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How to remove 4L60E valve body and replace plastic accumulator pistons

Discussion in 'Article Submissions' started by dfc739, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. dfc739

    dfc739 Well-Known Member

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    Tools needed:
    8, 10, 13 mm sockets and ratchet
    Good set of picks
    ¼” torque wrench (needs to have a range between 40 and 96 inch-lbs
    Any transmission parts you plan on replacing (accumulator pistons, separator plate, separator plate gaskets, shift kit, etc.) I listed the parts that I used over at http://gmtnation.com/f24/built-4l60e-replacement-4894/
    Gloves
    Lots of rags
    Patience

    First remove the transmission pan. Have a large bucket ready to catch the fluid that will inevitably drip all over you. I like to remove all the bolts except for those in the corners and then select one corner to drop lower than the others. That way it’ll more or less funnel it into the bucket. Then remove the filter and leave it in the bucket of fluid. Let it drip for 10 or 15 minutes unless you love getting ATF in your eyes/hair/beard. :hissyfit:
    Pic 1 View attachment 22836

    You’re probably now pretty anxious while looking at all the wires, solenoids, and whatnot. :eek: It’s ok, take it step by step and you’ll be fine. Take notes or pictures of the coloring of the wires going to the shift solenoids (arrows in pic). I believe these are the only two plugs that interchange and in the case that the wiring gets bent up you want to be able to tell them apart. I didn’t have to worry about it because I took the wiring harness down carefully and put it back up the same way to the connector that lied closest to each solenoid was plugged in.
    Pic 2 View attachment 22837

    Now you can remove one of the accumulators (arrow in pic). This will house one of the plastic pistons that should be replaced. It will have three bolts and one will be longer than the other two. Keep these aside (I like to put stuff in plastic sandwich baggies as I’m taking it apart).
    Pic 3 View attachment 22838

    Here is what mine looked like. You can see it’s literally crumbling around the base and there are at least a couple chunks of plastic floating around in there. I’m glad I caught this now instead of when it finally completely fell apart.
    Pic 4 View attachment 22839

    Now you’re ready to remove the wiring harness. Beginning from the plug leading to the top of the transmission, unplug the force motor, both shift solenoids, the pressure manifold switch, the 3-2 solenoid, and the torque converter clutch PWM solenoid. Use a pick to pull out the clip holding the TCC PWM solenoid in place then remove the solenoid from its bore (arrow in pic). Set it aside for now.
    Pic 5 View attachment 22840

    The torque converter clutch solenoid (NOT the PWM solenoid- funny how they give them such close names) is a physical part of the wiring harness and must be removed. I repeat, it should remain attached to the wiring harness. Two bolts (arrows in pic) hold it in and it can be pulled from its bore.
    Pic 6 View attachment 22841

    You can now bring the wiring harness down. The TCC solenoid might reach the ground depending on how high you have it jacked up, so put something under it to keep it clean. Now you’re ready to start removing bolts. There are several of them and they are different lengths. I made myself a piece of thin foam that I could push the bolts into to keep them in order.

    I repeat, do not mess up which bolts go where. You will lock up the transmission if you put a long bolt in a short bolt position. If you are in doubt of where the correct length bolts go, look it up. My shift kit came with a detailed view of exactly where the bolts go so I double checked to make sure I kept them in the same spots (better safe than sorry).

    You can take off the pressure manifold switch like I did or leave it. It doesn’t matter as it’s coming down with the valve body anyway. If you’re doing this with the transmission in the vehicle, I usually leave the middle bolt for the very end. That way you can take out all the others and be holding it while it drops. Some of these pics are from one I did while it was out of the vehicle, so it’s a little easier. As you’re dropping the valve body you need to disconnect the manual valve (red arrow in pic). You can either slide the valve from its bore or unlink it at its connector. If you’re careful you can drop it with all seven checkballs in place. I was able to on my first shot. On transmissions that are out I’ve also been able to leave all checkballs in the correct place on the separator plate.
    Pic 7 View attachment 22842

    Now you’re staring at the separator plate and its gaskets. You’ll need to remove the hold down plate in order to remove the separator plate (red arrow). It’s held in with three bolts. I’ve also circled the positions of all the checkballs in yellow and the one that failed me- went through the separator plate- in orange.
    Pic 8 View attachment 22843

    When you pull off the separator plate and gaskets the case checkball will come down on top. I didn’t get a picture of where it is in the case, but the red arrow here is where it is on the separator plate. It’s a spot close to accumulator housing you previously took off and it’s pretty obvious where it goes there is a little cage-like spot for it.
    Pic 9 View attachment 22844

