1995 4L80E retrofit into 1994 vehicle

Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair Asked on December 24, 2021

I put a 1995 4L80E into a 1994 Suburban. I solved all the retrofit challenges and got everything hooked up. When I went to start it up and drive it, I was shocked to discover that my gears were backwards! Park is 1st, 1st is Park, etc.

I believe this is because 1995 and newer Suburbans use a cable shifter, while 1994 and older use the mechanical linkage brackets.

So my question is, does anyone know of a way to modify the transmission to shift gears in the correct direction?

Or, if that is not possible, is there an existing kit somewhere to work around this? I’ve seen kits to put older transmissions into newer vehicles, but have not found one for the other way around.

I’ve seen posts talking about replacing the shift shaft, but I believe that’s only because of the newer one being longer and the linkage doesn’t fit right. I worked around this by modifying my linkage to fit. I don’t believe this will correct the directional problem, but maybe someone knows better.

Thanks all!

Edit 7/24/2020: I wound up bending the bracket that bolts up to the shift shaft in such a way that I could turn it around completely, so the little ear where the shifter linkage bolts on points the opposite direction. It barely clears, but it works!

One Answer

A number of options spring to mind, the easiest of which is the change the order of the letters and numbers on the shifter to reflect their new locations.

I'd suggest finding a 1995 model in the breakers yard and removing the entire shift mechanism. Rather than attempt to rig something using a combination of periphery parts, simply installing the entire shift mechanism complete would be an effective way of resolving the issue permanently. You may have to fabricate some kind of mounting bracket.

Another option would be to get ahold of the wiring diagrams for both the shifter you have and the shifter you want and re-pinning the electrical connectors so that they give the signals that your gearbox is expecting.

Answered by Steve Matthews on December 24, 2021

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