4l80e Transmission Guide & Information

4l80e Transmission - Transmission Cooler Guide

4l80e Transmission Information

What Vehicles Did The 4l80e Come In?

2006 GMC Sierra 2500 - Transmission Cooler Guide

The 4l80e transmission was found in a many heavy duty GM and high end luxury vehicles, such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Jaguar ranging from model years 1991 – 2013.  Here is the complete list of 4l80e equipped cars and trucks.

  • 1991–2013 Chevrolet C/K/Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 2500 & 3500
  • 1991–2013 Chevrolet/GMC Suburban/GMC Yukon 2500 & 3500
  • 1991–2009 Chevrolet Van/Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana 2500 & 3500
  • 2002–2006 Chevrolet Avalanche 2500 General Motors LS engine only
  • 1992-2006 Hummer H1
  • 1992–1998 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit/Spur II, III, IV
  • 1991–1992 Bentley Eight
  • 1991–1997 Bentley Turbo R
  • 1991–2002 Bentley Continental R/S/T
  • 1999–2006 Bentley Arnage Red Label / Bentley Arnage R/RL/T
  • 1993–1996 Jaguar XJS
  • 1994–1997 Jaguar XJR
  • 1993–1997 Jaguar XJ12 / Daimler Double Six
  • 1996–1999 Aston Martin DB7
  • 2000- 2006 Chevrolet HD trucks

Although the 4l80e is common in a lot of heavy duty vehicles, their strength, even in stock forms makes them a very sought out candidate for transmission swaps in high performance cars or trucks in drag race applications. 

What Year 4l80e Is Best?

When it comes to the 4l80e, not much is different in terms of years, but how its taken care of is more important.  Is has often been debated all over the internet that a newer (99+) 4l80e is more capable than an older unit.  However, many have used 4l80e transmissions from all years and have had plenty of success with longevity and reliability in extreme use cases.

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4l80e Transmission Specs 

Case Material: Aluminum 

Torque Rating: 440 ft lbs

Weight: 236 pounds (Dry)

Fluid Capacity: 14 quarts (Dry)

Gear Ratios:

  • 1st Gear: 2.48:1
  • 2nd Gear: 1.48:1
  • 3rd Gear: 1.00:1
  • 4th Gear: 0.75:1
  • Reverse: 2.07:1

4l80e Transmission Fluid Type, Capacity & Specs

Dexron 6 Transmission Fluid - Transmission Fluid GuideThe 4l80e recommended transmission fluid if  Dex / Merc aka Dexron 3 (Dex III), or is backwards compatible with the modern Dexron 6 (Dex VI), and has a fill capacity of about 14 quarts of transmission fluid.  When dropping the transmission pan to perform a standard drain and fill transmission fluid change, you can expect to replace around anywhere from 4-5 quarts of fluid assuming the stock transmission pan is being used.

If you have a deeper aftermarket transmission pan on your 4l80e, then this quart estimate will likely be more and require you to check fluid levels as you fill and run the transmission through the gears.

Overall, the best transmission fluid for 4l80e transmissions is either a factory spec Dexron 3 or Dexron 6.  The beauty of the 4l80e is that it’s just a simple old GM transmission, so there’s no need for expensive transmission fluid.  We still recommend Dex 6 in most common applications.

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4l80e Transmission Fluid Temperature

The 4l80 runs in the 180-200 range when fully warmed up,

Transmission Fluid Temperature Chart

To combat transmission temp issues, installing an aftermarket transmission cooler is certainly helpful along with a deeper, higher capacity transmission pan if you have the space to do so, and thermostat bypass.  

4l80e Transmission Filter

6l80e Transmission Pan & Gasket - Transmission Cooler Guide

Transmission filters for the 4l80e are very inexpensive and simple.  Most  4l80e transmission filters and kits (including pan gasket and filter seal) cost around $20 – $30.  The filters we recommend for your 4l80e are:

4l80e Transmission Maintenance

The 4l80e requires recommended maintenance of changing the fluid, and filter every 30,000 miles depending on usage.  If you have a truck that you use to tow or haul often, it’s best to check your fluid and make a determination as to how frequent you should change out your fluid.

When checking your transmission fluid, be sure to not only look at the fluid level, but the color and smell. Good transmission fluid will have a reddish color to it, but if it looks dark, almost brown and has a slight burnt smell to it, then you are very past due on your maintenance.  The chart below shows how transmission fluid looks at various stages.

Transmission Fluid Color Comparison - Transmission Cooler Guide

4l80e Transmission Fluid & Filter Change

Changing transmission fluid and filter in your 4l80e is a very simple and straight forward DIY project if you are handy. One of pros of the 4l80e is that there is typically a drain plug on the bottom the pan to make fluid and filter maintenance easy.  Like said before, it’s typically best to do a basic transmission fluid change every 30,000 miles or so depending on use.  If you tow or race often, it’s always a good idea to change fluid more frequently. 

Below is a detailed video of performing a transmission fluid change on a 4l80e in a Chevy Silverado. The same idea applies across the board for most 4l80e equipped vehicle. 

How many quarts does it take to do a fluid and filter change on a 4l80e trans?  For a typical pan drop and fluid change, you will need about 5-7 quarts to do the job. 

As always, start with adding a few quarts of atf when you have the new filter and pan back on and shift through the gears to get fluid moving and warm, then keep checking and added until you have the right level.

