NV3500 vs NV4500: Uncovering the Best Option for You

When it comes to choosing the right transmission for your vehicle, the battle between the NV3500 and NV4500 can be a tough choice.

Both of these 5-speed manual transmissions have their own unique advantages and characteristics that cater to different types of vehicles. Looking to compare these two popular options and determine which one suits your needs best?

The NV3500 is a light-duty transmission that works well with smaller vehicles, offering a more compact design for improved efficiency.

Conversely, the NV4500 is a heavy-duty option, boasting a higher load rating and a more durable construction that’s better suited for larger vehicles in need of increased power and performance.

With the basics laid out, it’s time to delve into the more detailed comparison of these two exceptional transmission choices.

Key Takeaways

  • Find out the differences between the NV3500 and NV4500 transmissions
  • Discover how their unique features cater to different vehicle types and requirements
  • Evaluate which one is the better choice for your particular needs

Understanding the Basics

NV3500 Transmission

The NV3500 transmission, also known as the 5LM60, is a 5-speed manual transmission designed for lighter duty vehicles.

Developed by New Venture Gear and General Motors, it can be found in various compact and full-size light trucks.

Being an all-aluminum design, the NV3500 is lighter and smaller when compared to the NV4500. Here are some characteristics of the NV3500:

  • Light-duty application
  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • Aluminum construction
  • Suitable for smaller vehicles

NV4500 Transmission

The NV4500 transmission is a 6-speed manual transmission designed for heavy-duty applications, best suited to larger and more powerful vehicles.

Manufactured by New Venture Gear, it is known for its durability and high load rating.

This transmission has a cast iron case with a bolt-on aluminum bell, PTO ports, and a granny 1st gear. Here are some notable features of the NV4500:

  • Heavy-duty application
  • 6-speed manual transmission
  • Cast iron case with aluminum bell
  • Suitable for larger vehicles
  • PTO port availability

To help summarize and compare the NV3500 and NV4500 transmissions, here’s a comparison table:

TransmissionApplicationSpeedsMaterialVehicle Size
NV4500Heavy-duty6Cast iron & aluminumLarger

In short, both the NV3500 and NV4500 transmissions offer unique advantages depending on the specific vehicle applications and your personal requirements.

Also Read: 4.8 vs 5.3 Reliability

NV3500 vs NV4500: Comparative Analysis

Speed and Torque

  • NV3500
    • 5-speed manual transmission
    • Torque capacity: 300 lb/ft
  • NV4500
    • 5-speed manual transmission
    • Torque capacity: 460 lb/ft

Size and Weight

  • NV3500
    • Lightweight
    • Suitable for lighter-duty vehicles
  • NV4500
    • Heavier
    • Designed for heavier-duty vehicles

In regards to size and weight, the NV3500 is a more lightweight transmission, making it suitable for lighter-duty vehicles like the Chevrolet 1500.

On the other hand, the NV4500 is a heavier transmission and is designed for heavier-duty vehicles, such as diesel-powered trucks like the Dodge Ram.

Sawdust In The Transmission

Engine and Clutch Compatibility

  • NV3500
    • Compatible with lighter-duty engines
    • Works with vehicles like the GM and Chevy
  • NV4500
    • Compatible with heavier-duty engines
    • Suitable for vehicles like the Dodge, Jeep, and Cummins diesel engines

In terms of engine and clutch compatibility, the NV3500 is designed to work with lighter-duty engines, such as those found in GM and Chevy vehicles.

Conversely, the NV4500 is built to handle heavier-duty engines, making it a more suitable choice for vehicles like the Dodge, Jeep, and those with Cummins diesel engines.

Structural Features

Transfer Case and Bellhousing

The NV3500 transmission has an integrated aluminum bellhousing, making it compact for light duty applications.

In contrast, the NV4500 transmission features a cast iron case with a bolt-on aluminum bellhousing, allowing it to handle a higher load rating for heavy duty applications.

  • NV3500: Integrated aluminum bellhousing
  • NV4500: Cast iron case with bolt-on aluminum bellhousing

Input and Output Shafts

Different input and output shafts are designed for each transmission, considering their respective vehicle applications:


  • Light-duty input shaft
  • Compatible with smaller vehicles


  • Heavy-duty input shaft
  • Suitable for larger, more powerful vehicles

Shift Mechanisms

Both transmissions utilize a top-mounted tower shifter, but they differ in their specific design:

Shift MechanismShift railShift rail
Shifter TypeTop-mounted tower shifterTop-mounted tower shifter
Shift GatesShift gates integrated designShift gates integrated design
Additional FeaturesAluminum top coverShift lever extension

In summary, the NV3500 and NV4500 transmissions differ in their structural features, offering distinct benefits for respective vehicle needs.

