I have a 2004 Ford Ranger 4x4 with a 5-Speed manual transmission. I noticed that in 1st, 3rd, and 5th gears there is a whine/rattle noise coming from the shifter which I assume to be coming from the transmission itself. It only does this in the gears mentioned above. If it is in 2nd, 4th or Reverse there is no out of the ordinary sound. What could be causing this sound only when the shifter is pushed in to a gear on the forward side of the shifter? Should I be concerned? The truck has over 240,000 miles on it and everything else is working fine.
I strongly suggest that you check and top off the transmission with the correct oil before driving it again. If the main idler bearing isn’t already trashed it will be soon.
Why does it only make noise on the gears mentioned but not 2nd and 4th?
Because there are 2 shafts in the transmission. Mainshaft and countershaft. 4th is direct drive so the countershaft, the lower one, doesn’t carry any load in 4th. 2nd is mainshaft to countershaft and back but in the middle of both so the countershaft bearings each carries 1/2 the load. 1st gear is closest to the bellhousing and 3rd is closest to the tailshaft. I’d guess that the countershaft bearings are in need of a replacement. Well, more than the rest of a 240K trans because they all need replacement.
Excellent advice above. If the fluid hasn’t been replaced in some time or many miles ago, that’s where I’d start. Sieve the fluid you drain out through a screen to see if there’s an unusual amount of metal debris that comes out. Look carefully at the removed drain plug too, as sometimes they are a magnet designed to catch metal debris. If not much metal debris, and the drain/refill doesn’t help, one other possibility to keep in mind, could just be an ordinary vibration problem, possibly caused by something in the linkage between the gear shift knob and the external transmission selector levers is a little loose, broken/missing bushing, etc. At 240K I think your Ranger is doing pretty good, and if it whines a little in the odd numbered gears, the best move beyond described in the posts above may be to just monitor the situation.
If you’re cruising at 45+ mph in 4th gear and lift your foot off the gas coasting up to a red light and the lever jumps to neutral you should be looking for a good deal on a new transmission.