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February 2022

Where Max Power and Good Cruisin’ Collide, the 4L80E Transmission Awaits

the 4L80E transmission

There are several benefits of having an overdrive transmission.

First off, these transmissions enable a car to use deep rear gears, which results in impressive launches.

There’s also the possibility of getting highway cruising ability with the use of these transmissions.

Despite these benefits, a good number of overdrive transmissions have a common issue of durability.

The 700-R4, for instance, as with other overdrive transmissions cannot withstand severe abuse, which is why the TH400 (Turbo-Hydramatic 400) is often used as a better option.

While switching to the TH400 may sound good, you can take it one step further to have durability and the full benefits of an overdrive Fourth gear.

How’s that? It’s with the use of the 4L80E transmission, a heavy-duty automatic overdrive that is based on the TH400.

About the 4L80E Transmission

The 4L80E transmission was launched by General Motors (in the early 1990s) and it was designed for longitudinal engine configurations.

The 4L80 abbreviation denotes, 4-Speed, Longitudinally mounted, and for 8000 lbs. vehicle weights.

It’s seen as a truck automatic transmission that features similar internal components to the TH400.

But unlike the TH400, the 4L80E sports an overdrive Fourth gear.

It also relies on electronics to control shift points, firmness, as with several other functions.

Today, you’ll find the 4L80E in several hot rods unlike a few years ago, where older cars lacked the electronics or computer controls to support this transmission.

Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning that the 4L80E was only used in Chevrolet/GMC pickups, the Hummer H1, Suburban 2500s, vans, and commercial vehicles when it was first launched.

The transmission was later used in Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles, and further modifications were made to it after prolonged testing.

Components of the 4L80E Transmission

The 4L80E has been rated to support engines with up to 440 ft·lbs (597 N·m) of torque while its maximum output torque is 885 ft.

The transmission has also been rated to max GVWR of 18,000 and it was made for vehicles up to 8000 lbs. GVWR.

What’s more, this transmission takes advantage of two-shift solenoids, which were referred to as Shift Solenoid A & Shift Solenoid B.

The solenoids were enhanced to adhere to OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics revision 2) regulations and were renamed 1-2 Shift Solenoid & 2-3 Shift solenoid.

Upon activating or deactivating the solenoids in a predetermined pattern by the PCM, you can get four distinct gear ratios.

The 4L80E ratios in each gear are:

  • First: 2.48
  • Second: 1.48
  • Third: 1.00
  • Fourth: 0.75
  • Reverse: 2.07

Advancement in Design

The popularity of the 4L80E can be tied to a number of companies.

These companies have designed wiring and computer controls to enable the installation of the 4L80E into vehicles.

There’s Art Carr, for instance, that specializes in modifying the tail shaft housing to support a mechanical speedometer drive.

The tail shaft housing uses sophisticated Motec Systems computer controls or a factory-made diesel truck transmission computer.

The diesel truck transmission will also feature a custom chip and wiring harness to handle the transmission.

There’s also an outfit design featuring a custom cast-aluminum tail shaft housing.

This housing has a mechanical speedo drive and allows you to choose between different trans mounts for various applications.

In line with that, some companies have designed a simple and low-cost GM diesel computer, as well as, a custom wiring harness to operate the trans.

Comparing the 4L80E to the TH400 Transmission

Comparing the 4L80E with the TH400 transmission shows certain similarities.

The reason is not farfetched given that GM used a good number of TH400 parts and designs in the 4L80E.

The major difference was the addition of an overdrive gear that would need another gearset and a slightly longer (~1-1/2″) case.

Accordingly, a higher percentage of the internal components of the 4L80E transmission can be used in the TH400.

On both transmissions, the bell housing bolt pattern and flexplate are the same.

Therefore, the bell housing bolt pattern and flexplate of the 4L80E can be used in big- or small-blocks.

Another similarity is with the 4L80E having a large 32 spline output shaft in the different 2wd and 4wd applications.

On the other hand, a throttle-position sensor (TPS) mounted to the carburetor is used in the carbureted application.

Limitations of the 4L80E Transmission

While the 4L80E is a great transmission, it still has certain drawbacks. Some of these include:


The 4L80E is a large and heavy transmission even though it will still fit in nicely into most GM muscle cars.

A real-life use case of this transmission is in a ’69 Chevelle even though there was a need to pound the tunnel around 1/4-inch to support the cooler lines.


The 4L80E is a bit on the pricey side since it costs around $2,500 to $3,000 depending on your chosen converter.

This cost is even more expensive than a good performance 700-R4 that goes for $1,500.


The 4L80E brings a lot to the table even in the current year and as such, it should be your goto transmission if you’re looking for great performance while using an automatic trans.

You’ll find this transmission in a wide range of muscle cars and other rides where ruggedness and durability are desired.

It’s even better that a good number of the 4L80’s components can be interchanged into the TH400, hence, if you own the latter, you can still step it up a bit.

Nevertheless, be wary of the big and heavy size of this transmission, as well, as the high cost of procuring it.

It’s also advisable to let an auto shop or car repair shop handle your planned upgrades if you have little or no knowledge about stepping up your transmission. 

Which Performance Automatic Transmission is Best for Your Swap Project

engine swap

An ‘LS swap’ is a switch and installation of the engine. The specific LS engine you would like to start with will largely depend on the budget with which you have to work. It all matters on what your basic objectives are when carrying out an LS swap. Your budget size will also go a long way when choosing an engine.

Difference Between Manual Transmission and Automatic Transmission

Manual transmission engines are still in existence today even though there is a sophisticated type of engine, automatic transmission engine, that can perform the same function as the manual transmission. The main distinction between these two models of transmission is that when the vehicle is in motion, a manual transmission allows you to do more work. 

Manual transmission engine will allow you to put the car into separate gears that suit the road surface. This is the reason for the word “manual”. This is achieved by making use of the clutch pedal and a gear shift knob. To attain higher speeds, you have to manually shift gears using the gear shift knob. On the other hand, the automatic transmission does the grunt work for you, fluidly shifting gears as you step on the gas pedal.

The pain that comes with manually shifting gears in a manual transmission is having to do more work yourself while driving. However, there are benefits of choosing a manual transmission over the automatic transmission. The joy that comes with fuel minimization, vehicle control, less cost of maintenance cannot be overemphasized.

With heavy traffic, an automatic transmission vehicle could be the best alternative because it eliminates the difficult chore of starting and stopping the engine, decelerating and accelerating the vehicle. However, with a variety of working parts and how often they take to repair in mechanic workshops, purchasing an automatic transmission could be worrisome.

Engine swap

An engine swap is a method of removing the original engine of a vehicle and restoring it with another engine type. Typically, an engine swap is done because of engine failures and degradation. Sometimes, having a larger and stronger engine which makes the car which is more powerful or economical is one of the reasons a new engine is mounted. Occasionally, there might be a scarcity of spare parts for older engines, so it may be simpler and cheaper to maintain a new replacement.

Of course, you may be eager to know the intricacies of converting your current manual transmission vehicle into an automatic transmission. For your current manual transmission vehicle, I will walk you through the upsides and downsides of having this conversion carried out.

Advantages of Converting from Manual Transmission to Automatic Transmission

Less effort when driving

You don’t need to use a clutch pedal while using an automatic transmission. In crowded, mitigating or urban environments, you can also do away with altering the gear stick. An advantageous option for converting from manual to automatic would be the reduction of effort on one leg which controls the clutch pedal and one hand which grabs the stick shift.

Better manoeuvrability

With an automatic car, off-road driving gets easier. The amount of effort to drive the automatic vehicle smoothly would be much less compared to the manual transmission. An automatic transmission is also found for highway cruising, to provide a better riding experience.

High cost

The cost of purchasing the parts, paying a highly-skilled mechanic, would be the single greatest factor in thwarting car owners from this conversion process. Some of the parts that require complete change and reconfiguration include; electrical wiring, gearbox console, gear level, meter reading console, torque converter, drive shaft, electrical control system and flywheel.

High fuel consumption

A significant drop in fuel efficiency has been confirmed by those who have already had their engine gearbox modified. This dip can be a costly adjustment if you are clocking more than 1000 km per month.

Automatic Transmission with The Best Performance

More often, although, the problem is not about the engine, it is about the transmission that can be used. Before you know what works and what doesn’t, here’s a rundown of the major players and a summary of the timeline for transmission.

  • The Powerglide

From 1950 to 1973, the Powerglide with two gear ratios, or Glide as other people refer to it, could be defined in the same number of cycles as speeds, powerful and quick. On the road, it showed its power and endurance, and for the certainty that it only moved once was a secret to its everlasting racing success. Over time, its success overcame the need for a three-speed automatic and the factory demands decreased to 4- and 6-cylinder vehicles until it was replaced by the Turbo Hydramatic 250.

  • Turbo Hydramatic 400

In 1964, this sought-after and recognized transmission was first used. The Turbo Hydramatic 400 was a tough three-speed system that propelled its popularity for commercial and heavy-duty truck use.

  • The 700 R4 or 4L60

The 700R4 was unveiled in 1982, and the Turbo Hydramatic 350 was finally phased out in 1984. With four forward gears, it was one of the GM Turbo Hydramatic transmissions. It was also renamed, like others, in 1990 and called the 4L60. 

Based on throttle position and governor pressure, the 4L60 was still hydraulically shifted; it advanced to electronic shifting and became the 4L60E later in 1992.

Why 4L60E Is the Best for Your Swap Project

For a few reasons, the 4L60E is one of the most common transmissions for LS swap. It is known to be a strong and reliable transmission. It is also what originated to be the original automatic transmission giving backing to the majority of LS engines. 

Another remarkable feature of the 4L60E is that, since it is an advancement of the 700R4, without any alteration, it can match well in most old vehicles.

The crucial thing not to forget is that the 4L60E was much longer than the LS and there are a variety of different models, which means that any 4L60E is not an instant match for LS. 

Over the years, the case and remarkable portion of the controls have been changed, so it is very important to use the transmission codes and know what you have before using them.

Ultimate Guide to the 4L80E Transmission

4L80E Performance Transmission

The 4L80E transmission was introduced in the GM C/K Trucks line-up – to the delight of motorists – in 1991. The legendary TurboHydramatic TH400 automatic transmission was the 4L80E transmission’s immediate predecessor. It is constructed to a great extent on the 400 in strength and parts. The 4L80E also features a lock-up torque converter, an added overdrive gear, as well as state-of-the-art electronic controls. This automatic transmission has remained in production through the 2009+ model year.

In this post, you will learn more about the 4L80E transmission as well as its variant, i.e., the 4L85E. The latter is constructed such that it can efficiently handle heavy-duty use. Every reference to the 4L80E also applies to this variant, except where stated otherwise. 

Note that the terms ‘4L80’ and ‘4L85’ may be used without adding the suffix, ‘É.’ This is because every GM automatic is electronically controlled now and, therefore, doesn’t need differentiation. 

Let’s get to the meat of the matter.

The Development of the 4L80E Transmission

As mentioned briefly earlier, the 4L80E automatic transmission was directly developed from the TH400 transmission. The latter is a tough and enduring transmission at GM – as well as other marques. It was practically the last hold-out of the entire old-school automatics with no overdrive or lock-up converter.

GM quickly recognized a gap revealed by the rapidly expanding success of the 4L80E/700R4 automatic transmission. Although the 700R4 was a tough transmission, it could not really hold a candle to the TH400 transmission. 

And for this particular reason, GM had no choice but to start developing a pretty heavy-duty automatic overdrive.

GM relied heavily on – and used – several parts or components and designs derived from the TH400 transmission when developing the 4L80E. But the added overdrive gear gave the 4L80E an edge over its predecessor, even though it required a somewhat longer case and an extra gear set.

The rear tail housing bolt pattern was not tampered with in any way. However, its indexing bore diameter was efficiently changed. The 4L80E transmission features a large 32 spline output shaft – much like the TH400 transmission – in the numerous 2WD and 4WD applications.

The 4L80E features a die-cast aluminum case, just like most other GM automatics. However, the 4L80E never featured a removable bellhousing, unlike the 4L60E automatic transmission. Instead, the 4L80E transmission showcases an integrated bellhousing with the Chevrolet 90-degree engine bolt pattern only.

In 1991, GM trucks rolled out into the market, bearing the 4L80E automatic transmission. This included the Silverado, Sierra, Suburban, Hummer H1, etc.

The 4L80E automatic transmission is by no means perfect and has its share of glitches. However, it became a huge success and continued to be enhanced throughout its production span, even with extra changes entering when required.

In 2002, the 4L85 automatic transmission entered the market. A few differences between this transmission and the 4L80E include a 5-pinion reaction gearset, a 5-pinion output gearset, etc.

GM specified a brand-new automatic transmission fluid formulation in 2006, though this development was not regarded as a transmission change. The company required this fluid formulation’s warranty in the 4L80E series. Dexron VI, another brand, highly superseded its previous transmission fluids, claiming that it has significantly improved the transmission performance as well as a more extraordinary fluid life and transmission.

The 4L80E Automatic Transmission Technology

Every 4L80E automatic transmission makes use of electronic controls, which are generally from the Powertrain Control Module. Some vehicles using this automatic transmission come with shift maps that the driver can select, based on usage, including towing, etc. 

Part of the Powertrain Control Module’s strategy includes shift stabilization, which contributes significantly to reducing hunting.

