700R4 Transmission – Everything You Need To Know

The 700R4 is a 4-speed automatic transmission produced by General Motors in the mid-1980s. It is classified as an overdrive transmission because it has an overdrive mode in high gear. 

The 700R4 transmission is used in many vehicles, including the Chevrolet and GMC light trucks, Corvette, and P30 Chassis B-Series/C-Series vans. 

This article will cover everything you need about the 700R4 transmission, and we’ll also discuss its problems and upgrades.

700R4 Transmission

The 700R4 automatic transmission was designed in the 1980s by General Motors to upgrade the 3-speed TH350 transmission and provide an alternative for rear-wheel-drive cars. It’s also popularly known as the Turbo Hydra-Matic 4L60.

The 700R4 transmission was used extensively in vehicle models such as the Chevrolet Corvette and Blazer, Oldsmobile 350 diesel, and lighter trucks like the GMC Sprint. The 700R4 transmission is an automatic four-speed overdrive and, transaxle transmission which features a torque converter lockup clutch. 

This transmission has 35 different provisions for cold start, high idle, takeoff, and various other requirements that ensure that trucks of various types can be driven without any issues. 

The 4L60E was one of many upgrades to the 7th Generation of the small block engine family from Chevrolet. At the time, it was one of only two options available for gear ratios.

Vehicles With The 700R4 Transmission

Between 1982 and 1993, the 700R4 Transmission was found in automobiles. It could be found in trucks or rear-wheel-drive cars, including:

Chevy Models

Blazer: 1982-1991

Caprice 1982-1992

Corvette: 1982-1992

Camaro: 1983-1992

Suburban: 1984-1992

Astro Van: 1985-1992

S10 Blazer: 1989-1992

S10 Pickup: 1989-1991

Cadillac Models

Fleetwood: 1990-1992

Brougham: 1990-1992

Limousine: 1990-1992

GMC Models

Jimmy: 1982-1993

Safari Van: 1983-1990

Syclone: 1991-1992

1983-1991: S10 / Sonoma S15

1983-1991: S15 Pickup

Other Car Models

Pontiac Firebird: 1983-1992

Buick Lesabre: 1984

Holden Commodore: 1988-1992

This being the case, the 700R4 (4L60) was widely used in 1992. The 700R4 was also produced in 1993 for the Corvette, Camaro, and Typhoon.

700R4 Performance Specifications

The 700R4 was a 4-speed transmission, as mentioned earlier. The 700R4 transmission was replaced with a newer version in 1990 called 4L60E. Although changing its name didn’t change its appearance or technical makeup, it did bring about some design “tweaks” that made it more efficient, effective, and pleasing for one to use.

700R4 transmission was meant to be used in bigger vehicles responsible for transporting a lot of cargo. It can handle applications with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of up to 6000 lbs. This transmission has three gears: the first gear has a ratio of 1.63, and the second has a ratio of 1.16. The third gear provides 0.75 relative reductions, and the fourth uses 2.9 relative reductions as well as having reverse geared at 2.9

700R4 Build

700R4 Transmission

General Motors’ Hydramatic overdrive transmission, also known as the 700R4 transmission, is considered one of the best transmissions ever made because of its innovative design. The transmission was created to replace the TH350 transmission and help car owners achieve better fuel economy.

The 700R4 transmission case comprises a single piece of cast aluminum. The four-speed transmission measures 23.4 inches in length and weighs 155 pounds. 

It holds about 11 quarts total of transmission fluid; the sum of each gear has been calculated to be as wide as possible to avoid overdrives which would alter the engine’s torque, resulting in wheelspin and waste fuel at low speed while delivering consistent high-speed power.

The new 4L60 transmission featured a lower first gear ratio, allowing the engine to perform better at low speeds. However, the 30-minute overdrive improved fuel efficiency by increasing the length of each gear change. 

However, Between the years 1991 and 1993, the most significant change when it comes to transmissions happened. Computer chips were put into use for automatic transmissions, and this, in turn, ended the 700R4 transmission.

Also Read: Transmission Fluid Colors & What They Mean

700r4 Problems

The following are common 700R4 transmission Problems

1. Overheating

Overheating is another major issue that’s common with the 700R4 transmission, resulting from its high power output or heavy use to drive vehicles that require it.

Even if there are no mechanically-related problems occurring, the transmission will eventually experience internal damage when the ATF temperature rises.

Many owners install an auxiliary transmission cooler, which prevents these issues before they start, saves a lot of time and money overall, and increases safety.

2. Broken Input Shaft

Early versions of the 700R4 had 27 spline input shafts. Unfortunately, these shafts could not handle tremendous torque, which caused them to break often. 

Additionally, the 700R4 had a weak 2nd gear synchromesh design that resulted in transmission breakdown in some cases. Fortunately, the 700R4 improved significantly by 1987 after General Motors incorporated 30 spline input shafts, which addressed reliability and performance issues!

3. Warped Valve Body

Overheating the 700R4 transmission can cause the valve body to become warped, severely affecting your car’s performance.

