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Discussion Starter #1
Within the past several days it's been cold and rainy in NC. My 2001 Sentra SE manual with 195k miles and original clutch has developed a SEVERE noise in the front end. At first I thought it was wheel bearing or axle related since I had just paid a mechanic to replace the front right bearing/hub/axle in October since I was getting a very similar sound.

When I brought the car back to the same shop this week assuming something may have gone bad with the work they had performed, they stated everything with the wheel bearing and axle they replaced was good; they believe the sound is now related to something in the transmission. Is there another bearing after the axle (maybe part of the transmission) that could be going bad and making this similar type of noise?

The noise is not present while accelerating or braking hard, only when cruising at the same speed or decelerating by coasting or lightly braking. It is a very loud noise though, clearly can be heard from outside the car as well. When you come to a rolling stop at a sign or light, you start hearing clicking. It's hard to explain car noises, but if you've experienced a bad wheel bearing or axle, it's basically those types of sounds.

Anyone have any ideas?
 

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Clutch could be finally going out and/or the throw out bearing. Does the noise change during clutch operation?
 

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I'll say throw out bearing, might as well prep for a clutch/flywheel as well.

When was the last time the system was bled just out of curiosity.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Never bled the system.

Another piece of information that I realized I missed, this condition is present even when the transmission is not in gear. This may limit some possibilities with respect to it being caused by the transmission.
 

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You should be able to follow the clutch line to the slave and find the clutch fork sticking out. While the engine is running in neutral, you should be able to jam or push the fork with a screwdriver and see if the noise changes, if it does, it's definitely time for a tob and a clutch (might as well thing).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The noise is not present while the car is stopped with engine on and in neutral...this is leading me to believe it's a transaxle issue (not throw out bearing) since the axles and wheel bearings were replaced fairly recently.

IF it's a transaxle issue, I'm guessing differential bearing. How much does a transaxle rebuild (or just replace the bearing) cost?
 

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Hmm have you tried doing the wheel bearing test? Like in an open lot, do a 15-20mph figure 8 either left or right, it should change noise depending on which bearing is bad. Also I'm going to assume it's not the rear bearings right?

If it's a diff bearing noise, then you'd have at least 5-10hrs labor depending on how many hours it is on the book. I doubt the part itself is expensive. It's usually the labor that gets you. Luckily if it is indeed the diff bearing, the gear stacks don't need to be disassembled. By any chance you have big walls that you can drive next to? If it's inside the trans, you should hear it louder on the driver side.

You mentioned that braking hard won't let you hear it. When you do brake hard, are you in gear? Do you have the clutch pedal depressed as in the clutch is disengaged?
 
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