6L80E Transmission Guide & Information

6l80e Transmission

The Hydra-Matic 6L80 (production code MYC) is a six-speed automatic transmission produced by General Motors for use in rear- and rear-biased all-wheel-drive vehicles with a longitudinal powertrain orientation. Developed in-house by General Motors, the Hydra-Matic 6L80 is part of the 6LXX family of fuel-saving, electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmissions that succeeded the 5LXX family.

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6l80e Transmission Information

What Vehicles Did The 6l80e Come In?

Best Silverado & Sierra Transmission Coolers - Transmission Cooler GuideBecause of its ability to be used on a number of different platforms, the 6l80e transmission was found in a many GM vehicles from model years 2006 – 2021 ranging from sports cars to full size pick up trucks.  Here is the complete list of 6l80e equipped cars and trucks.

2006-2009 Cadillac XLR-V
2006-2014 Chevrolet Corvette
2006 Holden VE Commodore/2008 Pontiac G8
2006 Holden/Chevrolet WM Statesman/Caprice
2007-2016 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 6.0 (6L90)
2007-2009 Cadillac STS-V, STS
2007-2015 Cadillac Escalade
2010-present Chevrolet Express 2500-3500 (6L90-E)
2007-2015 GMC Yukon Denali
2009-2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
2008-2009 Hummer H2
2009-2013 Cadillac CTS-V (6L90)
2010-2021 (K2XX) Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500
2010-2015 Chevrolet Camaro
2011-2017 Chevrolet Caprice PPV
2012-2015 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (6L90)
2011(September)-2012 Holden VE Commodore Series 2(MY 2012)
2014-2017 Holden VF Commodore / Chevrolet SS
2008-2013 Chevrolet Avalanche

6l80e Transmission Specs 

Case Material: Aluminum 

Torque Rating: 664 ft lbs

Weight: 195 pounds (Dry), 230 pounds (Filled)

6l80 Gear Ratios:

  • 1st Gear: 4.03:1
  • 2nd Gear: 2.36:1
  • 3rd Gear: 1.53:1
  • 4th Gear: 1.15:1
  • 5th Gear: 0.85:1
  • 6th gear: 0.67:1
  • Reverse: 3.06:1

6l80e Transmission Fluid Type & Specs

Dexron 6 Transmission Fluid - Transmission Fluid Guide

How Many Quarts of Transmission Fluid Does a 6l80 Take?

The 6l80e takes Dexron 6 (Dex VI)  transmission fluid and has a 11 – 13 quart dry fill capacity including torque converter.  When dropping the transmission pan to perform a standard drain and fill transmission fluid change, you can expect to replace around anywhere from 4-6 quarts of fluid assuming the stock transmission pan is being used.

If you have a deeper aftermarket transmission pan on your 6l80e, 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.

  • Backward compatible with previous Dexron automatic transmission fluids and can be used as a much-improved replacement for older vehicles/transmissions originally using previous Dexron fluids
  • Improved performance over previous Dexron fluids in: friction durability, viscosity stability, aeration and foam control, and oxidation resistance
  • Potential to enable improved fuel economy and longer transmission life
  • Provides for extended drain intervals. Provides consistent shift performance, even in extreme conditions.

6l80e Transmission Fluid Temperature

The 6l80 normal operating temperature is in the 180-200 range when fully warmed up, and this based on the thermostat that prevents transmission fluid from running through the whole transmission cooling system in an effort to improve gas mileage.  While the engineering behind this is sound, the logic is somewhat questionable.  The fluid stays in the transmission until the thermostat opens up then will flow to the cooler.  When the cooler reaches that 190 degree temp, it will constantly cycle between the cooler and staying in the case. 

We aren’t the biggest fan of this for obvious reasons,  and neither are many other owners of 6l80e equipped vehicles. While 200 degree temps aren’t the end of the world, the fluid will constantly stay in that range over a long duration. The transmission fluid chart below shows that even a 25 degree drop from 200 will add another 40,000 miles of use out of our transmission. 

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.  

6l80e Transmission Filter

6l80e Transmission Pan & Gasket - Transmission Cooler Guide

Transmission filter kits for the 6l80e are very inexpensive and simple.  Most  6l80e transmission filters and kits which include a new pan gasket, filter, and filter seal cost around $20 – $30.  The filters we recommend for your 6l80e are:

As an FYI, the 6l80 transmission pan gaskets are a much higher quality material than older style gaskets, which as usually a thin rubber or cork gasket.  The more modern pan gasket on the 6l80 is reusable, but depending on it’s condition, it might be best to replace it when dropping the pan.