The torque converter – when applied in factories – is heavily controlled via a PWM lock-up solenoid for seamless lock-up action. Despite this, several performance aficionados always prefer to efficiently reprogram the 4L80E automatic transmission in order to run as a very simple, ON-OFF solenoid.

The H1 received a 4L80 along with its dedicated T42 transmission computer in 2004. This automatic transmission also arrived with a considerably enhanced Park/Neutral safety switch and modified transmission line pressure solenoid. Other General Motors applications are still going to follow soon.

The TCM (Transmission Control Module) refers to the highly adaptive learning computer smartly integrated within the transmission valve body. It communicates efficiently with the Engine Control Module through the onboard vehicle CAN bus network. 

This is a departure from – and a return to – preceding automotive control systems within the industry. This is because the earlier versions of electronic transmissions made use of a separate control module. This module was later integrated right into the Engine Control Module and is now known as the ‘Power Control Modules.’

But now, this high-speed CAN network permits an incredibly high rate of data sharing between these units. This occurs in order to reach a collaboration between transmission and engine functions.

Since the 4L80E automatic transmissions are – on certain occasions – used in conversion applications with the earlier non-PCM-controlled engines, GM as well as aftermarket control modules are necessary. And they are now used to control the operation or function of the transmission in these specific scenarios.

The Specifications of the 4L80E Automatic Transmission

When you see the nomenclature of the 4L80E, it readily informs users that this is a longitudinally-mounted, 4-speed transmission designed for vehicles that weigh nothing less than 8000 lbs. The 4L80E has an RPO code – i.e. ‘MT1’ – manufactured domestically in GM’s Willow Run and Ypsilanti plants.

Here are the 4L80E ratios it features in each gear:

  • First: 2.48
  • Second: 1.48
  • Third: 1.00
  • Fourth: 075
  • Reverse 2.07

The maximum output torque of the 4L80E transmission is 885 ft. lbs.  while the top engine input torque is 440 ft. lbs. Die-cast aluminum is the transmission’s case. And it was designed for vehicles that weigh up to 8,000 lbs. GVWR as well as with engines up to 440 ft. lbs. of torque.

However, the 4L85 was primarily designed for automobiles that weigh up to 16,500 lbs. GVWR as well as with engines up to 460 ft. lbs. of torque. This transmission has an incredible towing capacity as it was up-rated to 22,000 lbs.

The 4L80E series requires a shifter with a 7-position quadrant: P, R, N, OD, D, 2, 1. The torque converter on this automatic transmission is a fluid turbine drive, much like those found on its predecessors, e.g., the 700R4, 4L60, TH350C.

The 4L80E also comes with a lock-up pressure plate for direct, mechanically-coupled driving from the engine crank. It is 26¼ inches long and boasts a 310mm torque converter.

Applications of the 4L80E Transmission

The 4L80E automatic transmission has several applications, such as:

  • Speed sensing
  • Transfer case adaptability
  • Jeep conversions
  • Engine compatibility


By now, you already know that the 4L80E automatic transmission is intelligently designed to meet transmission challenges. This implemented automatic transmission from the legendary General Motors has an extraordinary record in conversion situations and will always leave you super-impressed.

Sports Cars That Are Faster with an Automatic Performance Transmission

The Rise of Hybrid High-Performance Transmissions

Some luxury cars with automatic transmission include the Lexus ISF, BMW M4/M5, Audi S6/S8, and Porsche Panamera, to mention a few. Since there are two basic forms of transmission, many people have imagined reasons most high-horsepower and high-performance supercars of this nature are automatic only. A surge of uncertainty is always sparked among car lovers whether they should purchase a manual supercar or an automatic, which seems to be the latest fad.

We will clarify the variations between manual and automatic cars and why they have recently become more common. In contrast, they have abandoned the former and could soon become extinct in the automotive industry. According to reports, they used manual transmissions in 3.9 percent of new cars sold in the United States in 2013, while they found automatic transmissions in 67 percent of 2013 model-year vehicles.

Why are Most High-Performance Cars Automatic?

Almost all high-performance vehicles, sleek drives, supercars, or whatever name you can give to them are automatic only. When one considers the following list of the best sports cars with automatic transmissions, the argument above rings true:

Nissan GRT

Although the Nissan GTR was introduced in 2007, it still looks modern on the outside, with traditional Japanese muscle car styling. The 3.8-liter turbocharged engine, which produces 600hp and propels the GTR to 60mph in 2.48 seconds, is legendary. The all-wheel-drive system keeps the wheels from spinning, and the 6-speed automatic transmission makes fast, smooth shifts when required.