These differences in transfer case, bellhousing, input and output shafts, as well as shift mechanisms, cater to light or heavy-duty requirements.

Sawdust In The Transmission

Specifications and Gear Ratios

NV3500 Specs

The NV3500 is a 5-speed manual transmission with an overdrive gear. Its main features include:

  • Two-piece aluminum case
  • Integrated bell housing
  • Top-mounted tower shifter

When it comes to gear ratios, the NV3500 has:

  1. First: 4.02
  2. Second: 2.32
  3. Third: 1.40
  4. Fourth: 1.00
  5. Fifth: 0.73

This transmission is used in compact and full-size light trucks by General Motors and Dodge.

NV4500 Specs

On the other hand, the NV4500 is a 5-speed manual transmission with a few more features:

  • Cast iron case with bolt-on aluminum bell housing
  • Power Take-Off (PTO) ports
  • Granny first gear for additional torque

The NV4500’s gear ratios are:

  1. First: 5.61
  2. Second: 3.04
  3. Third: 1.67
  4. Fourth: 1.00
  5. Fifth: 0.75
  6. Sixth: 0.62

This transmission is found in various full-size trucks by both General Motors and Dodge.

In summary, both the NV3500 and NV4500 are capable transmissions featuring different gear ratios and characteristics to suit various vehicles and applications.

The choice between the two comes down to your specific needs and preferences in terms of gear ratios, load capacity, and Power Take-Off capabilities.

Adaptability and Vehicle Compatibility

Compatibility with Light Trucks and SUVs

The NV3500 transmission is suitable for light-duty applications and is commonly found in compact and full-size light trucks, as well as SUVs.

With its 5-speed manual design, this transmission is considered a reliable option for vehicles like Chevrolet and GMC trucks.

For example, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 often come equipped with an NV3500 transmission.

  • Pros of NV3500 for Light Trucks and SUVs:

    • Lightweight and durable construction
    • Suitable for a variety of Chevrolet and GMC models
    • Generally reliable and easy to maintain
  • Cons of NV3500 for Light Trucks and SUVs:

    • Not suitable for heavy-duty applications
    • Limited to 5-speed manual transmission

Compatibility with Heavy Trucks

On the other hand, the NV4500 transmission is designed for heavy-duty applications and is frequently found in larger, more powerful vehicles like Dodge and GM trucks.

With its 5-speed design and higher load rating, the NV4500 offers increased performance and versatility for drivers who require a more robust transmission.

Some examples of heavy trucks that utilize an NV4500 transmission include the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500, as well as GM heavy-duty trucks such as the Chevy Silverado 2500HD and GMC Sierra 2500HD.

ApplicationLight Trucks/SUVsHeavy Trucks
Speeds5-speed manual5-speed manual/automatic
Load RatingLight-dutyHeavy-duty
ExamplesChevy Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500Dodge Ram 2500/3500, Chevy Silverado 2500HD, GMC Sierra 2500HD

The NV4500 transmission’s adaptation to heavy trucks presents several advantages and disadvantages:

  • Pros of NV4500 for Heavy Trucks:

    • Higher load rating and heavy-duty performance
    • Available in both manual and automatic configurations
    • Compatible with various Dodge and GM trucks
  • Cons of NV4500 for Heavy Trucks:

    • Heavier and more complex than the NV3500
    • More costly to maintain and repair

Performance and Efficiency

Vibration and Noise

You may notice differences in vibration and noise between the NV3500 and NV4500. The NV3500 is a lighter-duty transmission, often found in smaller vehicles.

Its aluminum construction may make it more prone to noise and vibrations, while the NV4500’s cast iron case with bolt-on aluminum bellhousing provides more dampening and reduces vibrations.

Furthermore, NV4500 possesses stronger components, which can handle higher loads and make it less noisy.

RPM and Power

Both transmissions have different RPM and power capabilities. The NV3500 is suitable for lower torque and horsepower applications, while the NV4500 is designed to handle a wider range of engines and higher torque loads.

One example is that they work best on larger and more powerful vehicles. NV4500’s heavy-duty nature and the addition of a granny first gear allow it to manage better low-end torque.

