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Thread: Auto Transmission Service Guide – 4L60E

  1. #1
    VT LS1

    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Default Auto Transmission Service Guide – 4L60E

    Please note this guide is written at a simplistic level so anyone can follow these instructions.

    I thought to share my ideas and write as much detail as possible based on my own experience on servicing a 4L60E transmission. This auto trans was standard for VT V6 and V8’s, including LS1’s right through to VZ I believe (correct me if this is not the case as I'm not 100% sure).

    So what is the idea of writing this guide? Basically to help others wanting to do the same thing.

    Also in writing this guide I am not endorsing any aspect of my mechanical knowledge and any mistakes you make are, at your own risk (just don't copy mine)

    Please read the following statements:

    1)Smell the trans fluid on your dipstick and it has a bad smell, like strong varnish.
    2)Your trans hasn’t been serviced in a long time, at least 50,000kms or more.
    3)You want to change the fluid, filter and seal for peace of mind while you own the vehicle.
    4)You want smoother gear shifts.

    If one of the following you said yes to then the following guide may be of some help.

    You will need the following tools in no particular order (see picture below) :

    · 3/8 socket wrench
    · 3/8 socket extension
    · Normal screwdriver
    · 13mm open and closed ended spanner
    · 13mm 3/8 socket
    · Silastic (Gasket sealant)
    · Long nose pliers
    · A metal file (100mm, 4inch). The one I used was from Bunnings by the brand name of Nicholson. Cost me $7.80 and it was a triangular shape
    · Very small flat head screwdriver (similar size to a jewelers set by slightly bigger.
    · WD-40

    You will also need:

    · A lot of newspaper (one whole newspaper should be enough)
    · A drain pan (purchase from Repco for $8 to $10).
    · Dexron III Transmission fluid (1 bottle for the pan and 3 bottles in total for a flush. A bottle is 4L)
    · ½ inch extension. This is to tap the filter seal into place
    · Ball end type hammer with flat edge. Not to big but enough so you can tap a ½ extension on the socket end.
    · Garage quality Jack. This isn’t a small jack to say change your tyres. You will need to get the car reasonably high so a garage jack is the only way. You can probably get away with using ramps as well.
    · 2 Jackstands.
    · Genuine Holden trans service kit. Don't know what trade price is but its about $80 retail! Still its worth it as you probably will service the trans once every 4 or 5 years if doing approx 10,000 kms per year.

    First step

    Get the car on a level surface where possible. Get the jack and at the chassis points start jacking the vehicle up, one side at a time. You may have to jack up one side to a certain height, then switch over the other side and come back to get the final desired height for underneath clearance. Once you have jacked the car up you can then start underneath.

    Second Step

    There are 16 pan bolts that hold the pan to the gearbox which are all 13mm. You can use a deep socket and extension of 3/8 size to loosen the nuts. Try to loosen most but leave a few loose and in the thread. There are one or two nuts that lie in direct placement of the transmission lines. Use the open ended spanner as appropriate (It will be enough as the nuts should not be on extremely tight) Once you have removed most bolts the pan will tip (watch out and have your drain pan ready). Fluid will start overflowing. I let a bit drain out initially and continued to loosen all remaining bolts and with my hands slowly lowered the pan and tipped the remaining fluid in the drain pain. Be prepared for the fact it is inevitable some fluid or a lot can spill out on the cement so take precautions with either a plastic sheet or newspaper.

    Once the pan is off you should see something similar to this

    Third Step

    You will see a black rubber container looking thing. This is the transmission filter
    Some American cars with this gearbox have 2 transmission filters so we are lucky in that sense. Anyways the easiest way to get rid of this is to turn it and pull it down. It will be quite pushed in so it may take some effort (nothing to strenuous) but it should come out pretty quick.

