sounds to me like you just had a complete bad experience with 3:73's starting with the install. should be no noise or smell when installed correct... and yes a 1000.oo they got ya...
as far as top end loss very little if any at all just turning a few more rpms at the top...
in my opinion 3:55's would be a waste of money ...I would not even of bought mine without the 3;73'S that was a must for me..
best of luck with your choice...
For me my choice in the end was a winner. I have a 60 mile commute with crazy traffic and very little twisties. The automatic is so much easier to drive fast with very little effort and is a beast on the highway. I'm also more of a straight line racer kinda guy. On top of it my manual trans
was giving me some issues the dealer was saying was "normal"
The auto pulls/feels stronger than the manual especially above 80
(yes I like to speed)
Anyone who's considering the gear swap to 3.73's should really just go to your local dealer and test drive one before pulling the trigger.
You may find the small difference isn't worth it.
When I said weaker up top I meant it felt weaker, especially 3rd and 4th gear above 4k rpms. I don't know if it's actually slower but something was missing from the top end.
I think my auto would slay a 3.73 5.0 from an 80-115 pull.