Top 4 Best Transmission Fluid for 4L60e and Filter Change

If you’re like most GM truck or SUV owners, you have a 4L60e automatic transmission. A well-maintained 4L60e can provide years of trouble-free service, but it’s important to perform regularly scheduled maintenance, including changing the transmission fluid and filter. In this article, we’ll show you how to change the transmission fluid and filter on a 4L60e transmission. We’ll also discuss some of the benefits of doing so. So read on to learn more about this important maintenance task!

4L60e transmission fluid change

The best Fluid type on 4L60E is any high-quality DEXRON 2 or DEXRON 3. The benefits of using those in that they:

  • provides consistent shift performance for new and old GM transmissions,
  • extends transmission fluid life and prevents fluid breakdown at higher operating temperatures,
  • provides excellent oxidative stability under severe conditions,
  • reduces sludge and varnish build-up.

Owners find that too can use either Dexron VI or Mercon ATF.

Best Overall
Valvoline DEXRON VI/MERCON LV (ATF) Full Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid
Motul Dexron III
Triax Multi-Purpose ATF DEX III/MERC,

Overall #1 Rated Pick

Valvoline DEXRON/MERCON  (ATF) Automatic Transmission Fluid

Valvoline DEXRON/MERCON (ATF) Automatic Transmission Fluid

Valvoline™ DEXRON*-VI/MERCON* LV ATF is a full-synthetic transmission fluid formulated with advanced additive technology to meet and exceed the requirements of General Motors* DEXRON*-VI specification. It is officially licensed and approved by GM* and is fully back-serviceable and can be used wherever DEXRON*-II and/or DEXRON*-III are recommended. Recommended for use in the following applications: DEXRON*-VI, DEXRON*-III, DEXRON*-II, MERCON* LV, and Allison C-4.


  • Formulated with full-synthetic base stocks and advanced additive technology to meet the challenging demands of automatic transmissions.
  • Enhanced anti-shudder protection for smooth shifting and maximum power transfer.
  • Developed with anti-wear technology to help improve transmission durability.
  • Engineered with a proprietary blend of base oils and advanced additives to provide better oil flow at low temperatures and greater film protection at higher temperatures.

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4L60e Transmission Overview

4L60e transmission fluid change

4L60e transmissions are used in General Motors vehicles. The 4L60E uses a hydraulic torque converter clutch (TCC) which is activated at high RPM to provide the extra power needed when passing or climbing hills. When this occurs, it leads to higher vehicle speed and increased horsepower.

The overdrive gear in the rear axle provides an additional ratio within the transmission for increased vehicle fuel economy.

The 4L60E has five forward gears, one of which is an overdrive. The extra gear gave the 4L60 more torque multiplication than any of its competitors in its time.

The fluid capacity of the 4L60e transmission is 6.5 quarts with a filter change. This process is the same for the 4L65e transmission.

Here are car models that use 4L60e Transmission:

  • Buick Rainier 2004-2007
  • Buick Roadmaster 1994–1996
  • Cadillac Escalade 1999-2000, 2002-2005 (models with LM7/5.3L V8 Also with 6.0 LQ9)
  • Cadillac Fleetwood 1994–1996
  • Chevrolet Astro 1993-2005
  • Chevrolet Avalanche 2002-2008
  • Chevrolet S-10 Blazer 1994-2005
  • Chevrolet Camaro 1994–2002
  • Chevrolet Caprice 1994-96
  • Chevrolet Colorado 2004-2012
  • Chevrolet Corvette 1994–2004
  • Chevrolet Express 2003-2012
  • Chevrolet Impala SS 1994–1996
  • Chevrolet S-10 1994-2005
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500-2500 (2500 with 6 bolt axle pattern)
  • Chevrolet C/K SUV,Truck 1993-2000
  • Chevrolet SSR 2003-2006
  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Chevrolet TrailBlazer 2003-2009
  • GMC Canyon 2004-2012
  • GMC Envoy 2003-2009
  • GMC Jimmy 1993-2005
  • GMC Safari 1993-2005
  • GMC Savana 2003-2013
  • GMC Sierra 1500-2500 (2500 with 6 bolt axle pattern)
  • GMC Sonoma 1994-2005
  • GMC Yukon
  • GMC Yukon XL Denali
  • GMC Vandura 1993-1996
  • Holden Commodore 1993–2012
  • Holden Monaro 2001-2006
  • Holden Caprice 1994–2008
  • Hummer H3
  • Oldsmobile Bravada
  • Pontiac Firebird 1994–2002
  • Pontiac GTO 2004
  • Saab 9-7X 2005-2009
  • Isuzu Ascender 2007

What Does Transmission Fluid Do?

