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 Silverado 2500 and 3500 and give you an overview of what transmissions are actually used in this vehicle. First, a quick answer:
The 1998 – 2007 Silverado 2500 / 3500 has a 4- or 5-speed automatic or manual transmission. The 2007 – 2013 Silverado 2500 / 3500 has a 4- or 6-speed automatic and a 4-speed transmission for the hybrid. Between 2013 – 2018 the Silverado had a 6- or 8-speed automatic. The fourth-generation has either a 6-, 8- or 10 speed automatic.
So it’s important to know what you’re up against.
Below we first outline all the generations of the Silverado 2500 and 3500 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. Read on!
What Transmissions Has The Chevy Silverado 2500/3500 Used
You’ll find plenty of overlap between the Silverado and other larger vehicles, including those from different manufacturers. For example, you’ll find the same 4-speed 4L60-E automatic transmission in vehicles like Chevy’s Colorado or GMC’s Yukon.
First Generation (1998 – 2007)
- 4-speed 4L60-E automatic
- 4-speed 4L65-E automatic
- 4-speed 4L80-E automatic
- 5-speed NV3500 manual
- 5-speed NV4500 manual
Second Generation (2007 – 2013)
4-speed 4L60-E automatic
4-speed “2-Mode Hybrid transmission” 2ML70 (Hybrid)
6-speed 6L80 automatic
Third Generation (2013 – 2018)
- 6-speed 6L80 automatic
- 8-speed 8L90 automatic
Fourth Generation (2018 – Present)
- 6-speed MYC Automatic (2019-2021)
- 8-speed 8L90 automatic
- 10-speed Hydra-Matic 10L80 MF6 automatic
How Long Does A Chevy Silverado 2500 / 3500 Transmission Last?
Chevrolet Silverado 2500’s are know to have quite a few problems (we’ll talk about that later on). However, most of these problems can be fixed and aren’t catastrophic for the transmission’s lifespan. Furthermore, Chevy Silverado’s are still very reliable trucks which also means the transmission normally matches the car’s lifespan. You can expect the transmission of a Chevy Silverado 2500/3500 to last between 200,000 – 300,000 miles.
How Much Does A Chevy Silverado 2500 / 3500 Transmission Cost?
If you’re looking to replace the transmission of your Silverado 2500 or 3500, 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 2500 /3500, and we’ve attached prices that we found with online retailers:
- 4-speed 4L60-E automatic: $1,795
- 4-speed 4L65-E automatic: $1,795
- 4-speed 4L80-E automatic: $2,031
- 5-speed NV3500 manual: $2,000
- 5-speed NV4500 manual: $1,926
- 4-speed “2-Mode Hybrid transmission” 2ML70: $1,749
- 6-speed 6L80 automatic: $3,899
- 8-speed 8L90 automatic: $5,894
- 10-speed Hydra-Matic 10L80 MF6 automatic: $5,700
Common Chevy Silverado 2500 or 3500 Transmission Problems
Chevy Silverado’s and its transmissions are known to have quite a few problems and it’s actually the most common problem their cousin, the Silverado 1500. However, transmission issues aren’t the primary problems with most 2500 or 3500 Silverados.
Below we’ve outlined the most common ones that you should look out for.
The 4L60-E is a transmission that’s good or bad, depending on the vehicle that you own. If you happen to have a Silverado 1500 with a bad transmission, then you can expect the following 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.
The 4L65-E is an upgraded version of the 4L60-E. Compared to the 4L60-E, the 65-E is designed to take on higher levels of stress. Therefore it’s also more reliable than the 60-E, and there are very few reported problems. One thing that does come up here and there is the wide gear ratio between first (3.06:1) and second (1.62:1) gear. This makes for a rough transition.
The 4L80-E is not a transmission with many problems. However, there are some things that you should look out for:
- Irregular shifting: sometimes a throttle position sensor or input/output speed sensor fails on the transmission which causes it to develop erratic shifting.
- Overheating: overheating is another symptom that can sometimes occur (especially when towing heavy loads). The only thing you can do here is make sure that there’s enough transmission fluid in the transmission. Otherwise, damage may occur to the clutches, seals and valve body.
The NV3500 seems to be a more reliable transmission than the 4L60-E based on the forums we’ve read with owners’ experiences. Common problems are worn synchronizer rings which you’ll recognize if your clutch starts to make a grinding sound and when the transmission starts popping out of gear. Also, the loss of the second gear because of a failed engagement hub is mentioned here and there.
