I have a 2002 Subaru Outback with a 5 speed manual and 160k miles on it. The previous owner claims to have replaced the front differential, because it was locked up.
Now, I have been hearing whining noises coming from around the transmission (hard to say exactly while driving) for a while now, and figured it was a bearing somewhere that I don't want to deal with right now.
But yesterday, it started making really awful clunking and grinding noises whenever I'm in gear, especially while accelerating. I do hear clunking and squeaking while turning tight corners sometimes, but not exclusively.
I'm not really familiar with Subaru drivetrains, or manual transmissions in general, but everything I'm seeing and hearing online is suggesting the center differential.
Does this sound like a center diff to you? How would I tell if it's the front or center diff? Do I even have both of those? Could it be a bearing in there, instead of a $500 differential unit?
I'm clutching at straws, because I really don't have time or money enough to throw parts at it and see what sticks.
UPDATE: When I checked the dipstick on the passenger side of the transmission, the only dipstick I can find, I didn't see any problems. However, on starting to drain the fluid from the tranny, it was pretty much made of glitter. Metallic flaky stuff permeates the oil. Bad sign, no?
The clunky sounds have gotten a bit less ever-present, especially when the transmission has warmed up a bit, but it is still pretty much always making a whining or light-grinding noise.
In my mind, it's starting to sound more like a transmission. Anyone else with more expertise on the matter have anything to say?
Thanks for your help diagnosing this, in advance.