4l80e Transmission Pan Torque Specs

When reinstalling the transmission pan on your 4l80e, be sure to not over tighten the pan bolts.  The correct torque spec for the 4l80e transmission pan bolts is 100 – 120 inch pounds.  In addition, it’s best to tighten the bolts in a cross pattern to prevent over-tightening on one side of the pan over the other.   It’s not the biggest issue, but typically best practice to torque (or use your better judgement) in a somewhat consistent sequence. 

4l80e Upgrades

When it comes to upgrading your 4l80e, besides adding better internals and hard parts, there are a few simple upgrades that you can make to keep transmission temps down.  The most common simple DIY 4l80e upgrades that can be done with simple hand tools in your driveway without removing the transmission to tear apart are definitely transmission coolers, pans, and thermostat bypass.

4l80e Transmission Pans

4l80e Transmission Pan - Transmission Cooler Guide Like other GM transmissions, the 4l80e has a very simple pan design that is easily removed for maintenance and has a good bit of aftermarket support.  While the stock pan is typically good enough for most, some opt for a larger capacity deep pan, especially those who tend to tow / haul or race more than average.  

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4l80e Transmission Coolers

B&M 70274 SuperCooler on Silverado - Transmission Cooler Guide

Adding a trans cooler to your 4l80e will ensure you have thousands of trouble free miles, and transmission temps stay within a suitable range. Since the nature of the 4l80e is to be capable of handling harsher than average conditions, the 4l80e transmission coolers need to be able to keep up. 

Based on this, we recommend the Tru Cool 40k, B&M 70274, and Derale 15960 as the best universal 4l80e transmission cooler upgrades.  All 3 of these transmission coolers are very capable of keeping trans temps low even in extreme conditions.  We have featured all 3 of these transmission coolers in other guides such as our towing and drag racing transmission cooler guide.

Installing a transmission cooler such as the Tru Cool 40k, B&M 70274, or Derale 15960, which we believe are the best transmission coolers for a 4l80e, will drastically lower transmission temperatures and help with the longevity of your transmission and fluid. 

Transmission Cooler Direct Fit Price
Tru Cool 40k transmission cooler LPD47391Tru Cool Max LPD47391 No Shop Now
B&M 70274 Transmission cooler - Transmission Cooler GuideB&M 70274 No Shop Now
Derale 15960 transmission cooler - Transmission Cooler GuideDerale 15960 No Shop Now

Tru Cool 40k Specs

Tru Cool 40k Transmission Cooler With Installation Kit - Transmission Cooler Guide

The Tru Cool 40k is a favorite of ours when it comes to universal transmission coolers used on trucks or SUV’s. There are certainly other transmission coolers that might be larger or include a fan, but for the cost consistent performance, and simplicity, it’s hard to go against the Tru Cool 40k for the money.

Like all Tru Cool transmission coolers, these are capable of handing abuse without breaking the bank, which is a great selling point for the budget minded 4l80e owner.   We have recommended the Tru Cool 40k a number of times, and rightfully so.  You cannot go wrong with this cooler on any truck that does any towing or hauling.  Not only that, this cooler is very popular with the performance truck crowd as well. 

Cooler Dimensions: 8 1/2″ x 22″ x 1 1/4″

GVW: 40,000 pounds

BTU Rating: 45,000

Fitting Size: 3/8″ inverted flare hex with 5/8″ thread size –  This is great for those looking to install custom transmission lines

Installation Kit:  Yes – Includes universal installation kit with rubber transmission line, various fittings, clamps, and mounting hardware

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B&M 70274 

B&M 70274 transmission cooler - Transmission Cooler Guide

Like many B&M SuperCooler transmission coolers, the 70274 is designed to handle high abuse situations and disperses of heat extremely efficiently. In our more in depth product review of the B&M 70274, we cover how the  cooler is a direct fit application that requires little effort installing.  

Overall, if you have a 4l80e equipped truck, SUV, or swapped into a fun streetcar, this cooler can’t be beat for the performance it provides.  Because of this, we recommend it in our Best Sierra & Silverado Transmission Coolers write up.

B&M 70274 Specs

Cooler Dimensions: 11″ x 11″ x 1 1/2″

Cooler Type: Stacked Plate

Cooling Rows: 48

GVW:  29,200 (BTU)

Fitting Size: 1/2″ NPT

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Derale 15960

Derale 15960 transmission cooler - Transmission Cooler Guide

The Derale 15960 transmission cooler is a stacked plate style cooler with 25 cooling rows and an 8″ fan that flows 500+ CFM.  This combo was designed for maximum transmission cooling efficiency, and will certainly keep your 4l80e nice and cool. On its own, the cooler itself is rated for 30,000 GVW, but with the addition of the fan, it’s capable of a lot more. 

This cooler, like many other Derale transmission coolers comes complete with an installation kit that includes 10 ft of transmission hose, fittings, and clamps to aid in the mounting process.  While the cooler comes with the fittings and extra rubber hose, the fitting on the cooler are -8AN, so custom lines with AN fittings are certainly an option as well.

One of the nice features of the Derale 15960 is that it comes with a thermostat that will automatically turn the fan on when transmission temperatures flowing into the cooler reach 180 degrees.  This is great to have for the user who is looking for a 100% worry free transmission cooler.

Overall, the Derale 15960 transmission cooler can be mounted almost anywhere. Making it a popular addition for performance cars, hot rods, muscle cars and trucks.

Derale 15960 Specs

Cooler Dimensions: 13″ x 10″ x 5 5/8″ (includes fan height)

Cooler Type: Stacked Plate

Cooling Rows: 25

GVW:  46,000 (BTU)

Fitting Size: -10AN / 7/8″-14 o-ring female x -8AN male

Get The Best Price on Derale 15960 Transmission Coolers

4l80e Common Problems