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4l60e Rebuild Project Buy or DIY. Help from the Masters.
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Post 4l60e Rebuild Project Buy or DIY. Help from the Masters. 
Fellas,

I am just a young Jedi in search of advice.

I have a 1997 Chevy Suburban K1500 4x4 5.7ltr.
She is having some transmission problems that I mentioned in another post, but for ease of reading I will tell again.
I drove my truck to the gas station the other day and on the way back (2 miles) the truck surged hard two times. I got it back to my driveway and noticed that the trans was whinning and it seemed like it would not shift past 1st gear. I parked it and found that when I put it in reverse it acted like it was in neutral and would not move. I can hear a whine in the trans. I checked the fluid level and found it to be fine and nice and red. No lights no codes, nothing leaking.

The truck has 130k on the original 4L60E (I think). SO... should I have it rebuilt? Should I do it myself? Or should I replace it with a rebuilt one?
If I do have it rebuilt or replaced what components should I look for in the new trans. I have searched ebay and different sellers throw around names like Sonnex and Corvette Servos, etc. They rate their trans. at 500hp and such.

I just want a trans that will last another 130k without any problems and maybe a little more performance will be down the road when the tired 5.7 comes out.

Thanks guys,
Ken

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Any help out there? I know we have a tranny expert on board.

Thanks,
Ken

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James is the trany expert you are searching for............however I can tell you (as he would also) that you
would be much better off with a 4L85E. I'm not sure of the complications of having a transfer case ??

GM Performance Parts 4L85-E four speed PN: 19156258 $2500

If you pay someone to rebuild it it's gunna be 1500 to 2000 anyway why not have a much better
transmission??

C ya
-Justin

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Thanks L31.

I have done some research since I posted this and I think that me rebuilding it is not a good idea. I am somewhat mechanically inclined but I do not have the area to work on it in my garage.
So... Looks like I will be shopping for a rebuild. What should I look for in the replacement parts that were used>?

Thanks,
Ken

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I am no fan of the 4L60/65/70-E, but I'd have to say that for a stock application it would be best to stick with a stock type transmission. Swapping out the a 4L80-E or 4L85-E requires a lot of investment and changes to many things. To name a few:
- Crossmember
- Torque converter
- Front driveshaft lengthening (replacement)
- Rear driveshaft shortening
- Cooler lines
- Exhaust crossover (Y-pipe)
- Transfer case adapter
- Transfer case input shaft
- Modification to wiring harness
- Reprogramming of PCM to L31/MT1 combo and then tuning

On the surface a 4L80/85-E swap looks like an economical swap for a stock engine, but in reality you're looking at about $5000 including the price of the tuning hardware and software. If the engine was making a lot of power I'd be suggesting the swap, but for a stock 350 it's not worth it.

So, what it comes down to is how you far you want to go to have yours rebuilt. I do suggest rebuilding your existing transmission, you know its complete history and you know it's the correct one for your truck. A 4L65-E complete is not an option for you. All 4L65-E and 4L70-E transmissions are built with Gen-III/IV input shafts and bellhousings, you need the classic SBC/BBC input shaft and bell. This is an opportunity to add a few better-than-stock parts. For example, there is a fellow selling "The Beast" sunshells on EBay for $52 with free shipping. This is a common failure in 60's resulting in loss of reverse, second, and fourth. The aftermarket one is beefed up in the critical hub area to prevent the failure. Both 5-pinion planetaries from the 65-E are available and are a direct drop-in replacement for the standard 4L60-E 4-pinion units. There are many different clutch materials available for the friction plates depending on what duty you have intended for the transmission. A good shop will work with you on some of these upgrades and help keep the costs under control as well.



Last edited by James B. on Sat Dec 29, 2007 2:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Awsome... Thanks for the info James. That was the kind of answer that I was looking for. Wink

Does anyone know of a good transmission shop in Maryland?

There are a lot of them on ebay but I have no clue who to trust on there.

Thanks again,
Ken

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Not who to go to, but who to avoid. Art Carr transmissions is not a good place for rebuilds, I bought one of theirs rated to handle 600HP, couldn't stand behind a stock L31 in a 2 door 2WD Tahoe. Another to avoid is PATC, who a former board member was screwed over by. I understand their parts are OK, but their rebuilds suck. Heard good things about Level 10 transmissions and I think they are in the northeast, but I've not used them myself.

I also disagree a bit with James on the 4L80 for a stock engine, if you are changing transmissions anyway I think it would be worthwhile in the long run if you do any kind of towing or are a spirited driver, with a stock engine. If you drive like Grandpa Leftlane then a stock 4L60 would do the trick, but not if you put any stress on the driveline.

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Post Stick with James reply 
If it lasted you 130,000 miles stock then a beefed up 4L65/70E type rebuild with the beast sunshell should hold up to another 130,000 miles stock to minor mods.
Look for a shop with an ATSG or ATRA membership, and talk to coworkers, friends, and other general repair shops.

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Speeder you suggest the 4l80. Will that be a direct replacement even though my truck is a k1500 with the 5.7. I have to keep the 4x4 option as well.

Also, I don't tow much but I do drive like a raped ape sometimes and I have been known to put a ton of wood pellets in the back of the thing now and then.

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Deputydawg wrote:
...you suggest the 4l80. Will that be a direct replacement...

No! Complicated and expensive, but it is POSSIBLE.

