The 4L60E transmission is a worthy unit, capable of withstanding the tortures of street/strip abuse as long as it has been outfitted with a few high-performance goodies The 4L60E transmission is a worthy unit, capable of withstanding the tortures of street/st 'The 700-R4 has long been a mainstay in the General's arsenal of late-model automatic overdrive transmissions. In 1993, OBD-II brought electronic controls and the introduction of the 4L60E. At the same time the 700-R4 was renamed the 4L60. Although the two transmissions have a similar name and share cases and some parts, they are different. In 2001, the 4L60E became the 4L65E when GM upgraded some key internal parts that were failing behind the increasingly powerful Gen III powerplant. The improved transmission utilized a stronger five-pinion rear planetary and a hardened input shaft and sun shell that increased its torque capacity to 380 lb-ft. The nice thing about all of this is that the modern parts are easily swapped into the 4L60E, leaving you with the ability to upgrade your existing tranny without having to buy a new unit. Transmission rebuilding requires specialized tools that are not found in your average toolbox. Shown here are just a few of those needed to work on the 4L60E. From top, left to right: Cotter key pick, Teflon shaft installer, rear clutch spring compressor, universal pump remover, electrical connection removal tool (a large socket will work but usually breaks a tab) and two snap-ring pliers. Not pictured are the front pump alignment band and turbine shaft installer. This might be an expensive do-it-yourself project. Transmission rebuilding requires specialized tools that are not found in your average tool Since the upgrade requires a complete teardown, a full rebuild with some extra performance pieces is a good idea. We used a Trans-Go reprogramming kit, a Sonnax billet Fourth gear Super Hold servo, a Raybestos Z-Pack clutch kit, and Red Eagle red oxide clutches. We cherry-picked the clutch kit, using the Z-pack for the 3-4 clutches. These are specifically designed to not bow and to have superior holding power. The red oxide clutches have better hold for 1-2. This is not the most difficult tranny to build, but it is certainly not the easiest. And there are a few specialized tools needed to correctly complete the job. To get an expert's assistance we went to Tony Straughn of Budget Transmission in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The total package including labor priced out at about $1,300, not including the torque converter. We used an ATI High-Stall Street Master lockup converter, which had a pretty hefty price tag of $640. The five-pinion planetary carrier (right) increases the transmission's rated capacity to 380 lb-ft. That is a substantial improvement over the four-pinion carrier (left). The five-pinion planetary carrier (right) increases the transmission's rated capacity to 3 Upgrading to the 4L65E is advisable in towing applications and where horsepower numbers are up to 500. The 4L60E also uses a four-pinion front planetary carrier, which is more expensive than the rear unit. For cars making over that number, there is a front planetary upgrade as well. Our '96 Impala makes just under 500, so we upgraded the rear planetary only. After the upgrade, the car has a nice, snappy shift under part-throttle, and the full-throttle shifts are supersharp, much better than the stock slush box and more reliable, too. PARTS LIST DESCRIPTION PART NUMBER SOURCE PRICE Trans-Go reprogrammer 4L60E-HD2-C WIT $139.99 Sonnax billet servo 77767K WIT 49.99 Red Eagle rebuild Kit WIT 280.00 Raybestos Z-pack RZP-001 WIT 59.99 Beast sun shell Budget Transmission 39.99 Five-pinion carrier Budget Transmission 69.99 High-intensity band Budget Transmission 24.99 ATI torque converter 708220 ATI Performance 640.99 Labor Budget Transmission 650.00 Total: $1,955.93 If you want to find a 4L60E in the wrecking yard and upgrade it to 4L65E specs, find one that was built after 1995, when GM converted the 4L60E converter lockup circuit to a pulse-width-modulated circuit. This type of lockup circuit offers a smoother transition, as it pulses the signal instead of jolting the driver with a sudden converter lock. These transmissions will be marked with "PWM" on the front of the pump. The important thing to remember here is that whatever the type, PWM or non-PWM, it must match the computer in the car; otherwise it will not function properly. If you want to find a 4L60E in the wrecking yard and upgrade it to 4L65E specs, find one t The pump pressure relief is the number one cause of failure after overhaul. It is very easy to forget to clean this little ball and spring, and it tends to get gummy and start to stick. Even going a few miles down the road can cause a failure, because the converter can't release its pressure, leading to overheating. The pump pressure relief is the number one cause of failure after overhaul. It is very eas The stock sun shell (left) has a tendency to crack and then shear off the gear at the neck in high-performance applications. The Beast sun gear (right) is made of thicker material and is particularly beefy where the problems occur. The Beast also comes with a new Torrington