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Chevy Colorado Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Chevy Colorado Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

On this blog, we’ve already done extensive research on several Chevrolets and their transmissions. Today, we will talk about the four generations of the Chevy Colorado and give you an overview of what transmissions are actually used in this vehicle. First, a quick answer:

The 2003 – 2012 Chevy Colorado has a 4-speed 4L60-E automatic and a 5-speed Aisin AR-5 manual. The 2012 – present Colorado has a 6-speed Eaton N8D manual, a 6-speed 6L50 automatic, and an 8-speed 8L45 automatic.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Below we first outline all the generations of the Colorado and explain which transmissions have been used with each generation. After that, we’ll talk about how long these transmissions last and the cost of replacing them. Finally, we’ll look into the common problems of each type of transmission.

What Transmissions Has The Chevy Colorado Used?

First Generation (2003 – 2012)

  • 5-speed Aisin AR-5 manual
  • 4-speed 4L60-E automatic

Second Generation (2012 – Present)

  • 6-speed manual Eaton N8D
  • 6-speed automatic 6L50
  • 8-speed automatic 8L45

How Long Does A Chevy Colorado Transmission Last?

How long the transmission of a American-made Chevy Colorado lasts depends on the kind of transmission that you have in the car. The Aisin AR-5, Eaton N8D, and 4L60-E are reliable transmissions that should last between 220.000 – 280.000 miles when maintained properly. The 6L50 and the 8L45 both have problems with premature wear, and some of them don’t last longer than 100.000 miles before they need to be replaced.

How Much Does A Chevy Colorado Transmission Cost?

If you’re looking to replace the transmission of your Colorado, then you’re most likely also interested in knowing how much your particular transmission costs. Below we’ve outlined the specific transmissions that are used in the production span of the Colorado, and we’ve attached prices that we found with online retailers:

  • 5-speed Aisin AR-5 manual: $1,555 (on Ebay)
  • 4-speed 4L60-E automatic: $1,795
  • 6-speed manual Eaton N8D: $899 (on Ebay)
  • 6-speed automatic 6L50: $2,995
  • 8-speed automatic 8L45: $1,450 (on Ebay)

Common Chevy Colorado Transmission Problems

Aisin AR-5

The Aisin AR-5 is a transmission that’s quite reliable, and not many problems have been attributed to it. The only recurring problem is as follows:

  • Car won’t shift into fourth gear anymore. Normally caused by worn synchronizers that need to be replaced.


The 4L60-E is a transmission that’s good or bad, depending on the vehicle that you own. We already reviewed this transmission in the Silverado 1500 and the Chevy Avalanche. Expect the following possible symptoms:

  • Problems with shifting into 3rd gear whereas the car acts like it’s in neutral. The problem here is 3/4th gear clutch pack failure. You’ll need new pistons and a clutch pack to replace this.
  • You lost your second or reverse gear. In this case we’re talking about a broken drive shell which will need to be replaced.
  • Problems with shifting into 2nd gear with a possible ‘check-engine’ light. Problem here is a worn TCC regulator valve that causes the converter clutch to slip.

Eaton N8D

Very little to say here. Most consumers who drive this 6-speed manual transmission say that it’s bulletproof and don’t experience any problems. Of course, the only thing is that this is, of course, a manual transmission which makes its resale value in the United States a difficult topic to talk about.


The 6L50 is one of the worst transmissions that the Chevy Colorado has. It actually became the subject of a lawsuit because of the following problems:

  • Premature wear and tear of the transmission parts in general which cause complete transmission failure.
  • Shaking and shuddering
  • Hard shifting

Many of these problems are solved by members of different forums by flushing the transmission fluid three times in a specific order. Still, not a good look for the 6L50.


Just like the 6L50, the 8L45 is also part of a lawsuit together with the 8L90. This is because of the following problems:

  • Excessive shuddering
  • Hard shifting from first to second and second to first.

Like the 6L50, the problem seems to be fixed by flushing the transmission fluid. If that doesn’t fix the issue, the torque converter is most likely the cause of the problem and needs to be replaced. You can also dive deeper into the 8-speed transmission shutter in this video:

Differences Between Transmissions

Now that you know what kind of problems the transmissions have, it’s also important to consider the main differences (and which one is therefore considered better or worse). While things like the fuel type or bolt pattern don’t change much between generations of the Colorado, the transmission certainly does.

Below we’ve outlined several key features of every transmission.

The Aisin AR-5 is a 5-speed manual transmission and weighs around 107 pounds without transmission fluid. It can handle a total of 260 lb/ft and unknown gross vehicle weight.

The 4L60-E is a relatively lightweight 4-speed automatic and weighs around 133 pounds without transmission fluid. It can handle 360 lb/ft and a GVW of 6,000 pounds.

The Eaton N8D is a 6-speed manual and can handle 200 lb/ft.

The 6L50 is a 6-speed automatic and weighs around 170 pounds without transmission fluid. It can handle a total of 480 lb/ft and has a GVW of 6,613 pounds.

The 8L45 is an 8-speed automatic that weighs around 170 pounds without transmission fluid. GM hasn’t provided an lb/ft rating for this transmission, but it’s the 8L45 MU5 (the upgraded version of this transmission) has 738 lb/ft.

Transmission Fluids And The Chevy Colorado

Suppose you want to make sure that the transmission of your Colorado lasts as long as it can last, then you’ll need to take care of it. As a general rule of thumb, Chevrolet advises you to change the transmission fluid of your Colorado every 45,000 miles. However, what type of transmission fluid you should use depends on the transmission that you have. Below we’ve created an overview of the TF’s that are recommended for each transmission:

  • Aisin AR-5: Acdelco Synchromesh MTF
  • 4L60-E / 6L50 / 8L45: Dexron VI


In summary, the Chevy Colorado, throughout its generations, has employed a variety of transmissions. Each generation has its unique characteristics and complexities when it comes to transmission longevity, replacement costs, and common issues. Understanding these aspects can help you make an informed decision, whether you’re considering buying a Chevy Colorado or looking to maintain your current vehicle.

As we have highlighted, the story doesn’t end with transmissions.

For those interested in the Chevy Colorado’s diesel variations, we’ve also written about the common issues that face the 2016 diesel generation. By educating yourself about your vehicle’s specifics, you can enhance your driving experience and extend the longevity of your vehicle. If that sounds too fancy for you, it’s also just plain fun to learn about cars, right?


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