4L60e transmission fluid change

What is transmission fluid? Transmission fluid is a lubricant that reduces the friction and heat produced when the vehicle’s parts move against each other while turning. The fluid circulates through a vehicle’s transmission, where it helps separate moving parts of the engine from one another during a process called torque multiplication.

General Motors uses Dexron®-III automatic transmission fluid in all its vehicles with 4L60e series transmissions, also known as THM400s. Dexron®-III is different from Dexron®-II because it can handle higher temperatures without losing viscosity or damaging delicate seals within an automatic transmission system. A study conducted by GM engineers proved that there was no noticeable difference between Dexron®-III and special additives used in Mercedes Benz and Chrysler transmissions.

The transmission fluid level in a 4L60e series transmission should be checked when the engine oil is changed, because it will need to be replaced when the oil is drained. There are no other scheduled maintenance requirements for this type of transmission, but there are factors that affect how often a service must be performed:

  1. Acceleration

The harder a vehicle is driven, the more heat it produces inside the transmission system. If a vehicle’s acceleration rate becomes too high, damage can occur to gears and bearings due to excessive heat generated from torque multiplication. High performance vehicles accelerate at much higher rates than regular vehicles, causing significant stress on their transmissions. Performance-tuned vehicles also have shorter life expectancies for their transmissions, which require replacement at a faster rate than standard transmissions.

  1. Driving Modes

The more frequently a driver uses overdrive, the faster a 4L60e series transmission will wear out. When an engine is under load, RPMs increase to maintain torque multiplication within the transmission. If overdrive is used, less load pressure is applied on gears and bearings, resulting in less friction and heat produced by torque multiplication. Using overdrive half of the time decreases wear rates by 50 percent compared to using it 75 percent of the time or more often.

  1. Operating Conditions

Temperature has an effect on not only how quickly parts wear out but also what type of fluid they can handle without breaking down due to stress. Heat affects all types of fluids, causing them to thin out when temperatures become too high. Vehicle owners should avoid driving in extremely hot conditions whenever possible to help extend the life of their transmission system.

Transmission Fluid for 4L60E – Buyer’s Guide

Best Transmission Fluid for a 4L60e Transmission

The 4L60e is a fully electronic automatic transmission with four gears. These transmissions are found in many GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Trailblazer  (2001-2006), Chevrolet Caprice (1991-1996), and Chevrolet Impala SS (2003). The fluid type used for this transmission will affect its performance, life expectancy, and overall operation of the vehicle. Owners find that they can use either Dexron VI or Mercon ATF. While individual experiences may vary with every vehicle, these fluids appear to be the most reliable options based on extensive research online by owners of various makes and models.

Valvoline DEXRON VI/MERCON LV (ATF) Full Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid

Valvoline DEXRON VI/MERCON LV (ATF) Full Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid
The important thing to know here is that the recommended transmission fluid for the 4L60E transmission is Dexron III, as well as Dexron 6 and Dexron Merc too. This particular transmission may also take other compatible ATFs or automatic transmission fluids. The number one overall pick here would have to be Valvoline DEX/MERC (ATF) Automatic Transmission Fluid. There are a variety of reasons why this particular option makes for the top pick.
Technical Specifications:
Brand: Valvoline
Value for money: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
This transmission fluid is made with a mix of premium base stocks and enhanced additives
Features anti-shudder protection to help enhance smooth shifting, as well as for maximum power transfer
Comes complete with anti-wear and anti-friction technology to help improve the durability and lifespan of the transmission
Designed to help maintain better flow at lower temperatures while also offering good protection at higher temperatures

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Castrol Transmax DEX/MERC Multi-Vehicle Transmission Fluid is for use in transmissions and power steering of older Ford and General Motors vehicles and any other vehicle where the specifications for this product are recommended. Castrol Transmax DEX/MERC automatic transmission fluid is for use in all Ford models from 1983 to 1996 and for General Motors 2005 and earlier vehicles.
Technical Specifications:
Brand: Castrol
Value for money: 🔥🔥🔥🔥
Enhanced friction durability for smooth transmission performance
Superior high temperature protection for city and highway driving
Unsurpassed oxidation resistance to prevent increases in viscosity

