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1978 Chevy C10 - Shifter doesn't work

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New User

Nov 8, 2013, 2:17 PM

Post #1 of 2 (1309 views)
1978 Chevy C10 - Shifter doesn't work Sign In

Recently bought a 1978 Chevy C10 4x4 “Heavy 1/2 ton” 350 V8 Turbo 400
“Less that 2,000 miles on crate motor and trans re-build” according to the sign in the window. Paid $3100 cash. It is in very good aesthetic condition and has an 8,000lb Ramsey winch on it. This truck is my hunting/camping/firewood truck, which is pretty much what it has always been used for, based on what the previous owner said and guessing from numerous small modifications it has (additional tie-down points, hitch, etc).

This truck NOT my daily driver, but recently my friend was driving it around town while his car was in the shop. Then I got the dreaded phone call, “Dude, your truck is broken.” Apparently, my friend parked my truck outside his house one night and the next morning it started up fine, but the shifter doesn’t do anything.

Because I’m not in dire need of this truck working, I found a mobile mechanic via Craigslist and he came took a look at it. This mechanic is a younger guy and doesn’t seem to be an expert in older trucks, but he was suspect about the rebuilt engine/tranny. Regardless, here are the symptoms:

- there was no obvious transmission blow out. It ran fine one day and just wouldnt shift the next morning. There is no clanking or any other unusual sounds
- fluid levels were/are normal
- The “three on the tree” shifter still moves and feels like its shifting, but produces no results.
- the rod going into the transmission moves when the shifter is moved.
- The truck is currently in “Neutral”
- the brake DOES NOT need to be depressed in order for one to move the shifter, **that is a new development**
- the mechanic pointed out that no transmission fluid comes out of the hose that is connected to the radiator when that is disconnected while the engine is running (and warmed up)

Possible problem(s), according to my mechanic, friends, and coworkers:
1) transmission filter is clogged
2) transmission pump is dead
3) the transmission is dead
4) the transmission isn't vacuumed

1) take off the pan and see what’s going on/replace the filter
2) Rather than dump $1500+ into this truck that is basically my glorified ATV, buy a ‘new’ transmission (or even a wrecker to cannibalize) and just swap ‘em. I believe a variety of Chevy/GMC trannys will fit my truck

What do you all recommend?

Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

Nov 8, 2013, 5:01 PM

Post #2 of 2 (1275 views)
Re: 1978 Chevy C10 - Shifter doesn't work Sign In

I agree with the possible causes. The choice of going into the transmission and seeing what went wrong and to determine if it needs to be overhauled or swapping the entire transmission out is entirely up to you. Regardless of your choice transmission is going to have to come out.

Have you done some price shopping to see if an overhaul or swapping is more cost effective. If you get a 400 out of the salvage yard, it may be in worse shape than the one that is in it, so make sure it has some sort of warranty before you take it out the door.

Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

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