4L60E vs 4L80E: The Performance Transmission Comparison Guide

If you want to buy a new truck and upgrade your transmission, you probably wish to get a transmission with the best possible performance. Of these transmissions, the 4L60 and 4L80E do stand out as some of the best.

You might, however, be confused as to which transmission has the best performance. This article will compare the two most popular performance transmissions available on the market today: 4L60E vs. 4L80E.

About Performance Transmission: The overview of 4L60E and 4L80E

Transmissions are like the link between the wheels and the engine in a vehicle. That makes them essential components for a car because a vehicle wouldn’t move without them.

That’s because they adjust the gear ratio between the wheels and the engine. Besides that, transmissions also play a significant role in preventing wear and tear in the engine.

They do that by ensuring the engine moves at a slower pace even as the car moves at consistent speeds. When the vehicle stops, the transmissions then cut the connection between the drive wheels and engine and enable it to cool or stay idle.

Now, of these transmissions are two famous ones: the 4L60E and 4lL80E. The 4L60E and 4L80 E are car transmissions manufactured by General Motors to relay power from the engine to the wheels.

Even if you’re a gearhead who knows much about transmissions, you will naturally be curious about 4L60E and the 4L80E transmissions. What is it that makes them so different from each other?

Although they perform the same functions, there are some differences between them. You will find the 4L80E typically used in diesel cars and big blocks. The 4L60E, on the other hand, is more common in rear-wheel cars.

The fundamental similarity is that they are both common in General Motors-made cars.

Let’s delve into what makes them different from each other

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4L60E Vs. 4L80E: How Different Are They From Each Other?

4L60E and 4L80E are both transmissions, although they vary in specific aspects.

Before we proceed, did you know that each of the letters or numbers in the names of the transmissions stands for something? The four (4) in the transmissions model number means four gears for starters.

The E means that the transmissions only work with electricity. The L, on the other hand, refers to their longitudinal orientation. When you get to the numbers is where the difference starts showing.

The 4L80E supports a Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8000 pounds. The GVWR is the maximum weight or mass of the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s specifications.4L60E will therefore support a GVWR of 60000 pounds.

Now let’s get to the differences between the two transmissions.

They Vary in Size and Weight

We know that the 4L80E can support a larger GVWR than the 4L60E. Perhaps that is because it is considerably larger than the 4L60E. It is about 3 inches longer than the 4L60E at 26.5 inches and weighs 236lbs.

We can attribute the difference in the size to the large build of the 4L80e compared to the 4l60e. The 4l60E weighs about 150 lbs. without the transmission’s fluid. Unless you add differing amounts of fluid to each, the difference in size and weight will hold.

Related: Ford 4r100 Transmission Problems

The 4L80E is More Powerful

Since the 4L80E can support cars with a higher maximum operating mass, it is safe to say it is the more powerful of the two. The 8000GVWR the 4L80E can support dwarfs that of the 4L60E’s 6000 GVWR.

Therefore, if you have a vehicle that will do heavy-duty work, such as towing broken-down trucks or racing, the 4L80E is your best bet. Such cars usually have powerful engines that can match the strengthening of the 4l80E.

If you insist on using the 4l60E in these vehicles, they will only wear down the transmission. That, however, isn’t to say the 4L60E won’t work in such trucks. It will work, but it might not be as perfect as its more powerful counterpart.

Differing Gear Ratios

This is another notable difference between the two transmissions. They both use differing gear ratios, which is further testament that you can’t interchange them in a specific vehicle engine without understanding these ratios.

Below are the gear ratios for each of them.

For 4L60E:

  • 1: 3.059
  • 2: 1.625
  • 3: 1.00
  • 4: 0.696
  • R: 2.294

For 4L80E:

  • 1: 2.482
  • 2: 1.482
  • 3: 1.00
  • 4: 0.750
  • R: 2.077

They Have Different Origins

The model numbers 4L60E and 4L80E might be similar, but that doesn’t mean they have the exact origin. They couldn’t be any different in the times and reasons for manufacture.

The Turbo 400 preceded the 4l80e. It was perfect for hot rodding applications and drag racing. 4L80E varies from the Turbo in that it is an electronic overdrive transmission.

Conversely, the 4L60 E succeeded the 700R4. 700R4 was a widespread transmission that was in use from 1982General Motors and Chevrolet vehicles. Unlike the 4L60E, the 700R4 isn’t an electric transmission.

As you can see, both the transmissions vary in their origin despite the similarity in the model numbers.

Their Appearance Isn’t the Same

An onlooker would quickly tell the 4l80e apart from the 4l60e because of their marked structural differences. The first key difference is in the shape of the pans that hold the transmission fluid. While the 4L60E’s pan is rectangular, the 4l80E is oval-shaped.

Furthermore, you will also immediately notice more bolts on the 4L80E than on the 4l60E. 4L80E will understandably require more bolts (17) because it is more significant sized compared to 16 for 4l60E.

Transmission Differences

One of the fundamental differences between the two transmissions is their ability. While the 4L80E will support cars with a GVWR of 8000 pounds, the 4L60E will only support 6000 pounds.

The Price

By now, you should have already established that the more powerful of the two transmissions is the 4L80E. It can work for powerful vehicles such as towing vehicles or high endurance cars with powerful engines.

Therefore, it is unsurprising that it is the more expensive of the two. If you’re looking for a transmission that can work with engines with exceptional horsepower, then you’ll have to cough up more money and get the 4L80E.