Koenigsegg Jesko

Koenigsegg has never made a vehicle that goes slower than 245 mph, and the Jesko, which was introduced in 2019 and is capable of 278 mph, continues the company’s supercar tradition. One of the most powerful engines ever fitted to a road car, with output ranging from 1281 to 1600 horsepower depending on fuel type. They considered the Jesko too quick for a manual transmission, so Koenigsegg installed a custom 9-speed automatic transmission instead. In 1.9 seconds, it speeds up from a standstill to 62 mph. The automatic transmission on Koenigsegg moves quicker than the driver can keep up with.

Audi TT RS

Audi’s 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox is one of the best modern transmissions. It can be controlled manually, but leaving it automatically and engaging gear control is more accessible. The TT RS is powered by a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine that produces 394 horsepower and accelerates 62 mph in 3.6 seconds.

AMG GT C Roadster

The fresh air driving with a big strong V8 under the bonnet makes the Mercedes-Benz GT C roadster fascinating. While it is classified as having an automatic transmission, owners can change manually. With a 550hp double-turbo engine and a 7-speed double-clutch transmission that shifts swiftly than in a manual system, this car provides effortless output.

McLaren 620R

They built the 620R to be a road-legal GT4 race car without sacrificing its track heritage, with 610hp driving top speed to over 200mph.

It was obvious early in the testing process that choosing a manual transmission would cause slower lap times. McLaren’s inertia push technology and the 620R’s 7-speed SSG transmission were combined to achieve a 0-62mph time of 2.9 seconds.

A few reasons for the popularity of automatic supercars include:


For automatic transmissions, the only concern for a manufacturer is how quickly the car can be assembled.

Lexus, for example, first showed a car that could turn gears in 10 milliseconds before reducing it to 5 milliseconds. Lexus now says that its car will provide anything similar to, if not identical, lightning strikes or hummingbird wing flaps. If this is taken into account, it satisfies the need of the first class of users for something fast, wrapped up in an automated design.

Apart from Lexus, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, and McLaren have all taken to automatic transmissions and use them instead of a stick shift in their new models.

Cost of Design

The cost of developing an automatic car can be comparable to that of some manual cars, which has drawn manufacturers’ attention. Similarly, you might have found that certain manual cars in the same range cost the same as an automatic.

As a result, car manufacturers have targeted the first class of consumers because designing an automated car in the first place is less costly (sometimes) while still promising a smoother ride.

Manual and Automatic Transmission in Cars

Manual and automatic transmissions are the two primary methods of transmission used in automobiles. The system used to change gears is the major difference between automatic and manual transmissions. When you turn in an automatic, the car switches gear, while manual cars allow you to shift between gears using a clutch and gas pedals.

Regardless, all modes of transmission help transfer engine power to the drive axle, but in different ways.

How to choose the best Type of Transmission that Suit Your Needs

I will compare the manual and automatic transmissions side by side in this segment to show you where one fails, the other compensates.

1. Mode of Operations

A manual transmission promises to give you more power over your vehicle because you can maneuver it in as many ways as you see fit. You can downshift, slow down, or even stop the vehicle, and there’s a feeling that this allows some of the engine’s power to be transferred to the drive wheels, which may help you accelerate more quickly.

Alternatively, an automatic transmission that does most of the work for you allows you to concentrate more on the lane. If you’re stuck in traffic that moves slowly, stops, and then moves again, you’re less likely to get tired quickly.

2. Cost of maintenance

A manual car would undoubtedly be less expensive than an automatic vehicle, and its maintenance costs will be lower because of its simpler technology. However, remember you might need to change the clutch occasionally, which will cost you a few bucks.

Despite being faster and more convenient to drive, an automatic car has a higher maintenance cost. If there is ever a need for it, more sophisticated equipment and machinery would necessitate a high degree of knowledge and an additional expense.

3. Ease of Usage

Many who prefer an automatic car to a manual car attribute their decision to its ease of use. While driving a car with a manual transmission is easy, driving one with an automatic transmission is simpler because your limbs do not have to get used to shifting gears and clutching.

When negotiating steep inclines, less skilled drivers face a certain difficulty. With an automatic vehicle, the latter might be the least of your concerns because you can easily go up and down a slope.

Final Words

While manual cars were popular a century ago, ever-changing technological trends are heading toward the automated realm, where things are done more easily and quickly to improve people’s productivity. After taking a closer look at the manual and automatic transmission systems for the car segment, be able to make an informed decision about whether you want a manual or automatic supercar.