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'02 Legacy 5spd Reverse Issue (whining, binding and a crunch or three)

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Hello, I have a 2002 Legacy L Wagon 5spd with 195k on it and it's in great shape, runs strong and I love it.  I have put many hours into this car mostly in preventative maintenance (keeping the rust away is yearly task up here in SaltLand!).  But anyway... my issue:

A month or so ago I was pulling into a camping spot in some slightly off road conditions (which I do not normally do, I know it's AWD, but it's not a Jeep!).  The place I was pulling into had shallow ruts and it was a very tight turn, and I had the steering wheel cranked all the way to the right and attempted to cross over the ruts and she stalled out because the front bumper cover hit a rock and I was being easy on the throttle.  So, I was going to change my angle of approach and I backed up and tried again, and again, with the wheel pinned to the right, she shuttered, bucked and stalled out (remember, it's a manual transmission and I wasn't hammering the throttle).  So, I then gave up on this way into the camp site and when I went to take off in first gear there was like this crunch, crunch sound coming from the front end.  It was unmistakably a metal sound, so I thought maybe I was hitting a rock, so I got out of the car and looked under it to look for obstructions; and there was none.  So I just shrugged my shoulders and continued on down the road.  I started hearing like a "clack, clack" sound when I would let off on the throttle, and I thought maybe I broke a tooth on a CV joint or something.  Later I noticed a whining when I got up to about 30 miles an hour, mostly when I let off on the throttle.  It seems to go away when I give it throttle or am over 40mph.  I showed a mechanic friend of mine the problem and he said not to worry about it... so I haven't been... UNTIL THE OTHER DAY!  .... I was backing down a friend's dirt driveway and maybe going a little fast for being in reverse, but all of a sudden it just sounded like someone dropped a bag of ball bearings into my gearbox!  It didn't entirely bind up tight (there were no skid marks) but it slowed way down, and as soon as this happened I threw the clutch in.... When I proceeded to back up, it seemed find again... It's been a week now, and it's still going, but has the whining and clicking sounds like it has since I broke whatever I broke.  I will not be gunning it in reverse again!  

My question: what did I break, how can I fix it and how much longer do I maybe have until I will be without a ride?

Has anybody else ever heard of anything like this or experienced anything like it?

Any insight or direction would be appreciated.



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Hey I am not entirely sure what is going on with your issue but a couple of things popped into my head for easy checking and diagnosis.


First) Have you checked your wheel bearings? I dont know if this is really even a practical place to start but I have seen and heard some crazy noises coming from bad wheel bearings and its simple to check. Just jack one wheel at a time and grab the wheel at 12 and 6 o'clock and easily shake top to bottom... Any perceivable movement would be signs of bad wheel bearings.


Second) Jack up the rear end and spin the wheels while listening to the rear differential to see if you hear anything out of the ordinary and you could try that for the front differential as well. You might have to have all 4 wheels off the ground at the same time in order to do this but Im not certain. Worst comes to worst try only the rear and then get the front up if needed.



Edited by Pgh_Scoob
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