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#4387380 - 04/24/17 06:50 AM 4t65e which ATF?
CocoNut808 Offline

Registered: 04/20/17
Posts: 4
Loc: Hawaii
Hi All.
First time posting, but ive been reading the posts here for quite a while.
I have the dreaded 4t65e (Chevy Venture)that shifts hard when the transmission heats up.
I am adding a shift kit and changing the filter.
Which fluid should i use? I dont want to spend too much as this vehicle isn't worth much at all.
Also I live in Hawaii so i am limited to what i can get locally as it is a pain to get fluids shipped here.
some options i have found are:
Maxlife atf
Napa DexIII (cheapest)
Supertech Dex VI
Castrol HM


#4387386 - 04/24/17 07:04 AM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
901Memphis Offline

Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 12897
Loc: Northern Kentucky
Maxlife dex merc is one of the best choices.

Once you get hard shifts in the 4t65e the shift kit is too late, assuming it's max adapt hard shifts from worn clutches. The good news is you can drive it shifting hard for awhile, I got a couple years from mine before I finally had a proper rebuild done.
2012 Chevy Cruze LT 1.4T - 50k
2002 Buick Century 130k - Built 4T65e(Maxlife) - Edge 0w40 + Fram XG3980

#4387389 - 04/24/17 07:07 AM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
Char Baby Offline

Registered: 05/25/05
Posts: 10086
I don't believe that DEXRON VI is a recommend ATF for your tranny although, I don't know that you can't use it. It is a low viscosity ATF and so is the MaxLife. So, I would want for myself possibly the Castrol HM or just regular DexIII.

Others will chime in with better recommendations.

Edited by Char Baby (04/24/17 07:09 AM)
'06 Mazda 3i 2.0L-FOR SALE NOW!
'80 Firebird FORMULA V8/4bbl-purchased "NEW"
'15 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV
'15 Honda Civic LX(17K)

#4387418 - 04/24/17 07:41 AM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
Huie83 Offline

Registered: 02/19/09
Posts: 513
Loc: Minnesota
I use Valvoline Maxlife Synthetic ATF in my 2010 4t65e, it shifts better with that than Dexron VI.

Also Google "4t65e magnet upgrade" to see if your model would benefit from adding a second magnet to the pan. There was a TSB for my model that added a second magnet to the filter housing to trap more particles. The shift solenoids are magnetic and get clogged up with metal particles with higher mileage. Frequent fluid exchanges and a second magnet have greatly improved my shifts.

Between a TransGo shift kit, a new filter, the second magnet and a few drain/fills with Maxlife, it's like a new transmission. FYI, I have 116K on my 4t65e. It started acting up around 100K when I did all the work, has been good since. It had been serviced @ 60K with new Dexron VI fluid and a filter so it's not like it was neglected either.

Edited by Huie83 (04/24/17 07:49 AM)

#4387457 - 04/24/17 08:24 AM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
barkingspider Offline

Registered: 12/22/13
Posts: 2067
Loc: socal
If your car is spec'd for Dex iii, then I would use Dex iii as its the cheapest and u said the car isn't worth much. I would skip the shift kit
06 Cadillac Escalade Ext
17 Cadillac ATS (wife)
05 Toyota Camry (daughter)
11 GMC Canyon off-road (daily)

#4387480 - 04/24/17 08:44 AM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
WishIhadatruck Offline

Registered: 05/09/06
Posts: 1398
Loc: Grand Rapids, MI
My 2001 Grand Prix (3800V6, 4T65E trans) started shifting hard when hot (any city driving at all) sometime around 100-110k miles on it I'd guess. I put a shift kit in it at 120k and when I gave it away just shy of 230k miles it was still shifting fine with the occasional firm shift (nothign like the banging it had before the shift kit however). I did pan drop and filter changes every 30k miles. I used mostly Dex VI and nothing else worked better. I used Mobil 1 ATF the first 90k miles and later it its life I tried Redline D4 but it was no different. I'd probably go with the Maxlife if I were you.

Here is a UOA of mine.
1996 Buick Roadmaster Wagon
2014 Cruze Eco Manual
2003 2500 Suburban, 8.1L

#4387506 - 04/24/17 09:07 AM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
stower17 Offline

Registered: 06/15/10
Posts: 552
Lot's of talk about this topic on this site and other forums as well.

My personal opinion is to skip the shift kit and the Dexron VI, I would only recommend Dexron VI if the transmission was operating normal. This is a well documented issue with these transmissions that happens as the clutches wear down so I would use a dedicated high mileage atf (castrol transmax) since a higher viscosity is needed. If the pan has hard metal bits in the gray sludge, add the upgraded magnets. GM put out a TSB back in 2009 or so and basically all GM hydramatic electronically controlled transmissions are to receive the updated magnet whenever the pan is dropped. Do a google search for the TSB and the instructions about adding the magnets as each transmission model has a different procedure.

