.
Manufacturer: General Motors
Torque Converter Lock: Yes
Production: 1992 - Present
Type: 4 Speed Longitudinal Automatic
RPO Code: M30Gear Ratios:
• First- 3.06
• Second- 1.62
• Third- 1.00
• Fourth- 0.70
Overall Length: 21.9 inches
Maximum Torque: 360 pounds per foot
Outer Case Material: Aluminum
Input Shaft: 298 mm
Weight: 146 lbs (dry)
All of this and more will be more thoroughly explained as we progress through these specifications.
The 4 stands for 4 speed in the car, the L is for Longitudinal (for rear wheel drive) and the 60 is the torque capacity of the vehicle. The maximum torque that the transmission is designed to handle is 360 pounds per foot. The gross vehicle weight of these transmissions is 6000 pounds, although can be as heavy as 8600 pounds on the trucks.
As mentioned before, the E on this newer model means it has made the shift to electronic control over hydraulics. If the E is not seen, that is because since the majority of these transmissions are electronically controlled and GM does not need to add this on. The length of these transmissions is 21.9 inches long and weigh 146 pounds, when dry. The transmission itself is made from a cast aluminum material with a two removable bellhousing.
The gear ratio is the relationship between the number of turns made by a driving gear to complete one full turn of said gear. On the 4L60E, for first gear, the ratio is 3.06, second is 1.62, third is listed as 1 even, and fourth is 0.7. Reverse, meanwhile is set at 2.29. The 3.06 gear provides the best performance at low speeds while the top gear of 0.7 is best for fuel economy in overdrive. The higher the RPM the car runs at, the higher the gear ratio will be, with first gear being the lowest at 41.5 at 6500 RPM and reverse having the largest, capping at 181.5 at the same RPM.
For a 4L60E with a stock pan, the transmission would need six quarts of fluid to maintain optimal performance. For the torque converter, the amount needed would depend on the size of the converter itself. Since the converter for the 4L60E is 10 inches, then the amount of fluid needed would be 3 quarts.
The input shaft for the transmission can be found inside the stator, near the back, and is 298 millimeters in length, which would be around a foot long. This is responsible for transmitting power from the clutch to the gearbox. When the clutch is engaged, power goes from the engine to the input shaft. This differs from the output shaft in that it delivers power into a mechanism rather from within.
The function of the torque converter is converting hydraulic pressure in the transmission to mechanical torque. This drives the drive shafts and, through another process, the wheels themselves. The 4L60E comes equipped with a lock-up clutch built in to prevent slipping losses in the vehicle. In a stock converter, the stall speed comes in at 1400 rpm, though this can vary depending on factors such as engine torque, vehicle weight, tire height, and transmission gear ratio and can get as high as 2200.
This can be measured through the “stall torque ratio” or STR for short. This reflects how tightly coupled the fins in the converter are. The higher the number, the looser the converter is, meaning the engine will need more rev in order to accelerate the car. This gives more torque but the drive will feel sloppier overall and the throttle response will suffer as well. More vehicle weight, engine torque, and taller tires will give more STR while more rear axle and gear ratio, along with first gear, will produce lower results.
The 4L60E does have the overdrive feature to it. This is a unit with planetary gearset which turns the driveshaft faster than the output shaft. Normally, the final gear ratio is 11, but with overdrive, this number is lowered. This can reduce gas consumption at sustained high speeds, engine noise, as well as engine wear. This makes for better fuel economy in the car and helps overall performance in the vehicle.
The RPO Code is an abbreviation for regular production operation. What this means is the options installed at the factory, rather than any options installed by a dealer. For the 4L60E, the standard code is M30. If the numbers on a code come first, then that is for exterior color of the car, trim combination, the color of the cloth of the interior seating, etc. If the letter is first, then this is generally for more mechanical aspects such as the engine, the gear ratios of various cars, or, in this case, the transmission the car holds.
Ever since the 4L60E was launched, 25 years ago this year, there have been plenty of upgrades to make sure this transmission kept its place as GM’s premiere product. Some of the earliest models had a 6-vane pump, though there were issues with the durability, so to compensate for this flaw, 10 and 13-vane pumps were introduced to the line and were even able to be added to the aforementioned earlier models so buyers were not forced to replace their whole transmissions for the new change, a magnificent addition to the 4L60E product for all consumers to enjoy. One other problem that GM came across was some issues with the transfer cases. This was put to rights in 1996 with the introduction of a removable bell housing, allowing a balance of flexing and weight on the transmission. A final improvement to the 4L60E was a 300 millimeter torque converter, also rounded out with complementary 300 millimeter pumps and input shafts to go along with the converters. With all of these upgrades to the 4L60E, GM had added a more solid and reliable product to their already impressive line. While the 4L60E was a good transmission, these changes helped immensely.