In the last month, my 1.3L 2001 Toyota Yaris/ Echo automatic car has developed this dragging whining noise when the car is in gear.

I have made a video of it


I jacked up the car so the wheels can spin freely in the air and the whine only starts when the wheel is spinning and goes away in park and neutral. It gets louder as it shifts to higher gears. Using a mechanic stethoscope it seems like it’s probably coming from the torque converter region.

The car still drives smoothly

I have checked the tranny fluid while its hot and I can say it not running low. Its a bit brownish though

I have had the car since June 2018 but I don’t know its service history. Owner’s manual says the tranny fluid doesn’t require changing but I don’t buy this since I doubt the fluid can hold its properties for nearly 20 years.

There is already full tranny with TC available to buy from ebay really really cheap but I want to make sure if the other cheaper options I have listed below are worth considering first.

One of the options I am looking at is if a simple fluid change( i.e. not just draining n refilling fluid by pulling the drain plug but I intent to dropping the pan and replacing the filter too) will fix the issue? I already bought the fluid, filter and the pan gasket but I don’t want to waste them if this method is not going to work. The fluid itself was a bit pricey

Considering I been driving with this issue for a month now, how much longer can I drive with this issue if I don’t take care of it?

Thirdly, since I said the noise could possibly be coming from torque converter, what exactly is making the sound in the torque converter? Is it the sound of something loose or parts touching one another? Can it damage the entire tranny over time?

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