How to Identify the Transmission in a LeSabre

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The Buick LeSabre, during its production run from 1959 to 2005, employed numerous types of automatic transmissions to transmit power from its massive V-8 engines to the wheels. The LeSabre was a full-size car with luxurious appointments. Although the base transmission during its early years was manual, few people ordered it. The automatics first matched the 364- and 401-cubic-inch V-8s, but the oil crisis of the 1970s dramatically reduced engine sizes. Common automatic transmission selections included the ST-300, Turbo Hydramatic 350 and the electronically controlled automatics beginning in the 1980s.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape

Super Turbine 300

  • Examine the exterior of the automatic transmission in the 1964 to 1969 LeSabre by scooting under the frame behind the engine. These models featured the Super Turbine 300, or ST-300, two-speed automatic.

  • Inspect the case. It should be a one-piece aluminum case with separate bell housing and a 14-bolt pan.

  • Scoot under the right side of the transmission. There should be a modulator mounted on the side of the case. These features identify the transmission as an ST-300. It features gear ratios of 1.76-to-1 for first, 1.00-to-1 for high gear and 2.76-to-1 for reverse.

TH350

  • Repeat Step 1 in first section for 1969 to 1984 LeSabres if the transmission is in the car. Measure the transmission, which for these models years is likely a Turbo Hydramatic TH350 three-speed automatic. The transmission is contained in an aluminum alloy case. It should measure 21.75 inches long and weigh 120 lbs.

  • Inspect the oil pan. Note the bevel on the passenger side in the rear corner. Also, note the modulator on the right side at the rear of the case.

  • Move to the driver's side of the transmission. If you see an electrical plug, the transmission is an electronic TH350-C lockup version to increase fuel efficiency on 1979 to 1984 LeSabres. Its gear ratios were first gear 2.52-to-1, second gear 1.52-to-1 and third 1.00-to-1.

4L60E

  • Examine the passenger side of the transmission for 1993 and later LeSabres. These LeSabres are equipped with the 4L60E four-speed automatic. On the right side of the case is a round electrical connector at the base of the transmission. To the left of the connector is a stamped identification code that should match the LeSabres Vehicle Identification Number.

  • Examine the case where the spline shaft protrudes. To the left of the shaft the stamped letters "PWM" are visible.

  • Inspect the top of the bell housing towards the front the transmission. You may have to feel with your hand, if the transmission is mounted, for a paper tag that further identifies the 4L60E. Not all 4L60Es have the tag, though.The gear ratios were 3.059-to-1 for first, 1.625-to-1 for second, the direct third gear was 1.00-to-1 and the fourth 0.696-to-1.

4T60 and 4T65E

  • Examine the passenger-side transmission near the drive shaft on 1985 to 1991 LeSabres. Stamped on the side is an identification code that matches the VIN for a 4T60.

  • Examine the transmission for a bolt-on exterior house with a smooth reverse servo cover. This is the 4T65E transmission.

  • Inspect the casing of the 4T65E. It should contain six boltholes and an electronic connector at the top. The side also features an identification tag.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider that a vintage LeSabre may not have its original transmission installed, which may devalue the car.
  • Never install or remove a transmission without an instruction manual.

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