I own a 2009 Ford Escape 2.5L 2WD Automatic and I am hearing a high pitch noise like a bearing is going out. Soon after this I started losing trasmission fluid. When I was changing the oil I really investigated. I saw the leak was coming from the trasmission on Driver's side. I grabbed the Trans axle shaft and there was A LOT of play in the bearing and I as I did that tras fluid started leaking out.
So I am guessing it is that bearing making the noise. However, even in park it still makes the noise. First of all, I was wondering what is that bearing and seal called and how difficult it is to replace? Didn't look that hard. Not sure what transmission it is I think it is 6-speed automatic?
The latest TSB is #11-11-30 on this problem which started in late '08 on the first '09MY. The TSB which jas been superceded half-dozen times blamed the the problem on bad surface finish on the seal and bearing diameter. Since the problem still happens on the '11MY, I really can't see this as a parts problem.
I for one think that since it only happens on the driver's side which is the shorter lenght shaft that it's a design issue. It's possible that other variables in other parts and/or location tolerances are causing this problem to come about. Since some owner's have never had the leak, you might want to add just poor QC in their parts.
The half-shaft assembly must be removed from the driver's side to get at the seal and support bushing(no bearing) inside the half-case cover. You'd need to pull the bushing somehow, not sure if one could rent the needed puller?
First think I would do is check the fluid level. With a leak, you never really know how much is left to keep the 'still good' parts from getting ruined by lack of lubrication. I would take it to the dealer to see if there was any 'good will' available to affect a repair. Sometimes they will pay for parts, and charge you 1/2 of the labor to make things right. If there is no help there, take it to an independent transmission shop to see if they can replace the bushing and seal without dropping the transmission. The labor for an R&R is a big pile. Just too many things to disconnect and tie up out of the way before you even get to the point where you can take things apart to determine the problem parts.
If adding fluid stops the noise, you may have dodged a bullet. If it doesn't, then I'd say the things that rotate, idling in neutral, are the flex plate, torque converter, pump impeller, and ... the input shaft from the torque converter will try to rotate, and may rotate the gizzards of the OD planetary gears which then slip inside the direct drive clutch pack, but I'd have to think a bit on that for real details.
The pump is working the whole time the engine is running, and can cause funny noises if the solenoid the controls pressure is goofing off. The output of the pump is not all dumped into the system, at least on CD4E's, and some is fed back into the pump by the pressure solenoid. I would think if that were buzzing or cycling fast, it could lead to funny noises in the transmission.