  • Airtight closure prevents loss of line pressure
  • Filter fibers and phenolic resin resist change in temperatures
  • Manufactured to GM OE specifications for fit, form and function
  • Provides the performance and dependability you expect from ACDelco
  • Premium filter specified to OE levels of filtration and fluid flow
  • Ensures transmission longevity when replaced at regular service intervals
  • Includes replacement reusable style gasket to replace aged original
  • Designed to prevent pan leaks
  • Kit for GM 6L80 Transmissions (confirm by inputting year / make / model)

6l80e Transmission Maintenance

The 6l80e requires recommended maintenance of changing the fluid, and filter every 30,000 – 50,000 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

6l80e Transmission Fluid Change

Changing transmission fluid in your 6l80e can range from easy to a major pain average DIY weekend mechanic.  In all actually, the hardest part of the job is draining the fluid from the pan if your pan doesn’t have a drain plug in most situation, which is quite common with more transmission fluid changes. On the newer trucks however, you have a joy of dealing with the exhaust y-pipe not giving you enough clearance to drop the pan without some clever methods or loosening the exhaust which may be a pain in its own right. 

Below is a detailed video of performing a transmission fluid change on a 6l80e in a Chevy Silverado.

How many quarts does it take to do a fluid and filter change on a 6l80e trans?  For a typical pan drop and fluid change, you will need about 5-6 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.

6l80e Upgrades

When it comes to upgrading your 6l80e, 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 6l80e 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.

6l80e Transmission Pans

Depending on what vehicle you have, your 6l80 might have different transmission pans.  Pans that come factory on trucks and SUVs do not typically have a drain plug, where as on cars, you should have one towards the back of the pan.  Below is an example of a factory truck pan that does not have a drain plug. 

6l80 Transmission Pan - Transmission Cooler Guide

When you combine the limited space around the exhaust and lack of a drain plug, this makes dropping the transmission pan tough on trucks. With the cars however, things are far easier with the drain plug and exhaust out of the way. 

Aftermarket 6l80 Transmission Pan - Transmission Cooler Guide

If you are looking for aftermarket pans that allow for more fluid capacity, there are plenty of options.  Most aftermarket “deep” 6l80 pans are made from a heavy duty cast aluminum, and typically provide an extra 2 quarts of fluid capacity or retain the factory fluid levels but provide added strength. 

Find The Best Prices On 6l80 Transmission Pans

 

6l80e Common Problems

Since the 6L80 transmission is  used in all GM 2wd and 4×4 cars and trucks, it was bound to have problems with various platforms.  The 6l80 was the first fully electronically controlled heavy duty transmission designed by GM with unique features including direct clutch to clutch shifting and the use of an advanced computer controller built directly into the transmission’s the valve body.

The 6l80 was designed to handle the torque output of some of GM’s biggest late-model LS (gen 4) and LT (gen 5) v8 engines, but a number of design flaws created most of the common 6L80E transmission problems. One common 6l80 issue due to design flaws include premature clutch failure. Other common 6L80E transmission problems include: 

Cracks in the 1-2-3-4 piston 

Early versions of the 6l80 had issues with developing cracks in the 1-2-3-4 piston, and sometimes within the piston itself.  Transmission builders who specialize in the 6l80 will often install an updated version of the 1-2-3-4 piston and housing to prevent future problems. 

Cracked Drum 

A cracked drum that has failed can create 3-5-Reverse clutch problems. Some 6l80 builders may  weld the cracks, but that isn’t a permanent solution.  IF a 6l80 is ever taken apart for a rebuild, it’s generally best practice to consider replacing the drum with a stronger aftermarket unit. 

4-5-6 clutch hub and intermediate shaft 

Due to issues with the original manufacturing process, cracks and other damage can cause a catastrophic failure of the 4-5-6 clutch pump and intermediate shaft. This issue can obviously cause a number of serious drivability issues. 

Torque converter failure

If you’re familiar with 6l80 equipped full size trucks such as the Silverado, Sierra, TAhoe, etc, then you know that the converter is a common source of failure. This is due to the constant shutter that the converter sees when DOD is constantly cycling on and off. 

Many times, people will tune out the DOD and reduce the converter lockup in certain gears while improving pressures to prevent the TCC from wearing out. 

When this happens, it sends TCC clutch material through the transmission cooling system and into the transmission which ultimately leads to failure and the need for a rebuild.

6l80e Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC)