Tips and Tricks Removing/Replacing a 4L60E

Discussion in 'How-to Guides' started by PaperEngineer, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. PaperEngineer

    PaperEngineer New Member

    A lot of you have been through this already, so this article probably won’t be of much use. Here is what I gathered from my first experience swapping a 4L60E from my 1995 GMC C1500. You all have the shop manual, so this article is more like tips and tricks I picked up in a short time. If you haven’t done this before, this article should save you about 1 day of time. It took me 3 days, and I have modest mechanical skills. You can probably get your time down to 2 reading this, and maybe 1.5 days if you’ve done this a few times. If you can change your oil and rotate the tires, you can do this. Sorry, but I really did not take any pictures and now wish I had…

    First, your main concern is HEIGHT. That is, how high you can get the truck off the ground. I don’t have a lift, but you can do it with a jack and 4 jackstands. I used a 7,000lb jack with a rated maximum height of 23 inches and 6-ton jackstands with a rated maximum height of 24 inches. On my truck, the frame rail is roughly 11 inches from the ground and the rear axle is slightly lower than that (stock tires and stock suspension). The concern is that my trans did not have a removable bellhousing, and came in right about 19 inches high. My tranny jack took up another 4 inches. Therefore, you’re going to need all the height you can get. Put the front end up in the air a little, then the back, then repeat, repeat, and repeat until you are at the max height. Note, work carefully because I found my jackstands wanting to slide/lean a little more than I was comfortable with each time. When I was done, I had 22 inches in the front and about 26 inches of clearance in the rear. I was able to slide the trans to the rear and remove it just behind the cab without having to remove it from the jack. This saves a lot of headache, like bench pressing 250 lbs of trans onto a jack under the truck…

    Next, use a good quality tranny jack!! I bought a 2,000lb unit that had 4 wheels that turned 360 degrees. It was also very narrow, which will come in handy if you need to place it between the jackstands to remove the trans. Using a good jack, I was able to do this job entirely by myself. It will also save you a lot of time.

    Ok now to the actual tips. Be careful removing the electrical connectors. Several people have had trouble removing the two electrical connectors from the neutral safety switch (they melt on). I did not have this problem, but if you do simply unbolt it and move it out of the way.

    My manual said to remove the lower bellhousing cover but to do that you need to remove the lower crossover exhaust pipe – a real big pain. Instead, remove the oil filter, unbolt the cover, and “work” it to the driver’s side. You will have plenty of clearance to the torque converter bolts, and the cover will be out of the way. I left the cover resting on the crossover pipe with the trans out so it was ready when the new trans got put back in. This trick will save you a lot of time.

    When you rotate the crankshaft to get at all the torque converter bolts, remove the serpentine belt. It takes a lot of effort to turn everything else connected to it for those 3 little bolts.

    The six bolts that hold the trans in also have nuts on top of them to hold various accessories. The nuts are 13mm and the bolts are 14mm (in my truck). I first removed these using a stubby wrench until I got to the two on the passenger side. I then had to resort to a girlfriend with small hands (since the exhaust pipe is still installed, you only have a few inches of clearance). Removing these bolts took FOREVER. Save yourself about 3 hours and buy a 24 inch extension. With the extension, you can sit at the back of the trans and install the bolts very easily. Took me about ½ hour for all 6. Trust me, buy the extension.

    If you remove all 6 bolts from the trans and it won’t come off, IT’S STUCK!!! Sounds stupid, but I lost about 2 hours making sure I didn’t damage anything rocking it back and forth before I looked online and found an easy solution. Take a large screwdriver (you want something narrow, a prybar did not work for me) and pry on the driver’s side where the trans meets the block. Don’t worry, this isn’t a gasketed surface so some minor marring won’t hurt – note MINOR. I got the block separated by about 1/16 inch and then hit the tailhousing from the other side with a dead blow hammer. This way, I was able to “rock” the trans off the two dowel pins.

    When you disconnect the two cooler lines, label them and tuck them out of the way. Label them so that later you aren’t covered in grease searching for your LMC truck catalog to trace lines where they should go. I have experience with this. Tuck them away so that you don’t bend the lower one removing the trans. I spent 2 hours trying to bend the lower one back into place without kinking it. There’s about 3 hours of time savings right there.

    I “flushed” the cooler lines on my truck with a compressed air nozzle and about a foot of tubing. I am sure there are better ways, but with a little patience I was able to remove almost all of the fluid.

    Removing the starter on my truck was a pain. The two mounting bolts came off easy, but I had to rotate the whole assembly vertical to remove the two electrical connections. Installation was easy. Go figure.

    For the post maintenance test, drive the truck a few miles and stop. You will be amazed at how much fluid you’ll add even after you’ve added all you can right after you first fired it up. My model has an auxiliary cooler, and it took about 10 quarts total. I drove about 15 miles stopping several times to get all of the air out and filling the trans back up to the required level.

    Lastly, check the torque converter lockup. Get the truck up to 50-60 miles and hour in 4th gear and with your foot on the gas, tap the brake. RPMs should go up about 500 RPM briefly. It’s not a foolproof test, but a good way to make sure the trans is locking up and you didn’t screw anything up.

    I am sure others have a lot more tips/tricks. Like I said, if I had read something like this before I set out, I would have easily saved a day or so of time. Good luck!!
  2. Z71_guy

    Z71_guy Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    good tips, an added tip

    Get some swivel sockets come in handy for the bell housing bolts along with many other chores
  3. bob13

    bob13 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Good Post! Thanks for taking the time to post here!

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