But the powerful nature isn’t the only thing that makes the 4L80E that expensive. It is also quite hard to find compared to the 4L60E. You can’t easily find parts of the 4L80E in much the same way you can find the 4L60E.

So common is the 4L60E that you could find some parts at a junkyard or buy them online. If you need the more resilient 4L80E, you will need to look harder.

Differences In the Controller, Wiring Harness and Sensors

With the 4L80E, the speed sensors are much different from the 4l60E. 4L60E doesn’t have the same two-speed sensors you can typically find in the former. That’s why if you plan to swap the two, then you’ll need to get a control unit or a harness.

That’s also because they have different controllers and wiring harnesses.

Here is a table of the differences and similarities between the two transmissions. The table will give you a quick review of what makes the two transmissions different or similar.L8

4L80E

  • Price: It is more expensive since its more powerful
  • Length: It is longer at 26.5 inches
  • Transmission Power: Can support strongervehicles such as towing trucks and at faster speeds with heavy loads
  • Date of Manufacture: 1991
  • Maximum GVWR: 8000 pounds
  • Sensors: 2-speed sensors
  • Build Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: It is heavier thanks to the heftier build
  • Type: Four-Speed Automatic Overdrive
  • Gear Ratios:
    01:02.5
    02:01.5
    03:01.0
    04:00.8
    R: 2.077
  • Maximum Torque: 450nm +/-
  • Fluid: Dexron IV
  • Bolts: 17
  • Previous name: TH400
  • Fluid Capacity in Quarts: 13.5
  • Control: Electrical

4L60E

  • Price: Less pricy than its counterpart
  • Length: Shorter at 23 inches
  • Transmission Power: Supports smaller vehicles
  • Date of Manufacture: 1993
  • Maximum GVWR: 6000 pounds
  • Sensors: None two-speed sensors
  • Build Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: It is less bulky and thus lighter than the 4L80E.
  • Type: Four-Speed Automatic Overdrive
  • Gear Ratios:
    01:03.1
    02:01.6
    03:01.0
    04:00.7
    R: 2.294
  • Maximum Torque: 350nm +/-
  • Fluid: Dexron IV
  • Bolts: 16
  • Previous name:
    TH350
    700R4
  • Fluid Capacity in Quarts: 11
  • Control: Electrical

How Similar Are They?

Now that we have looked at the differences, let’s look at how similar the two are.

Designer and Function

General Motors designed both the transmissions, although they function in essentially the same way. They are both transmissions that link the wheels of a vehicle to the engine.

The Build Material

They are both vehicle transmissions, so we expect them to be of the same material. They both contain aluminum as the build material.

Control

They are both electronically controlled. That means they depart from the previous manual transmissions that don’t rely on electricity to function.

All in all, both the 4L60E and 4L80E transmissions have a very similar design. For the most part, even an inexperienced technician can service and repair both models without too much trouble.

Can You Interchange Them?

Knowing the difference between 4L60E and 4L80E may be in your best interest, especially when it comes to upgrading or repairing your transmission. But then, can you interchange them?

Yes, you can. If your vehicle has a 4L60E transmission, you can shift to the more powerful 4L80E and boost its performance. The 4L80E, with its impressive maximum torque rating, would increase performance and durability.

Related: How to fix transmission shifts hard when warm

Although slightly heavier than the 4l60E, it would perform admirably better. Some people might want to improve the 4L60E in a term they call “bulletproofing.”However, such efforts often prove futile because they don’t make the transmission any better than the 4L80E.

Sure, it might improve the performance slightly, but you’re better off swapping it for the 4L80E. Of course, if your preference is to continue using the 4L60E, then you’re free to continue using it.

Also, you don’t need to change a thing unless your vehicle is gearing up for some heavy-duty work. If you want to tow with your truck and don’t have the 4L80E, you’re better off swapping the 4L60E out.

The swapping form 4L60e will cost you a pretty penny in the form of parts to buy. First, you will need to purchase the transmission itself, which might be expensive. Next, you will have to purchase other conversion components and the front driveshaft.

After arranging all, you need you will also need to get some much-needed labor. The swapping process isn’t a one-person job, and you will need all the help you can get. There’s a kit you can purchase for the DIYers to help make the swapping easier for you.

For the average enthusiast driver, there may be no real reason to upgrade to the 4L80E. The standard 4L60E offers more than enough durability and power for your average weekend warrior. And if you don’t need the extra torque capacity of the 4L80E, then it probably doesn’t make sense to upgrade over the standard 4L60E.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Which transmission is better? 4L80E or 4L60E?
    The 4L80E packs more power, is heavier, and can work for heavy-duty vehicles such as tow trucks. That makes it by far the better of the two. That, however, doesn’t make the 4L60E is a bad transmission.
    It only means that although it is decent, it isn’t as good as the 4L80E. That’s why you’ll find most people swapping the 4L60E with the 4L80E.
  2. Do 4L60E and 4L80E use the same type of transmission fluid?
    Yes, they do. They both use Dexron IV. The only difference is in the size and shape of the fluid pan that’s oval in the 4L80E and rectangular in the 4L60E.

Final Thoughts

We hope you found this article helpful on the differences between 4L60E and 4L80E. Choosing between these two transmissions can be difficult for anyone driving vehicles with GM engines. s

Whichever you choose, there are plenty of aftermarket parts to help you improve the longevity of your transmission. If you’re shopping for parts or looking for an upgrade, use this guide and any additional research you can do yourself to make the best decision!

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