Transmission noise in 1995 Legacy, 5spd

So, I went to look at a Legacy wagon I asked about in another thread. I think it would be a great project car, but I passed at the time since the transmission was making a constant noise while driving. I can only describe it as the noise a heavy-duty truck might make… like the transmission in an old 4spd Jeep pickup I drove once. Kind of a medium pitched whine.

The owner said his wife jammed it into gear once when it wouldn’t go in, and its made that noise ever since. He thought a tooth got chipped off the main wheel.

I don’t know very much about transmissions. Would this car need a transmission later on, or would someone just have to live with the noise ?

Automatic or manual transmission? It makes a difference as to what the problem could be.

I’m assuming a manual at this point due to that comment a “main wheel” (no such thing) and chipped tooth.

Manual or automatic, it sounds like a complete transmission would be needed as the whine noise sounds like a differential whine. There are no short-cuts on this.
If it is the differential it’s debateable how far it will go and whether the seller is telling the whole story.

Whatever happened to the tranny means it isn’t going to last as long as a normal one would. I would purchase the car only with the thought that the tranny needs to be repaired. You may be able to find a good used one for around $500 dollars and have it installed. You could also install a rebuilt unit but that may run you between $1,500 to $2,500 for an installed rebuilt unit.

You may also want to take it into a shop and see what they think and give you an estimate for repair. Using the repair figures will give you an idea on how much you may want to pay for the car. Sometimes a good deal really isn’t so good after repairs are done. It would also be good to know if there has been any headgasket work done since that can be a problem with these cars at times.

Oops. Missed the 5Speed in the subject title.

If you have whine in the transmission that is more than likely going to be related to the differential.
There is also a possibility that it could be caused by the rear mainshaft bearing.

Check the transmission oil level. If it’s full, then it needs a trans rebuild or replacement and there is no inexpensive way out no matter what.
If it’s low one could add oil, say a prayer, and see what happens.

Yep, its a 5spd. Well, if it needs a tranny, its not a deal… if it doesn’t, it is a deal. I’d just have to live with the noise. I think they drove it like that for a while.

I didn’t check the transmission oil level. I guess it wasn’t so much a whine, as it just sounded like the tranny in a big old 4x4 pickup.
The transmission sounded exactly like the one in the 79 Jeep p/u I drove occasionally. Also, the stick DID stay in gear, but you could move it around a little bit while in gear and the noise would be accentuated when I did so. That may tell you something.

There was engine oil leaking somewhere around the back of the engine. I thought it was the pan gasket, which actually looks easy to replace on these cars, but perhaps its coming from a seal in the back of the engine… would that be what they call the rear main seal?

Are you sure that’s engine oil leaking at the back of the engine?
Maybe it’s transmission gear oil leaking from a transmission mainshaft seal and that’s why the trans is howling. If it’s low, it won’t howl much longer. There will be a catastrophic bang and that’s it. In these cases, they’re not rebuildable as it becomes instant scrap metal.

I would STRONGLY advise checking the gear oil level before driving it one more inch. If the oil level is low then damage has occurred already to the mainshaft bearings and ring/pinion gears. Full of oil though, it could last for a while. Hopefully.

The noise changing a bit due to movement of the gearshift lever could be the slight (hopefully) movement in the mainshaft caused by the shift forks since this could affect the load on the mainshaft bearings.

Run the car up to 50 MPH (AFTER checking the trans oil) shift into neutral, and coast with the clutch depressed. If there is no noise the problem is the mainshaft bearings. If the whine persists then it’s a ring/pinion gear problem.
Serious either way as it would mean a complete transaxle (proper term) overhaul and this is not a job for the faint-hearted since it requires the manual, expertise, and a handful or two of very special tools to perform. Pricy, Subaru only tools.

Note I’m full of “hopefullys” here.