Chevy Silverado Transmission Problems – Are These Issues Serious?

by Conner Mckay

Are you on the market for a used Chevy Silverado and you are looking to learn the Chevy Silverado transmission problems? If that is the case, then you are at the right place because we are going to cover all of the problems that the Silverado has and more.

Transmission problems could be one of the most expensive issues to sort out and if you are not a step ahead, you will highly likely end up paying thousands of dollars on repairs and you will end up in an endless money pit. That’s why learning more about the possible problems of your future vehicle is key when it comes to avoiding issues in the long run.

And trust me, every vehicle has its own problems and nothing is perfect. But some vehicles are more perfect than others. That’s why you need to find the best out there and make sure that it is worth the money. Or, else, you don’t need it. Nobody wants to be a frequent visitor at the mechanic’s shop and lose money and time on solving issues related to their truck. That’s why we are going to help you out.

In this article, we are going to learn what is the Silverado and what is the automatic transmissions and how these transmissions work. Then we will cover the Chevy Silverado transmission problems in order for you to have a better idea of what you are getting yourself into. Then we will answer some questions related to this topic. So, let’s discuss.

What Is The Chevy Silverado?

The Chevy Silverado is a full-size pickup truck manufactured by Chevrolet. The Silverado was first introduced in 1999 and is still in production to this day. At the moment this model is in its fourth iteration. This means that the present generation is number four. This tells a lot about the longevity and the popularity of this model which is Chevy’s most popular full-size truck on the market right now. And is right behind the Ford F-150 when it comes to sales.

These trucks are extremely popular as a first-hand purchase and also on the second-hand market. They are practically workhorses that allow many individuals and companies to get work done quickly and effectively.

That’s why if you are on the market and you are looking to purchase a good pickup truck, the Silverado is a no-brainer. But you should notice that not all of the trucks out there are good and some of them are suffering problems.

Some of them have engine issues, some have electrical problems, while some of them have transmission issues. That’s why you need to learn more about the model that you are trying to purchase and make sure that you don’t make a mistake. Learn more about the reviews online and previous experiences with this model. It’s much better to learn from someone else mistakes than from your mistakes. Because they often cost a lot of money.

And one of the most important aspects is to learn the transmission problems. Precisely in this situation, the Chevy Silverado transmission problems. Knowing these problems will save you thousands of dollars in the long run. But you first need to learn more about what is a transmission. And that we are going to cover next.

What Is Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmission or better-called the ‘gearbox’ is a component in our internal combustion vehicles. The transmission has a primary goal of evenly delivering the torque to the wheels.

But what does all this means in the first place? What is torque and from where does it come? Let’s elaborate.

When the engine starts it starts spinning the crankshaft. This means that there is rotational energy that is produced by the engine. This rotational energy cannot go directly to the wheels and it needs a transmission in order to convert the rotational energy of the crankshaft that it’s produced into torque and then this torque to be transferred to the driveshaft and from then to the wheels.

All this could sound confusing. But in practice, it is quite simple to understand. The transmission is a converter of energy. If there is no transmission and the engine is connected directly to the driveshaft, the driveshaft would simply snap into pieces. That’s why engineers since the beginning of the car era knew about this problem and worked to find a way to solve it.

First, they discovered the manual transmission where the driver goes through the gears manually. And as the years went by they found a way to ease this operation by inventing the automatic transmission. But still, there are Chevy Silverado transmission problems because nothing is perfect. But how do these automatic transmissions work? Let’s find out in the next chapter.

How Does An Automatic Transmission Work?

An automatic transmission works by using hydraulic power to go through the gears. So, in one section are the gears and in the other section is the complex plumbing of hydraulic fluid lines.

The hydraulic fluid moves through these lines based on the input from the driver. This input as we know is the input from the gas pedal or the gear lever when the driver puts the car into gear or reverse or park.

The transmission recognizes this input and acts accordingly. You don’t have to press the annoying clutch that mostly you are going to do if you drive a manual transmission. That’s why automatics are somewhat easier to drive for beginner drivers and they are the most popular choice on the market in the USA for a reason.

