How to change the fluid and filter on a 4L60E transmission

How to change the fluid and filter on a 4L60E transmission

Posted on 24. Jan, 2009 by in How To



This article was submitted by Tom Fraley aka MountaineerTom. Thanks Tom!

This guide covers a fluid and filter change on a ‘99 Silverado with the 4L60E deep pan transmission. The deep pans have a portion of the pan that hangs down lower, making in deeper.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 1

I used a NAPA filter kit, p/n 1-9750, which included the filter, seal, and a cork gasket. I don’t prefer the cork gaskets, so I bought a rubber one while I was there. The p/n was 1-7381. Since GM seems to have severely over torqued the drain plugs from the factory, I decided to pick one up from the local dealer. The p/n for the drain plug is 24213991.

The tools needed are:

  • a ratchet (I used all 3/8 drive tools)
  • 15mm socket for the drain plug
  • 13mm socket for the pan bolts
  • 3 inch and/or 6 inch extension
  • universal joint
  • hook type tool to pull the seal out of the transmission housing
  • T40 torx bit for the 2 screws that hold the shift cable bracket to the transmission housing
  • rags and a big drain pan.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 2

I goofed up a little and loosened the pan bolts before removing the shift cable bracket, which made it a little messier. So to make it a little less messy to start with, first remove the 2 torx screws holding the bracket. It just needs to be removed so you have more room to remove the pan. Some have just bent it out of the way, but I preferred to take the screws out and move it out of the way. You have to get at the screws from the top.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 3

If you can, remove the drain plug with the 15mm socket so that the fluid is out when removing the pan. If it won’t come out, just loosen up the bolts on either the front or back side and completely remove all the rest, then you can tip one end of the pan down to drain as much fluid as possible from the pan prior to taking off the transmission housing. It will be a bit messy doing it that way, but it works fine.

Once all the pan bolts are removed, carefully pull the pan off. Be careful and don’t catch it on any parts in the transmission that cold possibly break. Once it’s removed, you’ll be able to see the filter.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 4

Grab the filter and pull it straight down. It may be kind of tough, but it will come out. Be ready for a bunch of fluid to come out too. When the filter is off, you’ll see the seal inside the hole the filter goes into.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 5

The seal on mine was extremely hard to get out. It wouldn’t budge. Some have had luck just pulling it out with a hook type of screwdriver, but I couldn’t get mine to move. I removed as much of the rubber from the seal as I could and then took a triangle shaped file and used it to cut a groove in the inside part of the metal. Be very careful and don’t file into the transmission housing if you do this. Also be careful if using the hook type screwdriver. You don’t want to gouge or scratch the transmission housing. After I filed a little while on it, it weakened it enough that I was able to get it out with the hook.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 6

After the old seal is out, put a little clean fluid on the inside and outside of the new seal. Place it in the transmission housing push it in evenly as far as you can by hand. You can use a socket that is the same diameter as the seal, or use a punch and tap it in evenly around the seal until it is seated in the housing. It’s almost flush with the housing when all the way in. Just look at the original one before you remove it, and install the new one as far as the old one was. Some leave the old seal in because it is so hard to get out, but it’s not recommended. One the seal is in, push the new filter in until it is seated all the way in.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 7

Now you can move to the pan. There is usually a pretty good bit of sludge in the pan and on the magnet. You can see where I run my finger across the magnet. Just pull the magnet of and clean it and the pan up really well. I used some parts cleaner and a clean rag to clean it up with, and then blew it out with some air from an air compressor to make sure there were no small pieces of lint in the pan.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 8

To remove the stuck drain plug, I tried two methods. First I tried using some screw/bolt extractors (I’ve always call them “easy outs”). Start by drilling as small of a hole as possible, then step a couple sizes to make the hole a little bigger each time. Once you get the hole the size you need for your easy out to fit in, clamp the easy out in some vise grips, put the end of the easy out in the hole, hit the top of it with a hammer while you turn the vise grips in a loosening motion.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 8

Those work pretty well, but I happen to break the easy out off in the screw, so I went to plan “B”. I used a Craftsman bolt extractor that fit tightly over the bolt head. You have to tap it on with a hammer to get it to fit tightly. They took a wrench and turned the bolt extractor and it came out with a little force.

4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 9
4L60E Transmission Fluid and Filter Change 10

Reinstall the gasket and pan making sure the gasket is laying flat on the pan, tighten the pan bolts hand tight. When all are hand tight, torque them in a crisscross pattern to 8 foot pound (Haynes manual). You want to crisscross them so the pressure is distributed evenly. Install the drain plug and torque to 13 foot pounds (Haynes manual). Align the shift cable bracket and install the 2 torx screws. The Haynes manual didn’t have a torque for these, so I just snugged them up good and tight.

Next is refilling with transmission fluid. Make sure you use the correct kind. Mine called for Dextron III. Start the engine and let it idle for 5 minutes. Pour in enough fluid to raise the level to the cold mark on the dipstick. Move the shifter all the way to 1 for few seconds, then 2 for few seconds, and so on, until it is in Park. Then check you fluid level again. Add a little at a time until you get to the cold mark. Just be sure you don’t over fill it.

Drive 10 to 15 miles to get the transmission up to normal temperature, move you shifter through all the ranges again, and check your fluid level again to make sure it’s where it should be for the hot reading.