This could lead to costly repairs since your gears may no longer shift properly to transfer power from one crankshaft to the next.

4. Stuck Governor

Dirty transmission fluid can result in the springs and gears being stuck at uncomfortable positions, resulting in inefficient working. 

Make sure your 700R4 is serviced regularly so that you’re steering smoothly down roads.

5. 3-4 Clutch Pack Failure

If you find yourself stuck in the third or fourth gear, it could indicate a problem with your 700r4 transmission clutch pack.

Overheating can cause the discs of the 700r4 transmission 3-4 clutch pack to become less durable, resulting in sheared ends which can lead to serious problems in the long run for the vehicle.

700R4 vs. 4L60

In 1990, GM changed the name of the 700R4 transmission to the 4L60 (4-spd-transmission longitudinally designed for cars weighing up to 6,000 lbs GVWR) even though it was identical to the 700R4 transmission without any significant modifications.

However, The 4L60 was upgraded to be electronically controlled instead of using a hydraulic system, and it also contained more than one engine speed sensor.

The 700R4 transmission was renamed the 4L60E transmission after automated electronic controls replaced the hydraulic shifting system. The 700R4 cannot easily be swapped for 4L60E, as the 4L60E uses a powertrain control module (PCM).

Also Read: Why Are BMW Cars Called Beemer?

700R4 Transmission Updates

After its launch, specific updates were made to 700R4’s Transmission. These were:

1. Spline Shaft

For 1984, the 700R4 transmission featured a 30 spline input shaft instead of a 27 spline shaft found in the TH400 transmissions. The 30 spline upgrade was intended to reduce the fracturing and failure occurring on earlier versions of the transmissions.

2. Electronic Controls

As the 700R4 transmission was rebranded as 4L60, New technologies were introduced into the transmission’s controls and electronics. The new system relied on electronics to electronically control fluid pressure, which eliminated the need for hydraulic fluid.

Also, A Vehicle Speed Sensor was used to let the ECM (Engine Control Module) know when the vehicle speed exceeded a certain threshold.

3. Internal Components

The internal components of 700R4s were also changed during the upgrades. From 1984 – 1987 the oil pump housing and ring gear were updated. In 1986 auxiliary valve bodies were added to the 700R4 transmissions as well.

Frequently Asked Question

Is the 700R4 Transmission any good?

General Motors/Hydramatic’s 700R4 overdrive transmission is one of the most prestigious Transmissions. The Transmission featured a lower first gear ratio which allowed for better performance at low speeds. Additionally, the 30% overdrive was able to improve fuel economy.

How much horsepower can a 700R4 handle?

700R4 can handle about 550 horsepower maximum. However, with the HD input drum, it can be used for 625 horsepower maximum.

Does 700R4 need a computer?

A 700R4 can be used with or without a Lockup converter. If the temperature is correct and the cooling lines flow freely, it won’t overheat.

Which Transmission is better, TH350 or 700R4?

A vehicle with 4.11 gearing will not be as loud as a TH350, but it will keep the engine within the powerband for longer. The 700R4 shifts from a 1.62 1-2 to 3.06, which is a lot more aggressive than the Turbo 350s 1.74 -> 1.57. The TH350 will keep the vehicle in the powerband for longer.

What year 700R4 is the best?

It is better to choose the newest model, TH700R4, if you find more than one transmission. Throughout its existence, design improvements were made constantly. The most sought-after 1987 and higher TH700R4s units or 1990-’93 4-L60 units are generally the best.

Is a 700R4better than the TH400?

A 700R4 is the best for daily driving on the highway. The TH400 is the best for a mudder truck. It all depends on the motive of the rig. The TH400 has stronger but doesn’t have overdrive. Also, the first gear is only 2.48 to 1. Although the 700R4 has an overdrive (0.7:1) and a 3.06/1 first gear, it is not as powerful.

Is a 700R4 good for drag racing?

Racing using a 700R4 stock can cause damage to the transmission, compromise the O/D band integrity, reduce your performance in a drag race, and even spoil the transmission. A 700R4 custom-built is made from stronger stuff and reduces the lag caused by slow and sloppy shifts.

Are all 700R4 transmissions lock up?

Every 700r4 is a lockup transmission.

Is the 700R4 equivalent to a 4L60?

A 700R4 and a 4L60 are both the same transmission.

Can 700R4 handle 454?

A stock 454 will not kill a stock 700r4 except you intend on towing it or hot rodding it someday. You’ll struggle with weak parts such as the planetary, powerband, and output shaft once you have upgraded it. If you plan on building or towing an engine, all of these should be upgraded.

Conclusion

The 700R4 automatic was manufactured by General Motors in 1989 to replace the old 3-speed TH350 transmission and is found in rear-wheel drive vehicles. It is also popularly known as the Turbo Hydra-Matic 4T60.

The 700R4 transmission is a popular model for classic car enthusiasts because it has exhibited fewer transmission issues than its predecessors. Though this transmission is still available in some cars today, it’s considered a legacy transmission, meaning that it’s more for those who enjoy working on classic cars than those looking for a more high-tech transmission to handle their daily commute.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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