Chevy Silverado Transmission Problems

But still, this doesn’t mean that the Chevy Silverado transmission problems are none. There are still some issues with these transmissions. This is the case because these transmissions are quite complex pieces of machinery and know to develop a ton of issues. Some transmissions are more plagued by problems than others. But there isn’t a perfect transmission.

That’s why you need to learn all of the Chevy Silverado transmission problems before you go and buy a Silverado. Knowing the issues is key when it comes to avoiding possible headaches in the long run. Getting yourself a bulletproof transmission will guarantee that you will not face Chevy Silverado transmission problems in the long run and your ownership will be quite good.

But first, you need to learn which of the transmissions were used in the Silverado. And that we are going to cover next.

Types Of Transmission Used In Chevy Silverado

There are a couple of transmissions that were used in the Chevy Silverado during these years of production. And we are going to cover the most probable transmissions that you might come across while on the market for a used Silverado. Knowing the transmissions used in the Silverado will help you learn the Chevy Silverado transmission problems. So, which are the transmissions? Let’s find out.

4L60E 4 Speed Chevy Silverado Transmission

This four-speed automatic transmission was one of the most commonly used transmissions on the second generation Silverado that was produced until 2013. This transmission was used on a ton of other Chevy products as well. Namely, the Tahoe, Suburban, Camaro, and also on non-Chevy products like the GMC Yukon, Hummer H3, and even on the Pontiac GTO and Firebird.

There was also the 4L65E which was an upgraded transmission designed for the 6.0 Vortec engine and was capable to handle more than 380 lb-ft of torque. Which is fairly decent for this time. This didn’t mean that this transmission didn’t suffer Chevy Silverado transmission problems. But more on that later. First, let’s cover the other transmissions.

4L80 4 Speed Chevy Silverado Transmission

This transmission was another 4-speed automatic used during this era of the second generation and was used in many Chevy and other GM products. In the name, the 4 stands for 4 speed while the 80 stands for 8000 lbs which was the maximum towing capacity. This transmission was used mostly in the HD models of the Silverado. This transmission was also popular as a truck transmission. Since it was quite beefy and could withstand a lot of towing.

6L80 And 6L90 6 Speed Chevy Silverado Transmission

Now let’s cover something more modern. Because modern Silverados are running these two transmissions. These transmissions are quite beefier and are designed to handle quite more torque than the previous generations of Chevy automatic transmissions. More precisely the 6L could handle 664 lb-ft of torque. And these transmissions could be handled both automatically or with paddle shifters.

The towing capability of this transmission is 8,000 lbs and is electronically limited. Because it could handle quite more but it will overstress the transmission and the transmission could possibly fail.

This transmission was equipped on the Corvette, Silverado 1500, the Chevy Suburban, and the Chevy Tahoe. It also found its way in GMC products like the Yukon and the Sierra.

8L90 Automatic 8 Speed Chevy Silverado Transmission

This transmission was designed to replace the 6L80 (to learn more, check out our guide on the 6L80 transmission life expectancy) that we covered before. The 8 speed is transmission was designed with performance in mind. And when it comes to that it delivers quite a lot in comparison with other transmissions that are out there in the market. All shifts are quite snappy and smooth. Making this transmission extra desirable.

That’s why this transmission found its way in the performance products made by GM like the Corvette, Cadillac CTS-V, and strangely in the Silverado and the GMC Sierra as well.

This transmission was designed to handle a lot of power more precisely 650 hp and 635 lb-ft of torque and has a maximum towing capacity of 13,200 lbs. Which is quite more than the 6L, that’s why this transmission was included in the Silverado as well. But that doesn’t mean that there are no Chevy Silverado transmission problems. And more about these problems with the 8L90 transmission we are going to cover next where we will discuss all of the problems that these transmissions have.

