update: the only cover i can remove underneath is the flywheel cover. there's a little mud at the bottom but nothing built up or causing a problem in there. i started it up and when idling, every few seconds it will make this hard hitting metal sound and the rear drive shaft will twitch, like it's trying to get engaged. (that's just how i was before my wedding). does that confirm the transfer gear theory? : FJAfrica 'Sounds to me like the throw-out bearing is ready to retire. Often this happens when you drown it in mud. Those bearings are not well sealed, the mud & water get in. Could have seezed the bearing, now the pressure plate is turning on the bearing surface, hence the possible metal-on-metal noise'