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Chevy Tahoe Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Chevy Tahoe Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids

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

The 1995 – 2000 Tahoe has a 4-speed 4L60-E, 4L80-E, or 5-speed ZF S-5 42 transmission. The 2000 – 2006 has the 4-speed 4L60-E. The 2007 – 2014 Tahoe has a 4L60-E, a 6-speed 6L80, or a 4-speed CVT 2ML70. The 2015 – 2019 Tahoe has a 6-speed 6L80, and the 2021 – present Tahoe has a 10-speed Hydra-Matic 10L80.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Below we first outline all the generations of the Tahoe 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!

Also read: Types Of Gas A Chevy Tahoe Uses (Explained)

What Transmissions Has The Chevy Tahoe Used?

First Generation (1995 – 2000)

  • 4-speed 4L60E automatic
  • 4-speed 4L80E automatic
  • 5 speed ZF S5-42 Manual

Second Generation (2000 – 2006)

  • 4-speed 4L60-E automatic

Third Generation (2007 – 2014)

  • 4-speed 4L60-E automatic
  • 6-speed 6L80 automatic
  • 4-speed automatic CVT 2ML70

Fourth Generation (2015 – 2019)

  • 6-speed 6L80 automatic

Fifth Generation (2021 – Present)

  • 10-speed Hydra-Matic 10L80 automatic

How Long Does A Chevy Tahoe Transmission Last?

How many miles the transmission of a Chevy Tahoe can last depends on the kind of transmission that you have in your car. A Chevy Tahoe with a 4L60-E, 4L80-E, and 6L80 are fairly reliable and should last you the lifetime of the car (between 220,000 – 300,000 miles). The ZF S-5 42 and the CVT 2ML70 have some common problems that normally occur within the first 100,000 miles and need to be addressed. Otherwise, the transmission will fail. The 10L80 should last you the lifetime of the car but hasn’t been tested properly yet.

Also read: How Many Miles Can A Chevy Tahoe Last? (Answered)

How Much Does A Chevy Tahoe Transmission Cost?

If you’re looking to replace the transmission of your Tahoe, 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 Tahoe, and we’ve attached prices that we found with online retailers:

  • 4-speed 4L60-E automatic: $1,795
  • 4-speed 4L80-E automatic: $2,031
  • 5-speed ZF S5-42: $1,295
  • CVT 2ML70: $3,000
  • 6-speed 6L80 automatic: $3,899
  • 10-speed Hydra-Matic 10L80 MF6 automatic: $5,700

Common Chevy Tahoe Transmission Problems

4L60-E

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, Chevy Avalanche, and the Chevy Colorado. 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.

4L80-E

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.

ZF S5-42

The ZF S5-42 is, as people on several forums describe it, the loudest transmission they’ve ever had. In total, there can be eleven different reasons why the ZF S5-42 is making noises. Sometimes the dual-mass flywheel was replaced by a single-mass flywheel which will initiate rattling of the transmission. However, there are many other cases in which the flywheel is not the problem. In the image below, you’ll see what noise problems this transmission has and what causes it.

CVT 2ML70

The CVT 2ML70 is a reliable transmission, although it has one common flaw. That’s that the auxiliary fluid pump isn’t able to keep fluid pressures quick enough once the car comes to a complete stop (and the engine shuts off due to the start/stop system). This pump is responsible for keeping fluid pressure and keeping the clutch in gear. Because it doesn’t kick in in time, the clutch can engage with the gears when it shouldn’t. This causes jerking of the transmission together with clunking noises.

6L80

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.

10L80

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.

Also read: What Is The Oil Type, Capacity, And Weight Of A Chevy Tahoe?

Differences Between Transmissions

The 4L80-E is a 4-speed automatic and weighs around 254 pounds without transmission fluid. It can handle 440 lb/ft and has a Gross Vehicle Weight of 8,000 pounds.

The ZF S5-42 is a 5-speed manual and weighs around 175 pounds without transmission fluid. It can handle 420 lb/ft and a GVW of 8,500 pounds.

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 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 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.

Transmission Fluids And The Chevy Tahoe

Suppose you want to make sure that the transmission of your Tahoe 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 Tahoe 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:

Sources:

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