    So now you will see a rubber seal (don’t be deceived) that held the neck of the transmission filter (see below picture for the new and old seal. New seal is on the left, old on the right)

    This seal is extremely hard to get out. It is perfectly flush and as the seal is made of hard plastic/metal material. You cannot bend it and get it out. So if you don’t have access to a special tool you will have to get it out another way(to this date I have not been informed or told what this tool is by anyone including Repco, Supercheap and other persons in the trade). Even at the Holden dealership I live near the parts guy (he’s old mind you and doesn’t care much for the hobbiest) stated “To speak to the Service department” although he has done this before when I have shot a question.

    So now you are going to get the metal file and begin grinding the metal seal until you can create a flap (see the above photo of the missing chunk of the old seal. This is where the flap would be). Please note that the filter seal for the transmission is insulated by rubber on the inside. Before you start filing away at it you need to get rid of the rubber. This is easy with the file anyway and some pliers.

    You will end up with 2 grooves which hopefully won't be too deep.

    and a closer look

    Now people may say that this method will ruin my transmission but without the tool I found this the easiest and most plausable way to get the seal out. Provided you do not severely cut into the seal area in the transmission housing this should be fine. Also you will create markings for the next time you want to do this which is helpful if performing the same method and should not wear anymore metal away using the markings as a guide. Make sure you clean as much metal particles out of the seal housing as possible with a windex cloth.

    Once you have started using the metal file on the edge effectively you will have cut it enough to break part of it. You will need to cut two areas in order to create a flap. The seal may still look like you need to cut it even further. DON’T! When you think you have cut enough to have a metal flap grab your small (but strong) flathead screwdriver and bend the metal upwards. Once you have bent it enough get the pliers and grab the flap. Pull hard and the seal should come out.

    Fourth Step

    So now that everything is removed it is time to clean the pan. I purchased WD-40 as it is a cleaning solvent that “Absorbs moisture”. Get some windex cloths and clean as much gunk as you can out of the pan. Pull the magnet out of the sump and thoroughly wipe the magnet. You will also need to scrape off the existing gasket on the sump. The easiest way to do this is too get a little screwdriver, get under the edges and pull the gasket away with your hands. It will occasionally break in pieces but you will able to pull the majority of it off.

    Get some WD-40 and degreaser if needed with a scotchbrite cloth and get any remaining gasket material. You just need to get enough so that the new gasket will sit flush on the pan and flush when it is bolted up to the transmission. Get the new gasket and put some Silastic on both sides. You don’t need a lot. Remember Silastic is actually a liquid gasket in itself. It should just be enough to hold the gasket on the pan (so it doesn’t move when you bolt the pan up) and the allow the pan to not freely move when bolting it to the trans. It should look like as follows

    So now you have your clean sump it is time to insert the seal and filter. The new seal will be hard. Grab a long extension ½ drive socket bar and use this to hammer in the seal. The trick is to push 1 side in and then hammer softly the other side. It is simple to do and hard to not do correctly. It should now sit flush in the housing.

    Next grab your new filter and push the filter all the way into the housing. Initially it won’t move in much. It can go a fair way up so push it as far as you can rotating it as you push. Once you have pushed the filter neck high up into the seal housing you should have enough clearance to put the transmission pan back on. Get the 16 bolts and tighten up appropriately doing 1 bolt at a time all around the sump. Initially feed through the bolts by hand. Once you have done them all by hand grab the socket wrench and extension bar and continue this process one at a time. You will probably lap the pan maybe 2 or 3 times. Remember as these are small bolts you don’t need excessive amount of tightening strength. Just enough to have adequate resistance otherwise you will need to drill your snapped bolt inside the housing out and you don't want to do that.

    Fifth Step

    Open up the bonnet, get a funnel and fill the transmission with appropriate Dexron III transmission fluid. Your choice of what you want to use (synthetic or normal). Synthetic is expensive so I just opted for the normal fluid as I intended to do a flush.

    Remove the dipstick, get a funnel and start pouring in the fluid. Don’t do it to quick as the funnel will have a small opening. Continue to pour enough fluid in the transmission until it is cold.

    To check start the car and with the shifter move from ‘Park’ to ‘1’ and back to ‘Park’. Leave the car idling and wipe the dipstick you pulled out. Insert it again and read the level. If there is no fluid continue to fill until you are at the full mark (if the trans is cold) or ‘Hot’ if the trans is hot.

