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A little gear noise in any gear but direct drive (4th on these trannies) is not unusual. Since 5th gear is overdrive, you have constant pressure on the gear teeth when you are using it. $th gear noise will be bearings, as the input and output shaft are locked together.
My truck lost 2 mpg when I was running in 4th everywhere. I get 27 on the highway, 25 around town with all 5 gears. I was getting 23 around town, didn't get out on the road when I was only using 4 gears.
My truck sings a little in all gears but 4th. I just replaced all the bearings, so I am hearing gear whine only. It won't hurt anything, just normal for a tranny that is on the far side of 220K miles.
 

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It's not a bad job. The hardest part is getting the starter bolts in and out. The top tranny bolts are best removed with a really long extension and a flex socket.
 
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