The NV4500 is a heavy-duty variant of the NV3500; just like the 3500, this transmission also has some problems with worn synchronizer rings that need to be replaced. Furthermore, it’s known for eventually having a fifth gear that keeps popping out. In this case, the nut that retains the main shaft of the fifth gear becomes too loose, which means the gear can slip back into the transmission housing.
The 6L80 is another transmission that does have a small list of well-documented problems. These include:
- Vehicle not moving into, not releasing or popping out of the park position.
- Loud rattling noise in reverse
- Transmission not engaging after changing the transmission fluid and filter.
- Moisture gets trapped on the spline which destroys the trans output shaft and transfer case 4-wheel drive unit splines.
Most of these problems are caused by a rod actuator which is known to fail. The last problem is caused by failing O-rings which need to be replaced.
This 8-speed transmission is used in a wide selection of Chevy and GMC vehicles, and therefore there’s also a bunch of problems that have popped up over the years. The most common ones are:
- Hard or abrupt gear changes. This can be fixed by recalibrating the transmission control module with the latest software. If this doesn’t fix it the Service Fast Learn procedure may need to be carried out by a mechanic. If this also doesn’t fix it the valve body will need to be replaced.
- Delay in shifting after shifting from park. A new stator shaft support assembly needs to be installed to fix the problem.
- General shifting problems with code: P0747/P0777/P0797/P2715/P2724. These problems are normally cause by a software bug and updating the software should fix it.
The 10L80 is already a common transmission but hasn’t been on the market that long. Therefore, it’s not very well documented, but a few problems are popping up. These are:
- Transmission fluid leaking from under the car. Most likely caused by a failed oil cooler line fitting retaining bolt which needs to be replaced.
- Harsh/delayed shifting or the transmission being stuck in certain gears. Like the 8L90 this is most likely cause by software problems and an update at the dealer should fix it right away.
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). Things like bolt patterns tend to be similar across generations of the 2500 but that’s the case when it comes to transmission which can vary quite a bit.
Below we’ve outlined several key features of every transmission.
The 4L60-E is a relatively lightweight 4-speed automatic and weighs around 133 pounds without transmission fluid. It can handle 360 ft/lb and a GVW of 6,000 pounds.
The 4L65-E is a lightweight 4-speed automatic and an improved version of the 4L60-E. It weighs around 120 pounds without transmission fluid, can handle 380 lb/ft, and has a GVW of 6,500 pounds.
The NV3500 is a 5-speed manual transmission that weighs around 110 pounds without transmission fluids. It can handle 300 ft/lb and has a GVW of 7,200 pounds.
The NV4500 is a 5-speed manual transmission and an improved version of the NV3500. It weighs around 195 pounds without transmission fluids. It can handle 460 lb/ft and has a GVW of 14,500 pounds.
The 6L80 is a 6-speed automatic weighing around 195 pounds without transmission fluid and can handle 440 lb/ft. It has a GVW of 8,600 pounds.
The 8L90 is an 8-speed automatic that weighs 210 pounds without transmission fluids. It can handle 635 lb/ft and has a GVW of 13,200 pounds.
The 10L80 is a 10-speed automatic that weighs 230 pounds without transmission fluids. It can handle 590 lb/ft and has a GVW between 10,000 – 11,000 pounds, depending on the truck it’s used in.
You can learn more about the 10 speed transmission in this video:
Transmission Fluid And The Chevy Silverado 2500 / 3500
Suppose you want to make sure that the transmission of your Silverado 2500 /3500 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 Silverado 2500/3500 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:
- 4L60-E / 4L65-E / 6L80 / 8L90 : Dexron VI
- NV3500: Mopar NV3500 Manual
- NV4500: ACDelco 75W-85
- 10L80: Dexron Ultra Lower Viscosity
We’ve covered the gamut of transmissions used in the Chevy Silverado 2500 and 3500 over its four generations. These transmissions have evolved over the years, improving the driving experience and capability of this beloved truck.
Diving deeper into Chevy’s range, the Silverado 1500 also presents similar transmission problems, offering a different perspective within the same family. It’s always enlightening to compare the light-duty 1500 model with the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 siblings whether it’s a look at common transmission issues or bolt patterns.
Interestingly, along with mechanical transformations, the fuel requirements of these vehicles have also evolved. Our comprehensive guide to the fuel types used in your Silverado provides another vital piece of the ownership puzzle.
Knowledge, they say, is power. The more you understand about your Chevy, the more equipped you are to ensure it stays on the road, performing at its peak for many years to come. Keep exploring our articles for more insights into your favorite vehicles.
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!