DIY Performance Modifications For Your 4L60E Automatic Transmission Equipped Corvette

Posted by on Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

The 4L60E  automatic transmission is a very popular four-speed made by General Motors. It is heavily based off of one of GM’s first automatic overdrive transmissions - the 700R4. The main difference between the two is that the 4L60E is a full electronically controlled transmission while the 700R4 is not. The 4L60E transmission can be found in the 1994 through 2004 C5 and C6 Chevrolet Corvettes.

The 1994 - 2004 Corvette came equipped with the 4L60E automatic transmission


When the engineers designed the 4L60E for the Corvette, they felt the need to make sure its performance characteristics appealed to the widest range of potential new customers. While great for overall Corvette sales, it left the 4L60E from reaching its full performance limit. Let’s take a look at a few cool DIY accessories that you can install to improve the performance of your 4L60E transmission.

Shift kit: A shift kit will have by far the most noticeable effect on the performance of your transmission. A shift kit is one of the more advanced skilled DIY modifications, but with a little time and patience almost anyone can install one. Only basic hand tools are required with the exception of a torque wrench.

A shift kit is one of the first performance upgrades you should make to your 4L60E automatic transmission


Shift kits will provide a performance boost to your transmission by reducing the time it takes to fully apply the clutches and bands. This will result in lower quarter mile and track times. It will also help reduce excessive heat buildup and premature wear. A shift kit will also give you more manual control of your 4L60E transmission, allowing you to hold it in one gear longer or downshift at any time to provide engine braking.  A hand held computer tuner can also be used to supplement a shift kit.

Performance torque converter:  Performance torque converters usually come with higher stall speeds than their stock cousins. This allows you to launch your Corvette at higher RPM’s, where the motor is making more power. This helps reduce your track times. A performance torque converter should also include furnace brazed impeller and turbine fins, an anti-balloon plate and hardened drive tube. When upgrading your torque converter, don’t forget to upgrade your flex plate to one that carries an SFI safety rating. Installation of both the torque converter and SFI flex plate will require removal of the transmission for your Corvette.

A good performance 4L60E torque converter will include furnace brazed fins and an anit-balloon plate


Aftermarket transmission cooler: If you’re going to race your Corvette, you must install an aftermarket transmission cooler. This is especially true if you install a higher stall speed torque converter. Ideally you want to keep your 4L60E below 200 degrees. For every 20 degrees you go above this limit you risk reducing the lifespan of the transmission by a factor of two. There are hundreds of different transmission coolers on the market, with some designed specifically to fit your corvette.

Sooner or later, due to high mileage or abuse, you will be faced with a decision to replace the 4L60E in your Chevy Corvette.  You can go with a rebuilt transmissions or one that was re-manufactured. I highly recommend doing so with a re-manufactured transmission over one that was simply rebuilt. A re-manufactured transmission will include major internal modifications and upgrades designed to make it both stronger and more durable. A rebuilt transmission will not include this feature. A re-manufactured transmission also comes with a much better warranty; three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission. In the rare event that you need to contact the company that re-manufactures transmissions, they are just a quick phone call or email away!

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