97 Suburban 2500 454, bad torque converter?

borison

Adventurer
I’m thinking about looking at a 1997 Suburban 2500, leather, 255k miles. It has the 454 and the guy is selling it cheapish as it’s not running. I talked to him and he said he (and a mechanic friend) thinks it’s the torque converter. He described it as feeling it’s “always under load”. I can’t do the work myself, so I would have to get a screaming deal. If I go inspect it, what should I be checking? Could this be as simple as replacing a torque converter or do you replace the transmission? Or something in between? I know there’s a lot more to know about the rig and it’s behavior, but is this worth it considering I’d have to farm out the work? I really like the 2500 and 454. My plan would be to get it running, baseline it and then work out the worn parts. I know this could be a huge money pit, but ultimately cheaper than a new rig. It wouldn’t be my dd, so I don’t have to do it all at once. What should I considering here?
 
D

Deleted member 9101

Guest
If it was me, I would just factor in getting a new TQ converter and a tranny rebuild. Usually if one goes, the other is not far behind.
 

borison

Adventurer
I was kind of thinking that, if you’re in there, might as well do it all. How do I price that? Just as a new tc and tranny rebuild?
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
Seemed like the trans/TQ were acting up in my 98 GMC 350, often felt like truck was under load, trans hunting for gear, TQ not locking and unlocking as it should, wrong gear much of the time, needed full throttle to kick down, horrible gas mileage, etc. Cause turned out to be a bad mass air flow sensor. Changed the MAF sensor and trans is perfect again. But that gen of GM trucks is known for trans problems, so the seller's mechanic is probably correct.
 

borison

Adventurer
So any ballpark figures for getting these issues sorted through? I know it’s a wide range of $$$, but I’m just trying to see if I could budget that beast.
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
OP when you say 'can't' do you mean a physical incapacity or just a lack of knowledge? It's a pretty straightforward task to pull a transmission and swap in a new torque converter. Takes a few basic tools and a little bit of strength and caution.

Paying a small shop to rebuild or swap in a rebuilt 4L60E will cost from about $1400 to whatever the sucker will bear. A torque converter alone is $100-500 for the part, depending on sourcing and quality. A capable shade-tree mechanic can pull one from a scrapyard for the lower price. And it would be the place to start with the info you have.
But it also might be a false hope offered by the seller, a bad torque converter could give you the sluggish performance mentioned, but so could several other more costly transmission issues. 'Bad torque converter' doesn't cost much. A blown pump or clutches would seem similar and cost a lot more.
Again it depends on whether you can turn a wrench or have enough mechanical acumen to inspect the vehicle and experience the problem behaviour yourself, look for tell-tale leaks, test drive it hard and look for leaks again etc. If they won't let you drive it, walk away. If you don't know what to look for and don't know anyone who does who will inspect it for you, run away.
 

borison

Adventurer
Thanks for the input, much to consider. I may be able to do some of the mechanical fixes, mainly for me it comes down to space, time and tools.
 

plumber mike

Adventurer
I'd be planning a new trans and converter. I'd be budgeting about $2500 max if I wasn't going to do any of it myself.....plus whatever you find wrong once it's driving again. I probably wouldn't pay more than $1000 for the truck unless the body and interior were exceptional. JMO.
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
Does "not running" mean the engine won't start, or just that the trans makes it not driveable? If they can't start it, you have other issues to worry about. Start it and listen to it. Does a code scan show anything?
 

lilkia

Active member
Paying a small shop to rebuild or swap in a rebuilt 4L60E will cost from about $1400 to whatever the sucker will bear.
OP just so you can figure parts cost in your area the 2500 7.4 will have a 4l80e trans not the 4l60e. Shouldnt matter much but if you want to find a used one or avoid a mechanic charging more.
 

borison

Adventurer
Does "not running" mean the engine won't start, or just that the trans makes it not driveable? If they can't start it, you have other issues to worry about. Start it and listen to it. Does a code scan show anything?
Not sure yet, but I believe it is not driving. Just getting started researching this. Thanks
 

lilkia

Active member
When you go to look at it, run the engine in park first and see if everything sounds normal. Listen for whirring noise or grinding. Check the fluid and see if it smells burnt or has particles in it. Let the engine warm up to temp then hit the gas pedal a few times as soon as its back to idle hold the brakes and put it into drive. See if theres any shuddering, or slipping. Run through the gears low, 2, 3, D, N, R, P a few times see if theres any noises, shuddering or lurching. If you can get the truck moving a bad TC will show signs of a higher than normal stall speed, reduced power at slow speeds.

If you find any of these issues I would budget for a new (used, rebuilt) trans as well as a TC.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Different generation, different transmission, but just as a point of reference a local transmission shop rebuilt the 4L60E in my 1500 Suburban for exactly $2k. If I was in your position I'd just figure ~$2500 for a new transmission and base your offer on that assumption. If the truck is in good shape otherwise (body especially) and you can get it for $500 that's $3k for a running 2500 with a 454. I'd call that a decent price.
 
Top