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Manual transmission in 4Runner whines in neutral

My transmission began making this whining or whirring noise in neutral about 3 months ago. Clutch pedal in, noise stops. Clutch out, noise returns. When the car is moving, I don’t hear it, but it could be masked by the road noise. There are no other symptoms.



When the noise started, I took it to a quick lube place and asked them to change the trans oil. No change. This 4Runner was in storage from 2005-2007, and I had the trans oil changed before and after storage. I don’t know if that’s important, but it seems like it could be. It has 140,000 trouble-free (until now) miles. Anyone have any ideas, besides wait and see what other symptoms appear?

If it makes the noise when clutch pedal is OUT…sounds like it’s a input shaft bearing. Sorry…but this is expensive to fix. Need to rebuild the tranny.

Hope I’m wrong…good luck.

I had manual transmissions that had noisy input shaft bearings back in the 1960’s. The symptoms were the same as what you report. I just let the transmission make the noise. The rest of the car wore out before the transmission.

Your best bet would be an independent transmission shop with a technician who knows manual transmissions. If he advises making the repair, the cost may not be prohibitive. The transmission will need to come out, but perhaps only the bearing needs to be replaced. The advice may be to just keep driving.

Same thing on my 87 Ranger. It has 240,000 on the original trans & for the last 20,000 miles it’s been growling in neutral/clutch out. I just ignore it.

I had this happen to my Toyota Supra. I decided to ignore it until it got worse. Well, the front seal was leaking gear lube, and I did not keep an eye on it. 3 months later, fried transmission with no lube in it.

It now has a junkyard tranny in it, and I check the lube level every oil change. Live and learn…

Thanks to everyone for the advice. It seems that the problem is the input shaft bearing. Now I have to judge the urgency. You see, I’m 1000 miles from the nearest Toyota dealer. I could try to drive there, or order the bearing and hope that I can find a competent mechanic and that once he takes out my transmission he won’t find more problems. Do you think I can drive it 1000 miles?

If it were mine, I would have the transmission oil changed just be be sure that any nonferric material might get flushed out and then refill with the recommended oil.

You don’t mention whether this is a 4 speed or 5 speed overdrive transmission. I would drive the 1000 miles in the direct gear i.e. 4th of a 4 speed or 5speed overdrive. What you want to do is take the gear forces off the input bearing by having the torque go through the transmission in the direct, one to one ratio. At each fillup check to see if the noise is getting worse. If there appears to be deterioration, have the transmission repaired or take the risk that a rebuilt or used transmission will have to be installed. It is unlikely that the transmission will sieze up. IMHO

It could also be a pilot bearing or even a throw out bearing. With the latter it’s possible to have a noise like this based on wear and the right situation of the TO bearing barely brushing the pressure plate fingers with the pedal not depressed.

Wouldn’t the pilot bearing or throw-out bearing make the noise when the clutch is depressed…NOT when the clutch is out.

Right off the top, I agree with your input bearing diagnosis. I’m only pointing out a couple of potential what-ifs.
The pilot bearing is rotating with the pedal depressed and in the case of the throw out bearing what I’ve seen a few times is a slightly worn bearing that will generate some noise and will quieten down when even light pressure is applied to it.

Since the transmission would have to come out anyway no matter which of the 3 it is (or combination of the 3) I’d only point out that the TO bearing and pilot bearing should be very carefully checked before ripping the transmission apart.

The pilot bearing is rotating with the pedal depressed and in the case of the throw out bearing what I’ve seen a few times is a slightly worn bearing that will generate some noise and will quieten down when even light pressure is applied to it.

Since the transmission would have to come out anyway no matter which of the 3 it is (or combination of the 3) I’d only point out that the TO bearing and pilot bearing should be very carefully checked before ripping the transmission apart.

Good point…That’s where someone with a LOT more experience then I do can add more info.