thrust bearing. The stock sun shell (left) has a tendency to crack and then shear off the gear at the neck With the First and Reverse clutches installed, Straughn suggests using a block saver. This $6 clip keeps the low/Reverse overrunning clutch from rotating and breaking the case. With the First and Reverse clutches installed, Straughn suggests using a block saver. This Cleanliness is a virtue, especially when it comes to transmissions. The case for the 4L60E was washed for a few hours in a hot bath. Since hot tanks have pretty much been outlawed by the EPA, 250-degree water and soap had to do. Cleanliness is a virtue, especially when it comes to transmissions. The case for the 4L60E The clutches were soaked in a bucket of Dexron III before being installed in the tranny. Forget this step and you may as well throw it all away. The clutches were soaked in a bucket of Dexron III before being installed in the tranny. F The high-intensity band was installed after the drum was dropped in. It took a little massaging to get the band to snap in place. For the 2-4 band, Straughn suggests using a late-model high-intensity band over a wide band. The wide band has little more hold, but the high-intensity band grabs and releases faster, which is more important in a high-performance application. The wide band is better suited for towing or in cases where the drum is worn in the center and replacement is cost-prohibitive.The servo pin was checked for clearance and was in spec, so the washer was installed. The high-intensity band was installed after the drum was dropped in. It took a little mass The Z-pack clutches were installed in the drum and checked for clearance. The clutches should be stacked in this order: friction clutch, steel clutch, friction clutch, and so on. The final clutch is the brown clutch. The clutches have been stacked correctly when the brown clutch is even with the snap-ring groove. Then the five anticentrifugal rev springs are installed, followed by the pressure plate and another snap ring. The Z-pack clutches were installed in the drum and checked for clearance. The clutches sho The Sonnax servo was installed with a snap ring to hold it in place. This unique piece offers 40 percent more surface area for better holding power in Fourth gear. This helps eliminate band failure in high-performance applications. It is simple to install with only a set of snap-ring pliers required. Just be sure to use the supplied steel washer. There is some adjustment to be made here, though: The typical travel of the servo pin is 0.125 inch; if it is greater than that, the pin should be changed or carefully ground down to achieve the desired travel. The Sonnax servo was installed with a snap ring to hold it in place. This unique piece off The pump assembly received a new main pressure regulator and boost valve, which came with the Trans-Go reprogramming kit. The separator plate rests between the transmission case and the valvebody, and has 10 holes that require additional drilling. These are the pressure-apply and relief ports. Opening these up to 0.093 inch increases shift firmness and adjusts the timing of each shift. Straughn also suggests drilling out the solenoid A and B ports to 0.040 inch. He has found that this slightly increases shift time, which makes for a nice shift pattern on the street. The pump assembly received a new main pressure regulator and boost valve, which came with With a 3M coarse surfacing pad, the entire outer surface of the drum was cleaned of any glazing. The drum must be flat and smooth. If the surface is concave, it should be replaced. This drum was in good shape so it did not need replacement. With a 3M coarse surfacing pad, the entire outer surface of the drum was cleaned of any gl The servo pin was checked for clearence and was in spec so the washer was installed A new filter and cork gasket finished off the internals of the build. Straughn says to never use silicone sealant on a tranny pan; there are several small ports on the gasket rail that will get plugged if silicone is used, which will smoke the transmission. A new filter and cork gasket finished off the internals of the build. Straughn says to nev The second gear accumulator body was modified with the springs supplied in the Trans-Go kit. Using two springs gives the trans a very firm shift; using all three is for full-race applications only and will probably be too harsh for the street. We used two for the Impala. The second gear accumulator body was modified with the springs supplied in the Trans-Go ki After the shift kit was installed, the valvebody was bolted down to the case and the electrical plugs were once again connected. After the shift kit was installed, the valvebody was bolted down to the case and the elect The final step was installing the new rear seal. Brass hammers are a must when dealing with a transmission; breaking stuff sucks. end The final step was installing the new rear seal. Brass hammers are a must when dealing wit SOURCES ATI Performance Products 800-284-3433 www.atiperformanceproducts.com Whatever It Takes Transmission Parts (WIT) Louisville KY Budget Transmission Stillwater OK By Jefferson Bryant Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!