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The 4L80E transmission was first introduced in 1991 and served as a replacement for the TH400 transmission. A few of the new features added with the 4L80E in comparison to its predecessor were electronic controls, overdrive capability, and a lock-up torque converter.
The 4L80E was created by General Motors under the Hydramatic name. This transmission was used in the heavier duty applications for virtually all GMC and Chevrolet truck applications. That includes the Suburban, Tahoe, and even the Avalanche.
Why the 4L80E Transmission Replaced the TH400
The 4L80E transmission was similar to 4L60 transmission except that it was made for heavier loads. The 4L60 was introduced as a replacement sooner than the 4L80E was introduced, primarily due to the robustness of its predecessor.
That being said, it finally became imperative to upgrade the TH400, and that was the introduction of the 4L80E which happened in 1991.
The transmissions were available in a wide number of platforms for 22 years before finally being replaced in 2013.
This transmission was popular for many reasons, but some of the key were its durability, improved fuel consumption thanks to its overdrive gear, and the ability to handle more torque and therefore be paired with higher powered engine.
The 4L80E is not without problems though, as hard shifts and losing the reverse gear are some of the most common problems reported from this transmission.
4L80E Performance Specs
The 4L80E is a manual transmission that has a maximum engine input torque of 440 lb-ft and is capable of providing an output torque of up to 885 lb-ft. Many of the other specifications can be gathered by deciphering the name.
From 4L80E, the 4 indicates that the transmission has 4 gears. The L serves to show that the transmission is longitudinally oriented. The 80 represents that the transmission is capable of handling GVWR up to 8000 pounds. A similar transmission is the 4L85E, and it is capable of handling GVW as high as 16,500 pounds. Finally, the E in the name indicates that this transmission is electronically controlled and actuated.
This transmission, in comparison to its slightly lighter duty counterpart, the 4L60E, has a smaller band of gear ratios. The gear ratios are 2.48 for first gear, 1.48 for second, 1.00 for third, and 0.75 for fourth. The reverse gear has a gear ratio of 2.07.
The materials of this transmission are quite similar to the other Hydramatic transmissions, with the outer casing being made of cast aluminum. This transmission is different from the 4L60E, in that the bell-housing is integrated and can’t be removed. The transmission has a total length of 26 1/4 inches.
This transmission is significantly heavier than the 4L60E with a dry weight of 254 pounds. The normal transmission fluid required for this transmission is 6.8 quarts. Another feature of this transmission is the cooling ports that allow for transmission oil coolers to be used.
The 4L80E transmission was introduced in 1991 and remained in production until 2013. The 22 years of usage is a testament to its robustness and strength. This was used in almost all GM truck platforms during this time in addition to being in some luxury rear wheel drive cars.
The transmission is designed to handle up to 8000 lbs GVWR, which handles all but the heaviest of heavy duty applications. This transmission does come with quite an extra load, as the dry weight of 254 pounds is significantly heavier than the 4L60E that was used in the lighter duty applications.