Background: Struts are all newish, brakes recently serviced, new inner/outer tie rods, new ball joints, new FCAR bushings, wheels rebalanced, recent alignment.
Symptoms: Faint clunking noise at low speeds while accelerating. Shaking at 60 mph, felt like unbalanced wheel, except we just had them rebalanced.
Back story: I've been chasing an issue with the passenger's front wheel on our 1999 Forester for a few months now. The car is closing in on 200k miles and I had just finished replacing the ball joints and tie rod ends on the car when I noticed the passenger's side front control arm rear bushing was pretty badly torn. I replaced that bushing, got an alignment, then my wife tells me that the car is shaking on the highway.
OK, wheels must be out of balance, so we get them rebalanced. No change. I do the wheel shake test and I felt some play, so let's take a look at the wheel bearing. Wheel and brakes removed, I can feel some clunking as I turn the hub. The driver's side feels smooth when rotated, but there is obviously something wrong with the passenger's side.
I get the passenger's side spindle assembly on the bench expecting to find some grumbling and play, but it feels pretty smooth in rotation, with no axial or radial play.
So I grab the halfshaft and rotate it. The clunking is still present, but it doesn't feel like it's coming from the CV or DOJ. I supposed it could be either of those parts, but I get the feeling that the passenger's side differential carrier bearing is going south.
Question: I've read a lot about Subaru transmissions over the years and that if not reassembled properly with the correct backlash and bearing preload, they will fail again in pretty short order. As I see it, we've got a few options on how to proceed:
1) Rebuild the original transmission - Has to go to a shop and could get expensive with labor and, "while we're in there" incidentals, rebuild could re-fail
2) Replace original transmission with a good used one - I can do this, no problem, but I worry about getting a bad used transmission
3) Sell the car and find the wife a new vehicle - Since our Forester is a the bottom of it's depreciation curve right now, does it really make sense to sink $600-3,000 into a vehicle that's only worth $4,000 tops?
Looking for opinions, experiences, etc. If you've got a nice, used transmission, I'm all ears too!