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Chevy Trailblazer 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 three generations of the Chevy Trailblazer and give you an overview of what transmissions are actually used in this vehicle. First, a quick answer:

The 2002 – 2009 Chevy Trailblazer has a 4-speed 4L60-E and 4L70-E automatic transmission. The 2012 – 2020 Trailblazer has a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. The 2021 – present-day Trailblazer makes use of a 9-speed 9T65 automatic or continuously variable transmission.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Below we first outline all the generations of the Trailblazer 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 Trailblazer Used?

First Generation (2002 – 2009)

  • 4-speed 4L60E automatic
  • 4-speed 4L70E automatic

Second Generation (2012 – 2020)

  • 5-speed manual
  • 6-speed automatic

Third Generation (2021 – Present)

  • 9-speed GM Hydra-Matic 9T65 automatic
  • CVT

How Long Does A Chevy Trailblazer Transmission Last?

How long the transmission of a Chevy Trailblazer lasts depends on the transmission that you have. The 4L70-E in the first generation and CVT in the third generation should last the lifetime of the car (between 200,000 – 300,000 miles). The 4L60-E in the first generation and the 9T65 in the third generation are both known to be problematic and may need to be replaced as soon as 100,000 miles.

How Much Does A Chevy Trailblazer Transmission Cost?

If you’re looking to replace the transmission of your Trailblazer, 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 Trailblazer, and we’ve attached prices that we found with online retailers. Not all transmission could be found since Chevy is sometimes unclear about the specific type of transmission that’s used in the car:

  • 4L60-E: $1,795
  • 4L70-E: $3,637
  • 9T65: $1,500 (on Ebay)

Common Chevy Trailblazer Transmission Problems

4L60-E

The 4L60-E is a transmission that’s good or bad, depending on the vehicle that you own. We reviewed this transmission in the Silverado 1500, Chevy Avalanche, Chevy Tahoe, 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.

This Trailblazer transmission was one of the most complained about transmissions. According to CarComplaints, the transmission in the first generation Trailblazer got severe problems around the 100,000 miles mark. The most common solution to this was to rebuild the transmission entirely, costing around $2,260.

4L70-E

There are some cases in which owners mention that they lost 3rd and 4th gear, but those seem rare. There’s also no definite cause for this. Furthermore, the 4L70-E is rarely used in the production of Chevies, and most of the time, you’ll find the 4L60-E.

Second Generation Transmissions

For the second generation Trailblazer, it seems almost impossible to figure out what kind of transmission this actually was. Neither online nor in the owner manuals does Chevy mention the specific model of transmission. Therefore, we weren’t able to find reliable information for the second generation.

9T65

The 9T65 is a transmission that has numerous defects. These include not shifting into 5th to 9th gear and the transmission slipping or not wanting to shift from first to second gear. Slippage, transmission fluid leaking, high-pitched noise when decelerating, and a flashing ‘D’ on the dashboard, which indicates problems with the transmission, are known symptoms.

General Motors (the producer of the 9T65) has started a pilot program that aims to replace the transmission with a new one. They see a minimal point in repairing these transmissions because of the numerous defaults.

CVT

Third-generation front-wheel-drive versions of the Chevy Trailblazer make use of a continuously variable transmission. The CVT version of the Chevy Trailblazer seems to be a lot more reliable than the 9T65. Almost no complaints are known for this particular type of transmission in this car.

Differences Between Transmissions

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 4L70-E is a 4-speed automatic and weighs around 140 pounds without transmission fluid. It can handle 495 lb/ft and is offered in both a two-wheel and four-wheel drive option.

The 5-speed manual used in the second generation of the Chevy Trailblazer can handle 324 lb/ft of torque. The 6-speed automatic in this generation can handle 346 lb/ft of torque.

The 9T65 is a 9-speed automatic with both a two-wheel and all-wheel-drive option. The exact weight of the transmission is unclear, but it’s most likely somewhere between 200 – 220 pounds since the slightly larger 10L80 weighs 230 pounds. The 9T65 can handle 280 lb/ft of torque.

Transmission Fluids And The Chevy Trailblazer

Suppose you want to make sure that the transmission of your Trailblazer 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 Trailblazer 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