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GMC Envoy Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids

GMC Envoy Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids

The GMC Envoy is a midsize SUV that General Motors produced. The GMC Envoy was a midsize SUV sold by the GMC division of General Motors from 1998 to the 2009 model years. It was introduced in 1998.

All GMC Envoys manufactured between 1998 and 2008 are equipped with a 4L60E and 4L65E transmissions. All GMC Envoys manufactured between 1998 and 2008 are equipped with 4L60E and 4L65E transmissions, while those produced from 2009 until the model’s discontinuation in 2009 feature a more advanced 6L80 transmission.

The GMC Envoy often faces transmission issues, including gear slippage, difficulty shifting, and erratic behavior. Overheating and failure to engage are also common problems. In some cases, the transmission may fail completely, requiring costly replacements. These issues can be due to poor maintenance, defective parts, or design flaws. Preventive maintenance can help mitigate these issues.

Whenever you have to buy something, you would always want to know what you’re investing in. So, this article will make things easier for you by providing you with the details regarding transmissions different models use, their differences, prices, and fluids.

How Long Does a GMC Envoy Transmission Last?

With proper maintenance, it can last from 150,000 to over 400,000 miles. Without adequate maintenance, You will likely get between 75,000 to 100,000 out of it. To properly take care of the Envoy, You should follow the recommended maintenance schedule for the vehicle, which should be listed in the owner’s manual.

How Much Does a GMC Envoy Transmission Cost?

Being familiar with prices makes it easy for you to decide whether you want to buy a new transmission or a used one. Here we have stated estimated prices of new transmission for your GMC Envoy transmissions so that you can make an informed decision without wasting your time:

  • 4L60-E transmissions costs around $1,795
  • 4L65E transmissions costs around $1,799

How Reliable Is A GMC Envoy’s Transmission?

With such a long lifespan, it’s fair to say that the Envoy has a pretty respectable reputation when it comes to its transmission system. The 4L60E automatic transmission used in most Envoys is one of General Motors’ longstanding designs.

Overall, the GMC Envoy’s 4L60E transmission generally shows good reliability but earlier models (2002-2004) had issues, notably harsh shifts and clutch pack failure. Later models (2005-2012) saw improvements. Similar problems occur in other GM vehicles using the 4L60E but regular maintenance and fluid changes improve longevity.

Early GMC Envoys (2002-2004) experienced some transmission-related issues. Users reported problems like a harsh 1-2 shift and premature transmission failure. Many of these issues were traced back to the 3-4 clutch pack, often due to overheating.

This is a classic symptom of a 4L60E on the fritz and you can see similar problems in other vehicles that use the 4L60E which include everything from similar-sized SUVs like the Chevy Trailblazer or GMC Yukon to trucks like the Chevy Avalanche.

Some owners also reported issues with the torque converter clutch (TCC) solenoid (another problem you’ll find across several manufacturers thanks to part sourcing). If you’re looking at one of these older models, I’d recommend checking the service history for any signs of these problems.

Moving onto the 2005-2009 models, they showed improved reliability due to revised shift solenoids and valve bodies. GM also implemented an improved oiling design to better lubricate the 3-4 clutch pack, reducing the chance of it overheating and failing.

That being said, these models can still experience issues if they’re not regularly serviced or if the vehicle has been used to tow heavy loads, which can stress the transmission.

The late model years (2010-2012) are generally more reliable, as GMC refined the design and worked out many of the early kinks. However, keep in mind that, like any vehicle, reliability can be influenced by factors like previous owner maintenance habits and driving conditions.

Regardless of the year, maintaining the Envoy’s transmission is crucial. Regular fluid changes with the right ATF, preferably a Dexron VI, can make a huge difference in the longevity of the transmission. Also, be wary of issues like slipping gears, delayed engagement, and hard shifts, as these can be telltale signs of a transmission in need of repair.

