To rebuild or not to and just runaway


I recently bought a 1985 chevy caprice wagon, about one month ago. 142,000 on it for 800 bucks. I was told the transmission(700R4) was rebuilt at about 100,000. It has run fine until I brought it in to start my to do list. Signal Garage is triple AAA certified, and I had brought cars to them before. They had a promo going on bring in a bag of food for food drive to get new brakes in case I needed them. My mechanic smelled a lot of fuel and there was a small amount of fuel leaking (about 1/4 cup a day is my guess), very small near the right front behind the drivers side wheel. So I thought lets get the fuel filter changed and maybe a leak could be detected instead of paying labor to having them look for a couple hours or so. Only because i have a tight budget. Stick with me here. Anyway they also replaced vacuum tubes that broke during changing fuel filter. 92.00 bucks. Well a week later I was driving and felt a delay in engagement. Reving pretty high at about 20mph. Then it felt like it was losing some power. So I brought it back to Signal garage. They said they think its shift linkage and said they didn’t think they are certified to touch it because it could be inside transmission. Okay I say I bring it to AAMCO transmissions. I was told it has something to do with the reverse that it keeps wanting to go into reverse and he has got to go in there and cant just fix that specific problem cuz he liable for anything else that might go wrong in there so he has to rebuild and the cost would be 1,000 to 1,300. Yikes! He went on to say the “200r4’s are notorious for those problems” I decided to get a 3rd opinion. I went to Kennedy, was told it’s a sticky valve inside the transmission, and everything up top seems fine. I was recommended from Signal Garage to see this specific mechanic at Kennedy. Well this diagnosis was a quick drive around and looking at the car on the ground. He said I could unstick the valve by removing the debris that is probably in there but it will probably happen again. It would cost about 1,000 to do this. Again I didn’t have the money and am so desiring a simple even 500 would feel better. OH and it actually was a 700R4. My trust level has shrunk and my wallet isn’t any bigger. He said he could put in lube-gard for 20 bucks. I said great we will see if it magically unsticks itself. I also inquired why not just get a flush and he said the debris will just happen again. Now I know this has been a lengthy article but so has this issue. Please help me. That’s assuming you are still reading this novel.


I’m surprised no one has suggested changing the transmission fluid. Not flushing, just drain and replace. It may help and it may not, but it’s the least expensive thing you can do.

Automatic transmissions are expensive to repair or rebuild, and an $800 car is always something of a gamble. The $1,000 or more the transmission may cost might be better spent looking for another vehicle. Good luck.


If it is suspected something sticking is causing the problem you might try adding a can of SeaFoam Transtune to the fluid.
Another possibility is to add a can of Berryman B-12 Chemtool to the trans fluid if the SeaFoam is not available locally.

I don’t understand how they know there is such an alleged debris problem in there unless they drop the pan. They’re theorizing and making an educated guess is all.

A trans shop is correct about tearing into one though. There should be no piece-meal work; it should be a proper, total rebuild.

If the SeaFoam or Berryman does not cure it and if comes down to changing the transmission, why not just swap it out with a used unit?
Used ones are plentiful in the yards, trade papers, eBay, etc. I see the advertised all the time here for a 100 bucks or thereabouts.
I bought a used one a couple of years ago for 50 dollars and they even threw in the driveline.


AAMCO = All Automatics Must Come Out. I wouldn’t trust them with my lawnmower.

The suggestion of a used unit, or a complete wrecked parts car that was running when it was wrecked, is the cheapest way out.


Thankyou for replying ok4450.

I will try the Sea Foam, and get a flush done. I dont know why they didnt want to even take my money for a flush.
I have seen transmissions for sale on e-bay and craigs list for 50 to 100.

As I see the reply by MG about getting the tranny from a wrecked car that was running makes sense. There is decent junk yard that I’ve used before that I could go and how do I know if I consider buying a tranny from the aboved named place that i am not getting something the same as mine or worse. Any tips on judging?


Yes AAMCO will forever be given the evil eye.

Thanks for the suggestion on getting one from a used to running car.


I have suggested the flush to kennedy but he didnt want too. Signal Garage did and that was on my to do list of tuning up me car. I did not get to it before the delay of engagement. I will do all the simple stuff first and keep on keeping on.

If the flush doesnt work my next vehicle is the bus.

Thanks for the good and luck…:slight_smile: