What’s That Grinding Noise? Diagnosing Your Car Trouble

June 25th, 2016 by

Car Grinding Noise


It’s happened to all of us, and it’s a terrible feeling: you’re driving along on a regular old day and suddenly it happens – you hear that grinding noise for the first time. Anyone familiar with auto repair knows that no grinding sound is good on a car – in fact, it can mean serious damage has been or is being done every time you take your car out for a drive. Grinding means metal on metal contact – and that can mean even worse damage if something isn’t done about it.

Luckily, it’s not too hard to find quality auto service in Albany, NY – but before walking into any mechanic shop with a problem, it’s best to try and diagnose the problem so you know where to look and what to do. By listening for where the grinding is coming from on your car, you can fairly accurately tell what the problem may be and what needs to be done – meaning a faster and easier repair job later on.

If The Grinding Noise Happens When:

Turning Hard Left or Right

This could be any number of problems, but it likely has to do with your wheel or your axle itself. In many cases, a grinding noise that happens when you’re turning hard in one direction or the other may be as simple as a bent dust shield, or the metal piece that protects your underbody from brake dust. This thin metal plate can become bent or damaged after hitting a hard pothole or can get a rock stuck between the shield and the rotor. This may require a simple job like just bending the heat shield back into place or removing debris, which most mechanics can do during a basic brake check.

If, however, the grinding is accompanied by a regular “click”-like noise, then the problem may even be your axle or cross-variable, or CV, joint. These can become damaged or rusted and essentially lose connection with your drivetrain, turning your front-wheel drive car into a one-wheel drive car – and, if nothing is done, even a no-wheel drive car. This is a pricey and extensive repair, but can seriously boost your car’s lifespan and prevent total failure.

Speeding Up or Slowing Down

If you’re hearing a grinding noise when speeding up or slowing down, especially on the highway, then this could indicate serious transmission trouble like grinding gears or slipping when shifting. This can lead to serious internal damage to your transmission and could even grind away the teeth of the transmission’s gears, leaving you in a busted vehicle that can’t shift at all. This is a critical repair and should be checked out by a mechanic immediately.


Say, however, the grinding noise only happens when braking – this can actually be not as bad as it sounds. In most cases, this is simply an indication you’ve gone too long without a brake pad change, meaning the wear indicator on the pads is hitting the rotor itself and the pads need to be swapped out for new ones. Otherwise, a grinding noise while braking could indicate a problem with your rotors or even your calipers – best to have a basic brake check to see what’s wrong.

So don’t ignore that grinding noise for another minute – all that does is bring your car one minute closer to a major failure. Check in with your mechanic and get that grinding noise fixed – and don’t forget to keep listening to your car.