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Do I really need a new clutch--already?

I’ve got a 2008 Subaru Outback with a 5-speed standard, 50K on it. Lately, when I depress the clutch pedal, it makes a whining noise, in any gear or even in neutral. It goes away when I release the pedal. But it also stops making the noise when the engine warms up. That’s the part that confuses me. Any thoughts?

Sounds like a pilot or throwout bearing is making noise. ( those bearings don’t function when the clutch is engaged )
Have a tech listen to evaluate the need to replace. It’s just as big a job as replacing the clutch because they’re buried in there. You may be able to wait it out.

And when you do replace it you’ll want to do the whole clutch assembly and not just the bearing.

The throwout bearing is the most likely cause and keeping your foot off the clutch will increase the life of that bearing and other associated pieces.

Definitely sounds like a throwout bearing (often called release bearing) going bad. As others have said, it’s just as much work to change the whole clutch as it is to replace the throwout bearing, so you may as well postpone it as long as you can. The best way to do this is to keep your foot off the clutch pedal as much as possible by doing things like idling at a stop light in neutral with your foot off the clutch rather than leaving it in gear with the clutch depressed. If it starts to get worse, get it fixed to avoid ending up stranded.