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I am about to buy a '96 Saturn SC from someone, and he is letting me test drive it for a few days before I decide to buy or not. I took it in to a mechanic today who tested it out, found a few repairs that needed to be done, but nothing major. After getting it back from the mechanic I noticed a low pitched noise every time I put in the clutch to shift. It sounds like something is spinning at high revs then slowing down.

Is this something I should be concerned with? The mechanic took the car for a test drive and didn't mention anything about it, but I'm certain the noise did not start until after I got it back from the mechanic.

The car has 133,000 miles, and I think it has the original clutch in it still. I will ask the owner when I see him on Monday. He is asking $1,900 for the car which I think is a good deal, it is in great condition except for a few minor things. Thanks

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It could be the thrust bearing of the clutch that's worn down. It makes a whining noise when the clutch is disengaged and it reguires replacing the clutch and thrust bearing to solve this.

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How critical of a problem is this? Should I not use this vehicle at all until it is repaired, or can I use it regularly for the next 2 months while I get the money for a new clutch? Thank you. –  MasterZ Mar 20 '11 at 19:58
    
The worst that could happen is a complete breakdown of the thrust bearing and you won't be able to disengage the clutch when that happens. I can't say when that will happen, sometimes the bearing lasts for months before finally giving up and sometimes it's a matter of days. –  Alex Mar 20 '11 at 20:12
    
Thank you. So i can safely use the car but should keep it to a minimum until fixed... I can do that. –  MasterZ Mar 20 '11 at 20:18
    
@MasterZ, it's also a possible negotiation point to get the asking price down. If you're buying a car that's going to need work, it's reasonable to ask the seller to subsidize the fix. –  Bob Cross Apr 21 '11 at 14:10
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