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Does I really need a new transmission?

I have a 2004 Audi A4 Avant with 3.0 V6 engine and 6 speed manual transmission. The car has 77,000 miles. I take good care of this car and have it serviced regularly. About 5,000 miles ago, I took it to the dealer because of a whining noise which went up and down with road speed. I was told I need to replace the transmission. Since the noise varies with road speed and acts the same no matter what gear I am in or if I have the clutch pushed in or the car in neutral with clutch pushed in or not, I don’t understand how it can be the transmission. Do you think it is, and if so, can you explain how?

Whining noises are usually one of 2 things. 1) hydraulic pumps or 2) bearings. Since this is a manual transmission, it doesn’t have a pump - or at least not one large enough to create a serious whine. If the whine is coming from the power steering pump, it would be clearly from the front of the engine, not the back near the transmission. So that leaves a bearing whine.

If I were diagnosing the car, I’d have a helper in the car on a hoist, engine running, to re-create the whine while I listen from underneath. If they re-created that whine and it was coming from the transmission, then their diagnosis would be that the transmission needs repair or replacement.

Now, I haven’t heard this noise so I can’t say if they are right or wrong. You might want to get a second opinion.

If you want to know how this can happen, stuff does just fail. Or it may have had a small leak no one noticed until it was too late. Low fluid would be clear evidence of the transmission.

Whining that varies with the road speed sounds more like bearings to me. You’re correct that the ‘beginning’ of the transmission is connected to the engine and should vary more with engine speed, but the end of the transmission is attached to the wheels, so it’s possible that it could be something in the transmission, but I would agree with Mustangman. A 2nd opinion certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Case bearings in a manual transmission usually make that kind of noise.

Have you serviced the manual transmission fluid on a regular basis?


Whether the engine is even running or not, when the car is traveling down the road the drive wheels are turning, so the differential gears and bearings are turning (which are part of the transmission ass’y on a fwd such as yours), as well the transmission output shaft and its gears and bearings are turning. So the whining noise could indeed be something in the transmission. I presume the transmission and differential fluid levels have been checked, right?

Get a second opinion.

ID GJV trans are $400-750 online if it comes down to that. R&R trans labor alone vs a rebuild? will new trans whine?

Is the noise is present with the car not moving and the clutch pedal depressed I tend to think the problem could be with a serpentine idler or tensioner bearing.

Hello Mustangman,

Thanks for your email.

In fact, the first place I took the car (an independent shop) did exactly as you suggested (car on a hoist, recreated noise with someone listening from underneath).

Then I took it to the Audi dealer and just told them there was a whining noise (did not tell them the diagnosis of the independent shop).

It is just hard for me to understand how an expensive German car could suffer this kind of issue with only 77,000 miles on the car when it has been serviced regularly.

Anyway, thanks again for your feedback.

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Thank you for your input and explanation.

Did get second opinion and diagnosis was the same.

Thanks again.

The car has been regularly serviced by an Audi dealer and independent Audi shop.

I have not looked through all my receipts yet to see if the fluid was ever changed, but also did not see any mention of changing the transmission fluid in the

Audi owner’s manual.

But maybe that was the problem. When the independent shop drained the fluid, they found metal particles in it.

Thanks for the explanation.

Transmission fluid was drained and they found metal particles in the fluid.

Don’t know if the differential fluid level was checked.

This car has all wheel drive(Quattro), not fwd. I don’t know if that makes any difference in your diagnosis.

Got a second opinion already; same diagnosis (one was an independent shop and one was an Audi dealer and I did not tell the Audi dealer what the independent shop had said).


This is the 3.0 normally aspirated V6.

The independent shop estimated $4,000 plus to rebuild the tranny.

I’m still curious as to whether this noise is present with the car stationary, transmission in neutral, and the clutch depressed.

Much of the add’l expense an Audi customer pays for when they buy an Audi is likely spent mostly for plush interior trim, exterior lighting packages, and an improved customer service experience, more so that than basic engineering prowess and materials science. There’s an economy of scale factor also, big sellers tend to be less expensive to manufacture. A well designed and properly serviced transmission – even driven gently — can fail at 77K for various reasons, including manufacturing quality control, one-of manufacturing errors, assembler mistakes, computer software bugs, etc. Even the most advanced transmission design and materials will fail sooner if driven hard than if driven gently. Formula 1 race cars probably have the most advanced engine and transmission designs and materials ever made, but I doubt any of them last without rebuilding to anywhere near 77 K miles.

Daughter’s 2011 BMW 328i has 55,000 miles on it. In 2013, she got a 5 year extended warranty for $5,000 (unknown to me) and she says she has used every penny of it.