My Subaru WRX has been making a strange noise for the last 5000 miles or so (it may have done it before that, but that's the first I remember):

When I pull away in first, or sometimes if I just rev the engine when stationary, there is a distinct noise of flowing liquid, like slush pouring from a bucket, coming from just about where the gear stick is.

My assumption is that it is oil lubricating the gearbox, however I have never heard it in any other car so it seems weird to me. My next service isn't for a couple of months but if this is not good I'll book it in sooner.

I don't notice any problems - changing gear is as slick as ever, there are no clunky shifts.

After paying a lot more attention to the noise, which is a challenge as it is intermittent, it does happen when revving and pulling away, as well as revving with car in gear and the clutch in or in neutral with the clutch out.

  • I know you know your stuff, but are you positive the sound isn't from the HVAC housing? I only say that because I've been badly bitten by heater core/evaporator/pluggeddrainsandmycarpetiswet voodoo thingie noises in the past.
    – SteveRacer
    Jan 27, 2018 at 1:46
  • Yeah - loads of diagnosis attempts. The AC noise is where it should be, and is very AC-like :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Jan 27, 2018 at 9:03
  • I assume you checked the gear fluid level? Is the stick moving when accelerating?
    – Martin
    Jan 27, 2018 at 11:32
  • 1
    Have you tried revving the engine with/without the clutch pedal depressed? Same noise? If so, I'd suggest the noise isn't originating in the gearbox. Not being there to hear the noise, I'd suggest it could be from the heater core and would check to ensure the coolant levels are completely up to snuff. Jan 27, 2018 at 11:37
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Yes, that was my first guess but not being able to hear it.... What does the noise smell like??
    – SteveRacer
    Jan 30, 2018 at 2:59

1 Answer 1


Took the car in for service, and @SteveRacer was right. It was the air con - they did a full flush and recharge (it was the 120,000 mile service so it was about time anyway) and the problem has completely gone.

I would have sworn from where it sounded like the noise was coming from that it had to be gearbox. And I was embarrassingly wrong :-)

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