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Sad state that I am in.

James,
Your truck was orginally like mine right? 5.7?
Is the 4 wheel drive the part that makes it a pain in the arse for the swaps?

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James B. wrote:
I am no fan of the 4L60/65/70-E, but I'd have to say that for a stock application it would be best to stick with a stock type transmission. Swapping out the a 4L80-E or 4L85-E requires a lot of investment and changes to many things. To name a few:
- Crossmember
- Torque converter
- Front driveshaft lengthening (replacement)
- Rear driveshaft shortening
- Cooler lines
- Exhaust crossover (Y-pipe)
- Transfer case adapter
- Transfer case input shaft
- Modification to wiring harness
- Reprogramming of PCM to L31/MT1 combo and then tuning

On the surface a 4L80/85-E swap looks like an economical swap for a stock engine, but in reality you're looking at about $5000 including the price of the tuning hardware and software. If the engine was making a lot of power I'd be suggesting the swap, but for a stock 350 it's not worth it.

Explanation already provided. Does anything in that list look simple or inexpensive? There is no part of that list you can skip if you want a 4L80-E.

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Deputydawg wrote:
...James, Your truck was orginally like mine right? 5.7?

Yes, it originally came with a Vortec 350 (L31), a 4L60-E (M30), and a 10-bolt rear end with locking differential (G80) and 3.73:1 gears (GT4). None of that is left.

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That is the downfall of the conversion, it's not a bolt-in and likely not a weekend job. On the other hand, others have already mapped the waters, so to speak, so we know what needs to be done and what parts are needed rather than having to take it a step at a time and see what it needs as you go. You'll just have to balance whether the effort will be worth it to you. On the 4x4 issue, just need to try and land a 4x4 4L80E right off the bat, would save the time and expense of converting a 2WD trans to a 4WD trans, which involves changing the output shaft and installing the correct transfer case.

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Speeder wrote:
On the 4x4 issue, just need to try and land a 4x4 4L80E right off the bat, would save the time and expense of converting a 2WD trans to a 4WD trans, which involves changing the output shaft and installing the correct transfer case.


+2 Smile
Saying "changing the output shaft" sounds like a snap right? Well its not to bad but you have to disassemble the entire trans since the output shaft is the first thing to go in the transmission case and the last thing to come out from what I remember.

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x3

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Post Parts Needed 
Alright guys,

I bought the 4l60e rebuild dvd off of Ebay. Now in an earlier post James mentioned that I should replace some of the parts with upgraded items.
Besides the following what else should I replace?
Beast Sunshell
5 pinion Front and Rear Planetaries

Over the life of the truck I don't plan on towing anything other than a small trailer (maybe once a year if that).

What torque converter should I get?
Should I replace the transmission cooler?

Thanks for the help I only want to make this a one time job.
Ken

PS the new truck with the 8.1 is not going to fly Sad Finances took a turn on me.

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Howard,

I just got done reading your swap from the 60 to the 80. Nice job with the fab work and pictures. Took me an hour to get through that. LOL
Your post did start to sway me back to the 80 idea but James' earlier post in this thread put me back on track. I did go to the link in your thread that had the swap kit and I again got excited. BUT I soon found out that my 1997 would require a $1,000.00 Compushift computer to make the 80 work. BAH! That ontop of the $700 kit plus a tranny and BAM I would be at that magic $5000 mark that James stated.
Then James appeared like OBI WAN and said just rebuild the 60 Ken. Drive it for a few more years then dump it.........

Anyway,
I would like a complete list of rebuild parts for my trans. I plan on doing this myself. Hey I gotta try can't be no harder than Legos.

Thanks guys,
Ken

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Post Transmission Rebuild 
I am not sure if you have already started to tear the trans apart, but I know of a great trans builder within an hour of you. His name is Frank Cahall and he is located off of 95 just over the MD/DE state line in Deleware (literally he is the first exit off of 95 once you cross over into Deleware). A friend of mine had him build a 4L60E that was in his 96 Trans Am a few years ago and it held up great to all sorts of abuse. He had a trans cooler line rupture on him twice and lost several quarts of fluid both times, we sparayed the car with a 150 wet shot of nitrous and sprayed through the shifts which is HELL on a transmission, we also hot lapped the car through an enitre 10 lb bottle of nitrous with no problems. The only reason that it finally gave out is the shop that he had put a new motor in it messed up the trans. I was happy enough with it that I bought the old trans after it blew up and just took it up to him last weekend to have it refreshed to go in the 97 Trans Am that I bought last year. His current turn around time is about 2 weeks. I am in no way associated with him other than he is currently building my trans, so I am not trying to steer you to him for any sort of financial gain. He will talk with you and find out what your intentions are for the trans and what vehicle it will be going in and taylor the build to your budget and needs. His phone number is 302-250-1202. Give him a call and let him know that Tim with the 1997 Trans Am who's transmission he currently is refreshing and upgrading to pro race sent you. Lots of luck!

Tim

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Thanks Tim,
I have not yet started the project only trying to get a list of parts that I will need. Once I view the DVD for the rebuild I will make my final decision on doing it myself or not.
I will check him out if I can't do it myself. Thanks for the info. and let me know how yours turns out. I work just south of the MD/DE line and no one in my area recommends anyone. They try to push the jasper down your throat or get a gm replacement. Both may be good but I want better. Smile
Ken

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