    This picture shows the other plastic accumulator piston you should replace. Mine was cracked in two places and getting ready to self-destruct. It’s in the valve body and the plate that it’s underneath is under light spring tension. Just slowly remove the three bolts holding the plate on, and the piston will pull from its bore.
    Pic 10 View attachment 22845

    I decided to pull out all the valves and clean up the valve body but you don’t need to. At this point I need to stress that whichever shift kit (if you got a shift kit) you bought should have come with directions and you need to follow them to the letter. Really, read the directions a couple times before even starting. When I put in my Transgo shift kit, I still messed up. I was replacing springs and realized that there are TWO white springs that were about the same size. They were in different baggies and were meant for different valves. So, look through all the parts before you start and make sure you know where everything goes. These pictures are for anyone that might need them.
    Pic 11 View attachment 22846
    Pic 12 View attachment 22847

    Assembly is the reverse of disassembly. Here are a few pointers though:
    I used alignment pins that I made out of some old bolts by cutting the heads off. They were long enough to go through the valve body and they keep the separator plate and gaskets aligned. Then the hold down plate can be put on and torqued to 96 inch lbs.
    Pic 14 View attachment 22848

    Use Vaseline or transgel to hold all the checkballs in place. I didn’t have any problem doing so. The transmission won’t quite shift right until the Vaseline melts, but that’s nothing a short 5-10 minute drive won’t accomplish.

    Take it slow and make sure everything looks correct. You have to tip the valve body to the side just a little bit to make it fit slide up under Make sure you remember to reattach the manual valve linkage.

    You’ll need to torque the valve body bolts in three steps. First, 40 inch pounds, then 65 inch pounds, then 96 inch pounds. Torque the bolts in a circular pattern starting from the center. Don’t forget to reinstall the dipstick guard.
    Pic 13 View attachment 22849

    It took six quarts of Dex VI to get my transmission back up the hatched area after this. I think the extra quart is probably from dropping the valve body and losing a little more fluid.

    If you have questions, either PM me or look around on the internet. BoxWrench has some great youtube videos that explain exactly how to remove, tear down, and reassemble the valve body.

    Have fun with your fixed transmission.
     

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    ttcfan4476, JerryIrons and msandman17 like this.
  2. The_Roadie

    The_Roadie Well-Known Member

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    Admin Post
    I am in awe of this article. What a wonderful and skillful contribution. Much appreciated! :thumbsup:
     
  3. Denali n DOO

    Denali n DOO Silver Supporter

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    Nice write up, well done! :thumbsup:
     
  4. McGMT

    McGMT Well-Known Member

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    Not to be funny or anything but I have to know, is that a folding chair up in the frame or am I seeing things? Nice job too...
     
  5. meerschm

    meerschm Well-Known Member

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    Very nice.

    on the chair, he said some photos were from a trans removed from the usual location.
     
  6. dfc739

    dfc739 Well-Known Member

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    Wow, you guys must have read it thoroughly. Yes, I did "cheat" a little here. When I knew I might be needing a transmission I started browsing craigslist. I snapped up a used 4l60e from a 2004 4x4 Trailblazer for $100. The guy said it "lost reverse" but after looking inside it was obvious that wasn't the case (one of the 2-3-4 shift control checkballs went through the separator plate). That guy had also bought it to rebuild but never got around to it and then sold his Envoy. I had this in the trunk of my Trailblazer to experiment on so I could know what exactly I was getting myself into. I could work at a slow pace and avoid the days of summer that were 100+ (I live in an apartment complex without a garage to work in). I was also able to install almost every piece of the shift kit on the "new" valve body and then I just swapped valve bodies out one day. But now I'm ripping out the guts of the other transmission and plan on rebuilding it. I have the transmission repair/rebuild manual, so I'll give it a read and rebuild once I get the new parts. I'm swapping out the notorious sun/reaction shell and rear planetary sun gear but most everything else looks brand new. Then I'll have an extra transmission sitting around just waiting to be thrown into my truck.

    That's my post-softball game beer drinking chair. :thumbsup:
     
  7. Hypnotoad

    Hypnotoad Well-Known Member

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    What are the symptoms of the broken plastic pistons? My TB definitely doesn't shift like it used to and is kinda sloppy. Might I benefit from this write up?
     