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Motul Dexron III

Motul Dexron III
This fluid can be used for all systems when DEXRON or MERCON standard is required such as automatic gearboxes, torque converters, power steering systems, boat reversing gears, hydrostatic transmission, and hydraulic or mechanical systems. It has more fluid at low temperatures than Dexron IIE oils, allowing easier gear change in cold weather. The fluid has higher oxidation resistance than Dexron IIE standard and oil film stability under high temperatures. It has anti-wear, anti-corrosion and anti-foam properties.
Technical Specifications:
Brand: Motul
Value for money: 🔥🔥🔥🔥
For all systems when DEXRON or MERCON standard is required
Allows easier gear change in cold weather
Higher oxidation resistance than Dexron IIE standard

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Triax Multi-Purpose ATF DEX III/MERC,

Triax Multi-Purpose ATF DEX III/MERC,
TRIAX Multi-Purpose ATF is an automatic transmission fluid that has been created for electronically controlled transmissions. This product meets the performance requirements for Allison Transmission Division (C-4), and major hydraulic pump manufacturers’ requirements for anti-wear hydraulic fluids. This fluid provides excellent oxidation, anti-wear properties, and low-temperature fluidity desired for most automatic transmissions. TRIAX Multi-Purpose ATF contains top-of-the-line technology to help eliminate transmission slippage, facilitate smooth and flawless shifting, frictional stability, and overall exceptional performance. Sure shift technology is a unique combination of additives and frictional stabilizers that allows optimal synchrony functionality and gear change characteristics. Eliminates whines and transmission gear shift slippage. Compatible with a wide range including Chrysler, GM, Caterpillar, and Ford.
Technical Specifications:
Brand: Triax
Value for money: 🔥🔥🔥🔥
SureShift Technology for flawless shifting, slippage control, and virtually zero foaming which economy ATF's do not offer
State of the art EP additive systems to protect syncrons and gears and to prevent scuffing
Smooth, responsive shifting, high viscosity stability, and lower transmission operating temperature
Complete seal protection for natural and synthetic rubber seals with superior yellow metal protection for brass and copper components

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When to check transmission fluid in the 4L60e

4L60e transmission fluid change

Transmission fluid is a common cause for concern if your vehicle starts to have issues. Here’s how to check 4L60e transmission fluid and filter, as well as how often it needs to be changed.

How do You Check Transmission Fluid?

You can check the transmission fluid level in two ways with this model. The first method is with the engine running and hot; put the gear selector into PARK (automatic) or NEUTRAL (manual). Once in that position, rev the engine slightly; you should see some signs on your instrument panel telling you what gear it’s in and whether the parking brake is engaged. Let off of the gas and then let go of whatever indicator was on at the moment. Your temperature gage should be in the normal range at this point. Once you’re sure the engine is at a proper temperature, go ahead and check your transmission fluid level.

The other method for checking your transmission fluid level with this model is to turn off the engine and let it cool down to near room temperature. Once that’s done, open up the hood of your vehicle and locate your transmission dipstick. In some cases it will be right next to one of your brake lines, but in most cases it will be on its own peg or handle separate from anything else. Remove it from its perch and wipe the excess fluid from around the opening before lowering it back into place within the tube. Look inside while doing so to see how high it comes up; if you’re below the mark, add fluid until it reaches the proper level.

If your transmission fluid level isn’t where it’s supposed to be, here’s how to check transmission fluid.

4L60e Transmission transmission fluid dipstick location

The 4L60e transmission is a four-speed automatic transaxle manufactured by General Motors. It is electronically controlled and has an electronically controlled torque converter lockup feature, instead of a mechanical one as on most other automatic transmissions.

To access the fluid from this car you will have to raise up the vehicle or remove a wheel well panel under the front passenger seat. Then follow that line across the top of the transmission case towards where it connects with a hard line going down to the radiator. The dipstick tube will be located along that path, passing through a cast part on its way down which can make getting at it difficult if not impossible without removing it first. To release the dipstick you will need to twist it out of its hole and pull it out. As you remove it, make a mental note of which direction the numbers on the side face (so when you put it back in you know where to line up the notch with how much fluid is in there).