    When I started driving the car I immediately noticed a much smoother box (between changes) and when I manually selected the gears. Can’t wait till I flush it out completely.

    The job in total should take maybe 2 to 3 hours if jacking your car up by hand and maybe more if your taking your time. You can go quicker but what for, its your car at the end of the day!

    Didn't get time to do the flush but will take photo's when I do and post it up.

    Please write any feedback/technical etc where its needed.

    Hope this helps out others wanting to do the same thing!

  2. #2
    VP Exec

    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    Good description but should be moved to "How To" I think.

    Marking the hole for the filter seal is not inevitable and not good because if its bad enough it will allow air to be drawn past the seal and kill the trans.; the transmission is hydraulic not pneumatic . There are tools available which are designed to pull the seal out. Some types of bearing puller would do it too

    Bearing Puller Internal (TZ6012)

    Posi Lock - Internal Pullers

    Expensive for a one off job though.

    I use a pair of outside circlip pliers ground down for the purpose.

    The trans. level mark for cold should be used as a guide only, use the hot mark for the final check (with the trans. hot = drive).

  3. #3
    VT LS1

    Join Date
    Apr 2008


    Yeah no I agree with you about the markings. Just have to be careful with the file. I went a little too much but you can do this method and not make any markings. The grooves are extremely small and can't be seen once you put the seal in. The markings wasn't intentional but they are there (hope for those that do this method they don't make them and just be patient).

    Thanks for the tips about the tools though. Posi Lock tool is definitely worthwhile but depending on expense I suppose or as you say circlip pliers with cutting and modifying for the purpose. Do you have a pic of your pliers? Be good to add to this post for reference for others.

    Whoever can move the post I guess do so to the tech 'DIY' section ie Moderator.

  4. #4
    A Car

    Join Date
    May 2004
    New Zealand


    Thanks for taking the time & effort for a good write up.

    I used a small screw driver & hammer. Made a small dent to the rim of the seal so i could bend the seal side inwards & prise it out with some long nose pliers.

    I remember i was ****ting myself at the time hoping that holden gave me the right parts cos you completely ruin the seal getting it out. Doesn't mark the trans if you are really careful.

    long walk back to holden cos they gave me the wrong filter !. Turned out the VR SS used a 'Shallow pan' Filter & VS SS onwards used the 'Deep pan' variety, just a useless bit of info there.

  5. #5
    VT LS1

    Join Date
    Apr 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by cookp View Post
    Thanks for taking the time & effort for a good write up.

    I used a small screw driver & hammer. Made a small dent to the rim of the seal so i could bend the seal side inwards & prise it out with some long nose pliers.

    I remember i was ****ting myself at the time hoping that holden gave me the right parts cos you completely ruin the seal getting it out. Doesn't mark the trans if you are really careful.

    long walk back to holden cos they gave me the wrong filter !. Turned out the VR SS used a 'Shallow pan' Filter & VS SS onwards used the 'Deep pan' variety, just a useless bit of info there.
    No problem, thanks for the feedback. Thought it worthwhile for a write as a lot of threads on auto trans service weren't specific or missed information. Yeah parts guys and parts database systems are hopeless sometimes, especially the people at Repco (that I have dealt with anyway).

  6. #6
    Vx Wagon

    Join Date
    Jan 2012

  7. #7
    vs commodore

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Tamworth NSW


    I found that the easiest way to remove the old filter seal is to get a long flat screwdriver and carefully crush (or collapse) the metal part of seal inwards, I can then grab it with pliers and pull it out easily. The metal part of the seal is very light alloy, and it collapses very easily.You can get a better idea of what I mean if you check out the new seal that comes with the trans service kits first. Ive done a heap of services on these tramsmissions over the past few years, and Ive never had a problem removing the old seal in this way.Its quick and easy. And when refitting the seal,I dip the new seal in clean trans fluid and then fit it to the new filter pipe. Then I push both the seal and filter up into the hole until it bottoms out and is fully home(It does take a bit of pressure to push it right up in there.)..

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