Upgrades for the GM 700R4 TransmissionShift kit for GM's electronic 4-Speed
Article updated October 2011
The GM 700R4 is the transmission swap of choice for a lot of rodders. The high performance tranny can be flawless, with the help of a transmission shift kit.
You aren't shifting for yourself anymore: The discerning rodder has equipped himself with a real 4-speed overdrive automatic. This isn't a slushbox either, it's the true hi-po GM 700R4 factory unit, supplied in Vettes, Camaros, Caprice police cars and lots of trucks. Swap kits are available in magazines and on the web for retrofitting a GM 700R4 into all sorts of cars and trucks. There's only one problem...
Introduced in 1982, the GM 700R4 electronic 4-speed automatic was a quantum leap forward for factory transmission performance. Originally used by the factory in a variety of GM vehicles, of late it has become a popular transmission to retrofit into non-stock applications. As with any good thing, though, the 700R4 has a flaw. The throttle valve in the valve body has a tendency to hang up, causing the trans to hold or get stuck in low gears. This defect is unique to the 700R4, but trans-upgrade kits are available that improve shifting performance and eliminate the throttle-valve hang-up problem.
An opportunity arose for us to attack this defect ourselves in a '71 Camaro that has a swapped-in '93 700R4. It suffers from the sticky throttle-valve problem. Our plan is to put the car on jackstands, open the trans pan and fix what ails it. We purchased a popular shift kit, which includes the remedy for our hanging valve, as well as massages the 700R4, improving driving and shift quality.
Be sure you have the exact-size drill bits and a fine-tooth file. Have a solvent or brake cleaner available to clean parts as they're removed. You'll need a big receptacle (like one of those large plastic oil-draining cans) for catching the transmission fluid, a floorjack and jackstands to lift your vehicle, and a level, protected area (your garage-) to make the install a little more comfortable. The transmission doesn't have to be removed from the vehicle, but the pan and valve body must be dropped out. You will also need five quarts of transmission fluid to refill the gearbox when you're finished. Don't forget proper lighting. Be sure to study all available instructions before starting out-the more you know beforehand the better.
With the help of a tranny shift kit, that GM 700R4 will truly live up to its reputation as a high-performance unit. Prepare for this upgrade properly, and you'll find it really is a fairly simple procedure. Or, if you'd rather not handle the job yourself, a profession transmission shop can easily install a shift kit for you.
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