Steps for changing 4L60e Transmission Fluid:

  1. Raise car on ramps or roll it into a service bay. A large, flat work space is necessary to remove the pan and transmission filter. A pan removal tool can be helpful in removing the pan if you do not have one, but it is only needed for 2007+ models with some oil screens that are difficult to separate from the pan.
  2. Remove exhaust pipe where catalytic converter meets exhaust manifold (optional). This is only necessary on 1993-1997 models, but makes the job much easier because there will be no leaks of unburnt fuel into your engine oil when you remove or replace the torque converter seal.
  3. Drain Transmission Fluid:
  • drain plug is located at bottom of transmission, directly to the left of torque converter
  • remove plug and drain fluid into pan
  1. Remove Transmission Filter:
  • The transmission filter is very easy to remove. There are three bolts on the front face of the pan, and two more at the rear of the pan. Remove all five bolts with a 3/8″ ratchet or socket wrench.
  • Do NOT reuse old gasket! New gaskets should be used on every install for each application.
  • If you have a drill, you can use it to quickly drill out any stubborn bolts that are hard to break loose by hand. NOTE: You must first remove one bolt at rear of pan to remove the rear gasket.
  1. Pull off Trans Pan: Once all bolts are out, pull straight up on transmission pan until it comes free from engine block. It will come out a few inches and then you can lift the rest of the way up.
  2. Remove Torque Converter Seal: There is an oil seal between the torque converter and the back of the transmission main shaft known as a torque converter seal or output shaft seal. This part cannot be reused, so go ahead and pry it out with a flat head screwdriver or other implement that will not damage its mating surface on case. If your car leaks fluid from this area, you will have worse problems than just getting new parts because if you are leaking that badly, then your rear seal has already failed.
  3. Transfer O-Rings to New Transmission Pan: The pan comes with two paper gaskets and new o-rings for the bolts. If you are reusing your old pan, it will not come with these parts. You can access them through a hole in bottom of pan or remove whole pan to get them off shaft (recommended). One o-ring goes on output speed sensor where it meets transmission case and other goes on input speed sensor where it meets torque convertor. DO NOT reuse old ones! They swell up after heat cycles and do not seal well anymore.
  4. Install New Torque Converter Seal: This step is also needed if you are reusing your old pan or if you removed the pan. The seal goes at the back of the main shaft (output speed sensor end) and seals between transmission cases.
  5. Clean Transmission Pan:
  • coat new paper gasket with fresh, high quality RTV silicone gasket maker or other gasket material like Permatex Ultra Black
  • coat pan lightly with fresh RTV
  • wipe off excess RTV
  1. Install New Transmission Pan: Once clean, install new transmission pan onto main shaft (output speed sensor end). There are two o-rings for bolt at rear of pan. Now is a good time to replace these if you have not already done so. If your car leaks fluid from this area, you will have worse problems than just getting new parts because if you are leaking that badly, then your rear seal has already failed.
  2. Secure Transmission Pan down with two bolts at front of pan and one bolt at rear of pan. Torque bolts to 35 ft-lbs (47 n-m). Do NOT reuse old bolts!
  3. Fill Transmission Fluid: This step only applies if you are reusing an existing transmission or have drained it previously in another step. You can insert a large funnel into dipstick tube and pour 4 qts. (4L) of transmission fluid in through tube (make sure it is the correct fluid for the car).
  4. Replace Transmission Filter: For cars equipped with a filter, remove old filter and instantly install new one by pushing it firmly into transmission. Be careful not to bend or break any o-rings when removing/installing new filter. Cars without filters will simply have an empty space where previous filter was located.
  5. Add Additional Fluid if Needed

Once you’ve added or replaced your 4L60e transmission fluid, it’s time for another checkup. If you’re due for an oil change in the next 2,000 miles or so, schedule this test to take place at the same time as that service appointment. Otherwise, try and perform this test around once every 30 days or so just to stay on top of things. Once again, check your transmission dipstick after letting the car cool down thoroughly and seeing what kind of level it reaches at room temperature. If need be, add more fluid until it reaches the proper level.

When your transmission fluid is changed, make sure to check Transmission Fluid Leaks.

How often do you need to change your transmission fluid? Maybe once every two or three years if driven on short trips or just once a year if driven under severe conditions. Check with the owner’s manual for the exact recommendation on how often you should change your transmission fluid/filter, but most are 15k-30k miles

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