4L60 vs 4L60E: Comparing the Differences

GM changed the name of the 700R4 in the middle of its production cycle.  The new name was 4L60.  After a few years the 700R4/4L60 became the 4L60E around 1992.  This is cost a total of confusion with people looking to buy the right transmission. Now in the aftermarket world, the 700R4 is almost always called the 700R4.  No confusion.  But, if you are going to pick up a “4L60” on Craigslist, just know that it’s an entirely different transmission than the 4L60E.

  • 4L60/700R4- Same transmission.
  • 4L60E- Fundamentally different.

4L60E vs 4L60:  Biggest Differences

The biggest difference between the 4L60 and 4L60E is how they are controlled.  The 4L60E is controlled by a computer, while the 4L60 is controlled by a TV cable. Since one is computer controlled, and the other is not, they don’t play nice with one another.
If you were to try to put a 4L60E where a 4L60 once was you’d have to buy an aftermarket transmission controller for it.  Otherwise it won’t know when to shift, when to kick down, how fast the vehicle is going, nothing.  On the other hand, a 4L60 would need a custom bracket to hook into the TV cable properly.  They also don’t have the same geometry for engaging the torque converter, so you’d need adapters for that.  If you are contemplating using one of these transmissions behind an engine that it was never meant to be behind, check out the LS swap transmission page on this site.  It’s loaded with helpful information about how to make these transmissions play nice where they were never meant to be.

4L60 and 4L60E similarity

These transmissions looked almost exactly alike on the outside when the 4L60E was introduced.  You could always tell them apart by the giant harness plug that went above the transmission pan.  There are quite a few things that these transmissions share in common.

  • They have the same bellhousing bolt pattern.  (Later 4L60E’s lose a bolt at the 12 o’clock position)
  • They use the same transmission pan and bolt pattern.
  • They are the same exact length.
  • The 4L60E and 4L60 both have the same number of gears and gear ratios.

When discussing the earliest 4l60E transmissions, they really did look and act exactly like the 700R4 did.  It wasn’t until later that the 4L60E began to evolve.  If you would like to read more about the evolution of the 4L60E over the years, check this article out:  Are all 4L60E transmissions the same?


Conclusion:  4L60 vs. 4L60E

It is really important to understand that these transmissions sound almost identical.  The difference is in the way that their shifts are controlled.  They represent GM‘s move from mechanical control to a more sophisticated computer vehicle management.  They are not easily compatible with each other, so make sure you get the one that you need.

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