The 4Txxe transmissions are so reliant on those solenoids that any metal particulate that gets attracted to a solenoid will cause problems guaranteed. The stronger magnets help correct the line pressure problem and help prevent the problem from getting worse. Frequent fluid changes along with the upgraded magnets can also help fix the problem in the long run if indeed the solenoids have contaminants on them. Your issue sounds more like a worn out clutches but the magnet upgrade wouldn't hurt. Keep us informed on your progress!

#4387583 - 04/24/17 10:36 AM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
slacktide_bitog Offline

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 6392
Loc: USA

Any of them will be fine. Maxlife is very popular on here.

#4387584 - 04/24/17 10:36 AM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
SumpChump Offline

Registered: 02/11/14
Posts: 1979
Loc: Upper Midwest by the Lakes USA
We had a hot slam banging 4t65e and when I called the tranny shop he instantly replied... "Those are my bread n butter". No kidding. I hated that transmission.

He said they put in a shift kit and add a cooler and they go for 30-60k more, if they had been slamming already. If done preemptively.... then he said it would go several hundred k miles.

#4387792 - 04/24/17 03:00 PM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
i_hate_autofraud Offline

Registered: 05/19/16
Posts: 714
Loc: Canada

First off, even if a car’s not “worth much” the cost of a replacement car can be a lot!
If you can "TLC" an older car and get 2 more years, that's a plus!!

So the book value of a car is not something I think about, rather the cost to get another
car that can be avoided! Lol

Clutch pack wear is like No 99 reason for hard shifts. There so many more common problems
for hard shifts that will cause damage that are all centered around a cheapen-out
valve body parts.

Shift kits in the #1 / #2 shift accumulators work great, easily done with the oil pan off.

New oil filter a good bet too.

1 or 2 cans of Seafoam Trans Tune before you pour in new ATF.

Disconnect the car battery for 30 minutes to reset the computer, you likely have a P1811 code
in the TCM. A P1811 forces the line oil pressure so high it’ll damage other things like jamming
the torque converter lockup clutch to ‘on’ and stay there, you’ll have to tear everything out
and replace the torque converter!

Finally be very sure the tranny fluid level is right. If it’s at the lower limit it can start
shifting badly even after all this work. Drive for 5-6 miles, then check level while hot, idling
and in park on level ground. Mine has to be at the top mark on the dip stick. Checking dipstick
level after only idling the engine til the engine is ‘hot’ is not the same as a ‘hot’ tranny!

Good items to read:






#4387817 - 04/24/17 03:43 PM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
901Memphis Offline

Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 12897
Loc: Northern Kentucky
Also I had a thread here about the filters for the 4t65e. I had my 4T65e in my Buick done by triple edge and I did a lot of research before and after on this transmission. He has a bunch of good information on his website too.
2012 Chevy Cruze LT 1.4T - 50k
2002 Buick Century 130k - Built 4T65e(Maxlife) - Edge 0w40 + Fram XG3980

#4387818 - 04/24/17 03:45 PM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
i_hate_autofraud Offline

Registered: 05/19/16
Posts: 714
Loc: Canada

Oops! Forgot to mention.

If don't actually do towing, a tranny oil cooler on a 4T65e will set a OBDII code saying the
tranny is too cold and adaptive shifts and even torque converter lockup will be disabled!

Yup! We can't catch a break with GM LOL!

#4387907 - 04/24/17 05:42 PM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
CocoNut808 Offline

Registered: 04/20/17
Posts: 4
Loc: Hawaii
Thanks for the replies!
I will definitely order those magnets.
I already have the shift kit so that will go in as well.
I'm thinking of using the cheap dexIII and running it a few thousand miles to see what the magnets pick up. After that switch to a HM ATF.
This van was inherited and is an extra vehicle that gets driven once or twice a week. With a blue book of less than $1500 its not worth selling , but if a cheap fix will let it run a few more years that would be great.

#4388024 - 04/24/17 08:08 PM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
Tim83 Offline

Registered: 04/20/17
Posts: 17
Loc: USA
Will go for Valvoline Maxlife if I needed to choose from that list.

Edited by Tim83 (04/24/17 08:09 PM)

#4388036 - 04/24/17 08:17 PM Re: 4t65e which ATF? [Re: CocoNut808]
Lubener Offline

Registered: 01/22/11
Posts: 2616
Loc: N.Ohio
DEX 6 here. DEX 3 is my second choice.

Edited by Lubener (04/24/17 08:18 PM)
The "thinking" man's friend.

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