1986 Caprice transmission dead

I'm looking at buying a 350/V8 Caprice with 160K miles on it. It sits parked where it was towed becuase of transmission failure. Apparantly it does not go forwards or backwards now. The body is in good shape, no
wrecks. The owner removed the radiator and will put it back to show the engine running.
Sooooo, it is my hunch that he took the radiator out becuase of a coolant to transmission cooling loop leak in the radiator, thus causing the transmission to fail. I believe this car has the TH700R4 transmission in it.
My question is how much damage is this transmission likely to have sustained if coolant is inside? Is it possible that a good draining and replenishment of the fluid might make it run or will it need to be torn down? I was thining that an intermediate step with WD40 would dry things out. Is this wishful thinking?
John
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After an accident with my 73 Impala in 1980, my radiator suffered internal damage where the transmission oil & antifreeze mixed together. A few days after the wreck I was at my uncles house, the car was running on the street and smoke or steam poured out of the hood vents. Quickly opened the hood to discover oil & anitfreeze shooting out the trans dipstick filler tube.
Drove home ( 5 houses away ) parked it in the garage. Pulled the radiator out & sent it to be repaired, drained the trans oil and my dad drilled a hole in the torque converter to drain in. Put in a pipe plug to seal it. After the radiator was fixed I drove it for a day and re drained the trans & converter. I didn't have any trans trouble, but of course it may of only run with antifreeze for those few minutes it was running in front of my uncles house. Were really not sure.
Good Luck
========Harryface ======== 1991 Pontiac Bonneville LE ~_~_~267,018 miles_~_~_
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John,
Wouldn't it be easier to find a car with a good trans in it? An '86 Caprice is not a keeper. No real value.
If coolant gets in the trans, it's a complete rebuild. All gaskets and seals need to be replaced. You might as well throw a remanufactured trans in. Coolant in the trans destroys the rubber stuff in the trans. It's shot. There is no fluid you can pour into the trans to save it.
Why bother? You'll never get your money back.
GMdude
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I just checked www.car-part.com. Prices average about $400 for a used 700R4, and another couple hundred for a quality new (Modine) radiator. You can probably use this website to find a local yard, and get both there. Or call around your area and get one cheaper. Make sure there is some sort of warranty (at least 90 days) Me personally, I would spend $600 to get a decent running, decent looking, reliable daily driver fixed than take a chance on a new car. Plus your taking a chance either way. Junkyard tranny could be crap, new car could end up being crap. Saving grace...350 motor with 160K on it. I would lean on fixing the car especially if is going to be around for a while.

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Thanks to all who replied. I looked on eBay and there are some transmission folks there who sell the THM700R4 transmissions rebuilt and guaranteed for around $500. Advanced Auto has an imported radiator for $90 that will fit the car, or a transmission cooler could be added and the transmission loop plugged. I've had good luck with that aftermarket radiator though there is quite a bit less copper in it than the original part.
I realize that the B-body cars are not collector's items and 160K miles is not exactly new. But I have a Caprice of that era with 225K miles (also bought at 160K miles). It's cost me less than $4000 total for these 65K miles, a price that is difficult to beat. When something goes wrong it's not nearly as disappointing as buying something brand new, just to find out it is fraught with issues. I like the ride of these older boats since I have chronic pain. The sportier harsh ride a collector's item muscle car dishes out is too much for these old bones.
The last vehicle I bought brand new was a 1982 Dodge pickup with the slant six motor. The slant six had a reputation for running 250K miles in taxi cabs and going some more after a rebuild. Dodge destroyed the design for 1982. It was assembled loose, emission cam installed, leaned out carter carb thrown on top and a spark control unit that is always confused was thrown if for good measure. It pings on premium gas and has been a great let down. It burned plenty of oil, right off the showroom floor. The carb shakes apart every year or two and needs to be rebuilt/reassembled. It takes several trys to pass emissions testing too. When it was brand new and in the Dodge dealership the eighth time for engine predetonation becuase of the "lean burn" crap, the dealer shop advisor said "why don't you just drive it?" After thinking about his statement, I decided that this was the best way to retaliate with Detroit for selling a vehicle with such poor mechanicals, so I keep repairing it and keep driving it. The truck now has 150K miles on it. It's got rust issues too, Something the GM's in 86 and later don't seem to have.
The 96 Taraus my wife bought used beats the hell out of me. There are no grease fittings. The ball joint is serviced by replacing the entire steering knuckle assembly. There is no drain cock for the cooling system, so one gets antifreeze everywhere while pulling hoses off it to drain it out. The brake rotors won't stay true. (One visit to a tire shop with an impact wrench is all it takes to permenantly warp them. It's not very repairable without lots of special tools. Even replacing the radiator is a major debacle compared with the 45 minutes it takes to swap out the radiator in the Caprice.
This Caprice is a gamble because it can't be test driven. It might be a better buy because of that though, because the transmission will be a known quantity once replaced. About the only other serious problem would be the 350 engine mechanicals. The car shows no signs of accidents. Brakes, shocks and the like are fairly inexpensive. The front end parts actually have grease fittings, unlike the newer Taraus where a "sealed" ball joint is serviced as an assembly including the steering knuckle.
It could turn into a money pit though. Kind of like the old story about the fellow who threw a $20 bill down the outhouse hole after dropping a quarter. His reasoning: "You don't think I'm going down there for a lousy 25 cents do you?"
So, GMdude, if you have some comments about other pitfalls I'm listening. I realize that the impala/caprice is not a collector's car and restoring it won't make it valuable to anyone else. That is not my concern, really. If I can plunk $2000 into this ride and get 40K comfortable miles out of it, I would consider it a bargain.
Hopefully I can tell something about the engine and the A/C when the seller finds the keys and pops the radiator in long enough to watch it run and look for exhaust smoke.
Did GM get away from using the nylon timing gear on the 350's by 1986? What other weak areas might this car have?
John
eightupman wrote:

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I have an 85 Caprice with the 305 engine, not the 350. 350,000 miles on it. Valve covers have never been off. Only problems were the external stuff like gas pump, alt, power steering pump, etc.
Bought it in 89 with 57,000 miles. Have almost junked it a few times when mechs told me it needed major work, like the time I had blue smoke, which turned out to only be a $12 choke pull-off valve, not a rebuild !! It just keeps running. I have a bad trans fluid leak, and some a/f leaks from the rear intake manifold, but I just live with it.
Of course this is the 305, not the 350...
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By the way, I got a new 3-row radiator from AutoZone 3 years ago for $74, lifetime guarantee. Been fine so far.
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