Chevy Silverado Transmission Problems

In this chapter, we are going to cover the four most widely used transmissions on the Chevy Silverado and their problems. These problems have to be known in order for you to have a better idea of what to expect before you get a Silverado with these specific transmissions.

Chevy Silverado Transmission Problems

Also, when you test the trucks you will be able to tell if the transmission has a problem or not. So, let’s begin.

1. 4L60E

Let’s start with the 4L60E. As we said this transmission can be found in the early models of the Silverado from the first and second generations. This transmission has a few issues.

No Reverse

High mileage 4L60E transmissions could have a problem shifting in reverse. This is a common problem on these and if you have one of these issues you are going to notice it. The truck simply will not go in the reverse gear. There will also be metal shavings in the oil pan as well.

Harsh Or Delayed Shift From 1st to 2nd Gear

This problem is also common on this transmission. The transmission is experiencing delayed shifts from first to second. This is mostly caused by worn or broken 2-4 transmission bands. This band is a friction material that serves the purpose of engaging the clutch. When this material is worn the clutch simply slips. This problem is also found in higher mileage vehicles.

Another reason for this problem could be the broken TPS sensor. Also known as throttle body position sensor.

Shudder When Shifting From First To Second

The problem with shuddering is also quite notorious and annoys a lot of owners. This problem is caused by the 1-2 accumulator. This is a small shock absorber that is located inside the valve body. This plastic piston located inside breaks and the car just jerks into gear. Although a minor issue, it has to be addressed quickly before more damage is created.

2. 4L80E

Erratic Shifting

Because this transmission was one of the early transmissions that were electronically controlled. This produced many shifting problems and check engine lights.

All these problems were attributed to the I/O speed sensor or the throttle body position sensor. Once these sensors were checked and replaced the problem was solved.

Slipping Gears Or Failure To Shift

Slipping gears were notorious on these transmissions because there were a total of 8 solenoids that were used to control the transmission and the shifting. Sometimes these solenoids know to fail and report problems like slipping gears. Replacing the affected solenoid fixes the issue and the transmission resumes proper work. If you notice slipping gears and excessive vibrations. You know that there is a solenoid that went bad.


Transmission overheating is also a common occurrence on the 4L80E. This is the case because when the vehicle is loaded heavily. The radiator that is cooling the ATF simply cannot achieve to cool off the ATF, so the hot ATF circulates inside of the transmission and can cause a lot of damage to the valve body, bands, seals, and other components. If your transmission overheats quite often, then upgrading the radiator with a bigger one could solve your problem.

3. 6L80E

No Reverse

One of the most common issues with this transmission is the failure to go into reverse. This is mostly caused by the park pawl or some of the clutches are damaged on the transmission. If you notice this issue, it is important not to force the car to go into reverse. Visit your local shop in order to learn more about this problem and how to solve it.

Slipping Gears

If you notice slipping gears, then it’s highly likely that the drum has developed a crack and the solution for this issue will require a completely new drum and bearing to be installed if you want to return your vehicle in proper working order.

Slipping In First Gear

There is also another common slipping gear problem when the car has difficulty moving from a dead stop. This problem is highly likely caused by one of the solenoids inside. The solenoid is basically stuck in an off position and the car doesn’t like to go into gear or has trouble doing so. Also, the valve body can cause this problem to appear as well.

4. 8L90

Hard Shifting

The 8 speed although fairly new, has developed some problems. More notably the hard shifts or abrupt gear changes. These problems were of a software nature. But were enough to annoy a lot of owners who have this transmission.

The problem was patched with recalibration of the TCM with the newest software. If you have this problem and your transmission is under warranty, the best thing to do is to visit your dealership and tell them to sort this issue. Or if you are on the market for a used Silverado make sure that this problem is sorted out for you not to face Chevy Silverado transmission problems.

Delayed Shifts

Delayed shifts are also notorious on this transmission. This is most often caused when the vehicle was sitting for quite a while. To fix this problem, a new stator shaft support assembly has to be installed on the transmission.