If you do find out that you’ve over filled the transmission, and you are able to remove your drain plug, you can loosen it up and crack it open just enough to let a little fluid drain out. Make sure the transmission fluid is not hot when you do this, or you could get burned. Make sure you go back through your procedures for checking the fluid level again.

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26 Responses to “How to change the fluid and filter on a 4L60E transmission”

  1. Bob

    24. Jul, 2009


    I dont have a reply , I have a question. Does anyone out there have step -by- step instructions and or pics for removing transmission and transfer case for a 2000 S-10 Blazer? should I drop the Transfer case by itself or with the Transmission ? Thank You.

  2. Robert

    23. Nov, 2009


    Thanks for the great write up. It is appreciated.

  3. STEVE

    13. Dec, 2009


    to remove the drain plug I used a 6 point socket and a 1/2 ” air impact ,just a couple of short bursts , it came right out with no damage to the plug . Thanks for the howto much appreciated

  4. Tim

    19. Dec, 2009


    Hey man thanks alot for reassuring me on how to change my differential fluid and trasfer case fluid…I was told by auto zone they didnt stock the the right Diff fluid (auto trac 2) and was allittle worried on doing it myself…And the pictures arrows helped me even more so!!!! Also didnt even know I had a in cabin air filter.( I know my wife BENZ does but not my 05 tahoe Z71…Been working on vehicles for years and the only things that intimmidate me are trannys ands rear diffs.Keep up the great work and detailed pics( maybe start your own website for GM vehicles..lol….I again really appreciate your info…TIM.

  5. Jack Potap

    19. Feb, 2010


    The T40 torx crews that hold the shift cable bracket to the 4L60E transmission on a 99 Chevy Silverado 4X4 are very tight and the torx bit keeps slipping out. Do you have any ideas on how to remove them so I can drop the pan and change the fluid and filter? (I think this type of screw was a very bad choice) How would they do it in a auto shop? Any help is very much appreciated. Thank You, Jack Potap, Eagle Point, Oregon 541-292-3084

  6. Darren N

    19. Mar, 2010


    That metal/rubber seal for the filter… WHAT A PAIN, I had to file it carefully for about an hour (triangle does work best), then I used a **very small precision screw driver (flat)** and a small hammer to delicately hammer/push the seal inward on its edge, so it collapsed a little, actually it sheared on the filing lines (you must weaken it from filing carefully first) then I was able to pull it free, it is possible to remove it without damaging the housing, just take your time!!

  7. Aaron

    06. Apr, 2010


    How much fluid will this take by changing the filter?

  8. Tony

    20. Dec, 2010


    Thank-you for the great description. By far the best on the internet.

    My filter seal was really stuck as well. I ended up using a pick. I hammered it between the seal and the housing. I then bent the seal inwards. I was then able to use a needle nose pliers to further distort and twist the seal out of the transmission. There was one nick at the bottom of the housing, but the new seal seemed to seat very well. Other suggestions I’ve found recommend you use a small flathead screw driver and hammer as well. Once you get over using a hammer on the bottom of your transmission it actually comes out pretty quickly.

  9. Helmut

    29. Dec, 2010


    I left the old seal in. Hope it will be ok.

  10. Mike Pleskovich

    13. May, 2011


    Advance loaned me a pilot bearing puller that worked very well. It consists of two outward-facing hooks that spread out as you turn the pulling screw upward. When the right width is reached, turn the nut on the same screw and it easily pulls the seal out. Be careful to brace the puller squarely against the transmission, and move the plastic thing (sorry) out of the way before cranking down on the nut.

  11. Alex

    07. Jul, 2011


    Whoa! Look easy.. I have a 04 cady cts and don’t have drain plug., so I thinking about take to the dealer but they touldme the go be $189 dollars so u think that I can do that by my self for less money??

  12. chet newman

    08. Aug, 2011


    i could not get the pan out the cross over pipe was in the way . what do i do now, rusty manifold bolts this will be a5 hour job instead of an hour. good luck help!

  13. air compressor reviews

    15. Jan, 2012


    Tremendous things here. I am very happy to see your post. Thanks so much and I’m having a look ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  14. John Gatlin

    24. Feb, 2012


    Thanks for posting this info, this is great info that’s going to help. What size bolt extractor did you use?

  15. Bizarirty

    17. Jun, 2013


    =

  16. Richard

    08. Aug, 2013


    Very good instructions and pics. The only thing I would add is on 4X4′s you need to drop the fwd axle to have room to reach the T40 torx bolts.

  17. Richard

    08. Aug, 2013


    Correction, NOT FWD AXLE— FWD DRIVE SHAFT. Thinking one thing posting another.

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  19. Mark

    04. Jan, 2014


    Great post and pics! I was able to get the throttle bracket out with the t40 with out any issues. Changes to a dorman after market pan with a nice drain plug. I also changed the filter. so far no issues. One suggestion, I suctioned out a fair quantity of trans fluid with a pump from the trans filler tube which made it a lot cleaner when I actually dropped the pan.Thanks again for GREAT POST!

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  1. Transmission filter kit - S-10 Forum - January 11, 2010


    [...] dealer. The p/n for the drain plug is 24213991 go here if you want theR&R procedure…. > HERE < hope this [...]

  2. Transmission filter kit - S-10 Forum - January 12, 2010


    [...] dealer. The p/n for the drain plug is 24213991 go here if you want the R&R procedure…. > HERE < hope this [...]

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