Efficiency Comparison

Comparing efficiency between the NV3500 and NV4500, it’s essential to consider their application and the type of vehicles they are used in:

  • NV3500 excels in smaller vehicles, where its lightweight design can support fuel efficiency
  • NV4500, with its robust construction and higher torque rating, performs well in more substantial, high-powered vehicles

It’s essential to choose the transmission based on your vehicle to ensure optimal performance and efficiency.

Maintenance and Rebuild

Oil Change and Maintenance

When it comes to the NV3500 and NV4500 transmissions, regular maintenance is crucial for their longevity. For both transmissions, you’ll need to change the gear oil periodically.

While the specific intervals may vary depending on your vehicle, a general rule of thumb is every 30,000 to 40,000 miles.

The NV3500 typically uses a mechanical clutch system, which requires periodic adjustments. In comparison, the NV4500 often features a hydraulic actuation system, minimizing the need for adjustments and maintenance.

Rebuilding the Transmission

If your NV3500 or NV4500 transmission requires a rebuild, you’ll find that both have their own pros and cons. When rebuilding the NV3500 transmission, some characteristics include:

  • Light-duty and suitable for smaller vehicles
  • Lower costs for rebuild components
  • Suitable for replacing worn-out parts on the NV3500 transmission

On the other hand, for the NV4500 transmission rebuild:

  • Heavy-duty and ideal for larger vehicles or towing capacity
  • Higher costs for more robust rebuild components
  • Selectable snap rings for ease of assembly and disassembly
Rebuild DifficultyModerateModerate to High
Parts AvailabilityGoodGood

Remember to consult your vehicle’s maintenance manual for specific guidelines on rebuilding and maintaining your NV3500 or NV4500 transmission to ensure their efficient performance and longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the torque ratings of NV3500 and NV4500?

The NV3500 is a light-duty transmission with a torque rating of around 300 lb-ft, making it suitable for smaller vehicles. The NV4500, on the other hand, is a heavy-duty transmission with a torque rating of up to 460 lb-ft, which can handle larger and more powerful vehicles.

How do NV3500 and NV4500 gear ratios compare?

The NV3500 has a 5-speed manual transmission with gear ratios that vary based on the specific vehicle it’s used in. The NV4500, however, is a 5-speed automatic transmission with gear ratios specifically designed for heavy-duty applications. The NV4500’s extra gear allows it to handle higher torque loads and provide better fuel efficiency.

Can you swap NV3500 with NV4500 in a Dodge?

Swapping an NV3500 with an NV4500 in a Dodge is possible, but it may require some modifications to the vehicle. For example, the NV4500 might need a different bellhousing, clutch assembly, or driveshafts. Additionally, there could be issues with the vehicle’s electronics or engine control systems. It’s important to consult with a professional mechanic for guidance.

What are the main differences between NV3500 and NV4500?

  • NV3500 is a 5-speed manual transmission; NV4500 is a 5-speed automatic transmission
  • NV3500 is light-duty with a lower torque rating; NV4500 is heavy-duty with a higher torque rating
  • NV3500 is mainly used in smaller vehicles; NV4500 is used in larger, more powerful vehicles

How does NV3500 perform compared to NV3550?

The NV3500 and NV3550 are both 5-speed manual transmissions, but they have different torque ratings and applications. The NV3500 is suitable for light-duty applications with a torque rating of around 300 lb-ft, whereas the NV3550 has a slightly higher torque rating of approximately 380 lb-ft. The NV3550 is often found in vehicles like Jeep Wranglers and some Dodge Dakota pickups.

What are the main applications for NV3500 transmission?

The NV3500 transmission is most commonly found in smaller vehicles, such as Chevrolet and GMC trucks, as well as the Dodge Ram 1500. It is designed for light-duty applications and works well with standard rear-wheel-drive cars, vans, and light trucks.


In summary, both the NV3500 and NV4500 transmissions have their unique purposes and strengths.

The NV3500 is suitable for light-duty applications and serves smaller vehicles well. On the other hand, the NV4500 is designed for heavy-duty purposes and fits larger, more powerful vehicles.

Here’s a quick comparison table for your reference:

Transmission Type5-speed manual5-speed automatic
MaterialAluminumCast iron
Vehicle SizeSmaller VehiclesLarger Vehicles

Some key points to consider when choosing between the two are:

  • NV3500 is lighter and more suitable for small trucks and SUVs.
  • NV4500 is built with a cast iron case, offering durability and strength for heavy-duty tasks.

Remember to think about your specific requirements and preferences before making a decision. Both transmissions have proven their reliability, with the NV3500 being lighter and the NV4500 offering more robust performance.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.