Erratic Shifts

Similar to the problem with hard shifting. It is a problem of software nature. The TCM needs to be re-calibrated with the newest software for this specific transmission.

How Are Chevy Silverado Transmission Problems Diagnosed?

Transmissions these days are computerized and everything is controlled by the vehicle’s computer. So, diagnosing a transmission will require accessing the vehicle’s computer and getting the error codes that the transmission modules are causing.

By accessing the errors, the mechanic will know how to fix the problem. Still, sometimes these problems can remain hidden and you keep experiencing Chevy Silverado transmission problems. In this case, the transmission has to be removed and thoroughly examined by transmission experts who know how to tackle these transmission issues.

How Long Does A Chevy Silverado Transmission Last?

On average, a 4L60E or 4L80E lasts somewhere between 120,000 to 180,000 miles. While the 6L90 lasts a bit more, more precisely between 130,000 to 200,000 miles.

But these transmissions can also last far more than this. If the transmission was maintained properly, it could easily hit even 250,000 miles with no problem. But transmission issues could still be there, clutches, bands, solenoids can go bad and these things have to be sorted. Overall these transmissions are quite good and are not prone to failures. So, you don’t have to worry much about that.

What Are The Options If Your Transmission Is Broken?

There are a few options on the table if you are experiencing Chevy Silverado transmission problems. In this chapter, we are going to cover the solutions to your problem.

The first option would probably be to rebuild your transmission. These rebuilds are done by professional shops that tackle these transmissions quickly and effectively. A rebuild will probably cost you between $1,500 to $2,000.

The second option would be to get a used transmission. With these transmissions, you never know what you are going to get. If you are lucky you can get an excellent deal if not you will have to replace the transmission once again. Overall, try to find a transmission with low miles. This will somewhat guarantee that the transmissions will last.

Get a re-manufactured transmission. These transmissions are factory rebuilds. Which means that the transmission is rebuilt and upgraded by the factory. These transmissions have a warranty and they will also last good as a new one. This route is probably the best if you are on the market for a transmission.

Chevy Silverado Transmission Issues

  1. Owners of Chevy Silverado 1500 pickups have reported poor shift quality and erratic shifting problems between the First and Second gears, leading to the Malfunction light on the dash to come on.
  2. The problem does not affect the Chevy Silverado 1500 Limited, the pre-facelift version of the Silverado.
  3. GM dealer technicians are replacing the transmission Control Module and reprogramming the related software to address the issue.
  4. Until the correction is made, dealers cannot sell new and used trucks, and any trucks without the fix can’t be used as demonstrators.
  5. Owners can use their truck’s VIN number to determine whether the fix applies to the eight-speed or 10-speed automatic transmission.
  6. Other transmission problems that Silverado owners have reported include transmission fluid leaks and sudden transmission failures.
  7. A recall for the 2018 Silverado eight-speed transmission was issued, addressing complaints of sudden downshifts into First gear.
  8. A recall for 2020 Silverado pickups was also issued over driveshaft issues that can cause driveshaft vibration to travel through the transmission.
  9. Over 60 technical service bulletins have been issued for the eight-speed automatic transmission, and a class action lawsuit is pending against GM over problems with the eight-speed automatic transmission.
  10. The class action lawsuit covers many years of 1500 trucks, going back to 2015, and also includes Corvettes, Camaros, and certain Cadillac models that run identical or nearly identical transmissions.

Conclusion – Chevy Silverado Transmission Problems

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the Chevy Silverado transmission problems. We learned more about the Silverado and we also learned how automatic transmission works in practice. Then we have covered the types of transmissions that were used in the recent generations of the Silverado.

Then we have covered the common problems with these transmissions. All of them are pretty much bulletproof. The main problems are the clutches and other electronic components that know to fail and make the transmission develop issues.

The most notorious of the bunch is the 8-speed automatic that is used now in a lot of modern Chevys. That’s why it is better to avoid it. Get a good alternative option. Namely, the 6L90.

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