  8. dfc739

    dfc739 Well-Known Member

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    I think anyone with more than 50k should benefit from this write up because if nothing else, you have to change your fluid and filter. I wish I would have done this 20k miles ago. My shifts were very sluggish. It was almost like the transmission wasn't applying the power from the engine to the wheels efficiently. Sometimes shift points would be off/weird. I attribute this to fluid leaking through the accumulators and/or separator plate. After I put in the shift kit I did a 0-60 mph test (for science) and my wheels broke loose on dry pavement on the 1-2 shift. It could never do that before.
     
  9. McGMT

    McGMT Well-Known Member

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    It pretty much benefits all vehicles with the plastic pistons, even if there are no symptoms as of yet it is preventative maintenance to go ahead and swap them out... Sluggish shifting and RPM flare at the 2-3 shift are dead giveaways.
     
  10. playstrings

    playstrings Member

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  11. bwhaldeman

    bwhaldeman Member

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    This is a great article and "how to" from start to finish! Thanks for all the detail and especially the pics too. I'm getting ready to do this same thing to my 96 Z71 and found it very helpful.

    My question is the same as the last as far as the acccumulators/pistons. What brand or kit is best to use with the Transgo? I've looked at the Sonnax pinless as well, but not sure if the different springs will conflict with anything or the Transgo kit. Can anyone advise what the best route to go is on the new accumulators? Thanks!

    Oh, and dfc...I was born and raised in Dallas Center, IA! A Hawkeye for 31 years!!!
     
  12. dp28688

    dp28688 Member

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    Heres link they sell a kit with mixed transgo/Sonnax so should be good. 4L60E 4L65E 1996-06 1870 CODE BUSTER UPDATE KIT
    few people mentioned these guys it other post i read about parts.




     
  13. bwhaldeman

    bwhaldeman Member

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    I did see the Ctpowertrain mentioned, but hadn't checked it out yet until you mentioned it too. It looks like a really good kit with about everything you'd want, so think I'll give it a go. I appreciate the link as well...thanks!

    BWH
     
  14. superado

    superado New Member

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    Great write-up.
    One question...
    I know where the (2) square filter screens go in the separator place, but where do the other couple of filter screens go?
     

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  15. Reprise

    Reprise Silver Supporter

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    Those come into play if you're doing more than the valve body - if you're just doing the VB / Separator plate, I don't think you'll need them.

    Those look like a PWM pump screen (presses into the pump stator), Lockup solenoid thimble filter (early style-in case), and a TCC lockup solenoid filter (late style - in solenoid snout)

    If you're taking the trans out of car and rebuilding the whole thing, or have an early model year (90's) trans, you may find use for those parts. But if this is an 'in-car valve body job' - you should only need the two 'square' filters. Once you drop the separator plate, you'll see where they go. I had only the two square ones with my kit, and had to do some research to find out what the extra ones you had were (your supplier apparently issues all of the screens in one kit that covers early / late years, and up to 'full rebuilds')

    On the two square screens...the larger one is the EPC solenoid filter, and TransGo includes a wire spacer in their kits to help keep the filter from cavitating / collapsing on full throttle (high pressure) shifts. The smaller one is the shift solenoid filter, and doesn't require any modification. After 2006, it looks like the two square ones were discontinued as well.
     
  16. superado

    superado New Member

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    Thanks for the info!
    I jut realized that the new separator plate I ordered has both the VB and CA gaskets bonded to it with filter screens sandwiched between them...so, the square ones are no longer necessary.
    I replaced the TCC solenoid so it includes a new filter as well.
    If I end up having to replace the 3-4 clutch pack (which I'm afraid is inevitable), I will replace the PWM pump screen you mentioned.
    New separator plate with gaskets arrived today.
    I was able to remove all of the old gasket from the VB...now I have to see if I can successfully remove the gasket from the case...luckily, half of it came off with the separator plate.
    Good times!!!
     
  17. JerryIrons

    JerryIrons Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the article! My original transmission with 257,000 miles started throwing the occasional code when shifting into overdrive on the highway. Hopefully just from a warn tcc/pwm valve situation so we will see. Although I have read and even watched a youtube video of changing that valve without dropping the valve body, it wasn't happening with mine, so off came the valve body. As it turned out I needed high air pressure to blow out one of those inside spacers, and the end plug did not come out very easily as well. I wanted to get a look at things anyway to see if there was anything obviously broken or worn so it's better it came off. I bought the whole shift kit, but in the end just put in the tcc/pwm valve. Changing shifting firmness doesn't really matter to me, and honestly things seemed in pretty good shape. I've been changing my trans fluid every year now for several years, so hopefully I fixed it, haven't driven it yet that many miles. It was the first time I've worked on anything transmission wise other than changing the fluid/filter, and your article was a big help, thanks again.
     
    Mooseman likes this.

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