GM opens official investigation into C8 Corvette transmission leaks

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In March 2020, a month after Chevrolet began customer deliveries of the 2020 C8 Corvette, a GM dealer technician created a Reddit thread about a leaking gearbox in a Corvette with 32 miles. That car hadn't even been sold yet. Since then, as a search of "C8 Corvette transmission leak" shows, it's been tales of woe for some owners. Something in the Tremec TR-9080 transaxle in the back of the mid-engined Corvette doesn't work as it should, the fault able to cause codes that the transmission needs service, or that the driver needs to shift to park. In some cases, the battery would die because of follow-on issues after the initial transmission code, that code preventing the car from powering down. As Autoevolution reports, GM filed paperwork with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in August to look into what's going on.

Between forum threads and GM's investigation document, there are several issues mentioned. The most common appears to be the dual-clutch transmission leaking fluid due to gasket failures like the one suffered by one owner at 858 miles, and another for an owner currently enduring a second leaking transmission. The Midengined Corvette Forum reported that Chevy engineers redesigned the TR-9080 pan, fitting Corvettes with the new unit at some point in the 2021 model year. The original pan was stamped steel unit affixed to the engine with two studs and 13 bolts, plus "reinforcement plates." The updated pan is said to be a cast aluminum unit affixed with two studs and 17 bolts, omits the reinforcement plates, and gets a new machined new groove around its edge to seat the gasket seal.

The GM paperwork now at the NHTSA mentions a P1789 code, and says one reason for it could be "debris on the park position sensor magnet causing an incorrect position reading to the TCM." This might be caused by another issue mentioned in forums, which is clogged transmission filters. GM gives instructions for returning transmission filters to the company, and a poster on one forum said the Corvette tech at the dealer where he bought his Corvette told him the automaker "requires every used transmission filter to be returned to GM."

Whatever's going on, the problems haven't stopped, and they go beyond the P1789 code. Over the weekend, a 2022 Corvette owner posted on Corvette Forums that he got a check engine light on his car after just 850 miles. A trip to the dealer returned a "P1961 code [that] shows the transmission needs to be replaced."

We have no idea of the scope of the issue. The failure numbers are large enough for GM to look into the matter, but small enough so far for the NHTSA not to get involved. The federal agency only shows 21 total complaints for the 2020 Corvette, and none for the 2021.

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