Common GMC Envoy Transmission Problems

No Reverse

One of the most common 4L60E transmission problems is the complete failure to engage reverse. There are many potential sources of this problem, which are ultimately brought on as the miles increase. The first culprit could be the low reverse clutch pack, where the disks are too worn out to engage reverse gear.

If this is the case, you will likely see metal shavings in the transmission fluid when you remove the transmission pan. Or the problem could be coming from the valve body, which could mean that warping occurred due to excessive heat, or the reverse circuit has failed.

Also, inspect the piston bore for scraping and score marks. This type of wear can lead to future reliability issues. So smooth out the bore with an emery cloth, then remove the excess dust/debris with Brake Cleaner.

Harsh or Delayed 1–2 Shift

If your 4L60E transmission is pausing between first and second gear, it could be due to a worn or broken 2–4 transmission band. The steel 4L60E 2-4 transmission band is lined with a friction material that helps it to engage the clutch drum and execute the gear change.

As that material wears away, the band will slip on the drum and delay the shift or cause it to fall between the two gears. This is a common problem on higher mileage vehicles.

This issue can also be caused by a faulty Throttle Position Sensor/TPS. With the ignition in the ‘On’ position, you can test the 4L60E TPS using a voltmeter. The voltage should increase/decrease in a smooth, linear line as you move the TPS if it is working. To find the correct voltage readings for your vehicle, refer to the shop manual.

Shudder When Shifting From 1st to 2nd

Another common problem is when it either ‘slams’ into second gear or doesn’t seem to want to shift into second, and the engine revs.

Take a look at the 1-2 accumulator. This little shock absorber-like device lives inside the valve body and dampens the excess fluid pressure that builds after a gear change. If the little plastic piston or the spring inside of it breaks, you’ll feel the fluid pressure buildup as the transmission sort of jerks itself into gear. If left unrepaired, this problem will eventually cause severe damage to the clutches and clutch drum assembly.


Following are some of the problems one might face with 4L65E transmission.

● One may experience an unusually harsh 1-2 shift

● Loss of reverse, second and fourth gears. The first and third gears will seem to function normally.

● No movement when the transmission is shifted into Drive or the 3rd gear position. It is possible to experience regular operation when the transmission shifts into second, first, or reverse.

● The vehicle might be stuck in third gear. The instrument cluster may not function.

Difference Between Transmissions

Although the two transmissions have a similar name and share cases and some parts, they are different. In 2001, the 4L60E became the 4L65E when GM upgraded some vital internal parts that were failing behind the increasingly powerful Gen III power plant.

The improved transmission utilized a stronger five-pinion rear planetary and a hardened input shaft and sun shell, increasing its torque capacity to 380 lb-ft. The nice thing about all of this is that the modern parts are easily swapped into the 4L60E, leaving you with the ability to upgrade your existing tranny without having to buy a new unit.

The 4L60E is an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission, and It weighs 133 pounds without transmission fluid. It uses a 6.5″ depth bell with six bolts for non-gen 3 LS applications and a 7″ depth bell with seven bolts for LS applications.

The 4L60E has different input shafts and torque converters from the 4L65E. 4L60E uses a 298mm input shaft for non-LS and a 300mm input shaft for LS applications.

The 4L65E is a 4-speed electronically controlled transmission, and it weighs 194.6 pounds. It shares the same exterior parts but has stronger internals, such as five pinion planets, than four in the 4L60E. The 4L65E/70E uses a 7″ depth bell and seven bolts. It uses a 300mm input shaft and converter designed for LS applications only.

Transmission Fluids and the GMC Envoy

Transmissions need fluid to lubricate and cool their internal parts. You need to stay updated on routine maintenance such as transmission fluid change to keep your ride fun. According to some technicians, between 30,000 and 60,000 miles is a reasonable timeframe for having your GMC’s transmission fluid checked and replaced. Still, that timeline can vary depending on how your vehicle is used and your manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • 4L65E is compatible with Dexron 3
  • 4L60-E is compatible with Dexron VI


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