It often feels like cars have their own language. Rather than giving us a direct signpost to what’s wrong they will communicate issues to us through distinctive (annoying) noises that give us that funny feeling that something just ain’t right. A grinding noise is no different, not only will it really get on your nerves, it may cause you to nervously count your pennies in fear a bank-breaking repair is on its way.
Car grinding when driving…
If the grinding noise occurs whilst you are driving and on the move, it can be very hard to diagnose the problem. One of the first steps to uncovering the issue at hand is to listen out even more. When you turn the car and the noise occurs, try to identify whether it is coming from the rear or front end of your vehicle.
The next part is to pinpoint exactly when the grinding is happening; is it when turning, braking or just simply cruising (albeit noisily) down the road.
Your water pump might be damaged
If the grinding is definitely not coming from your brakes, and it is occurring whilst the engine is running, you may have an issue with your water pump. Without a functioning water pump, your engine can overheat. Therefore, have the water pump inspected by a mechanic ASAP.
It might be your alternator
Grinding noises when driving may also be the sign of a worn alternator. Worn alternators result in a dead battery, as they serve to power the car’s electrical system and charge its battery. Again, seek mechanical assistance to check over your alternators and make subsequent repairs.
Your air conditioning might be able to break
Another source of grinding when engine is running is the air conditioning compressors. However, this can only be the case if the grinding occurs when the AC is running. This is a less urgent repair, AC is not essential for car safety all year round. But, the grinding noise is undoubtedly annoying and AC is essential for visibility when car windows steam up in the colder months.
Grinding when changing gears are an indication of a worn clutch or one that requires adjustment. Make sure to have this looked at promptly as it may be a more worrying sign of transmission failure that can cause some serious damage to your vehicle.
With most grinding noises in your car the cause is the brakes. The noise may be the result of an issue with the brake assembly; from a loose rotor to worn pads and calipers. It may even be the result of wheels not being aligned properly. The best way to assess whether this is the case is to inspect the whole brakes system, it is likely friction between them causing the grinding noise.
The rotor comes into contact with the pad and as the parts are worn the metal-to-metal contact causes major grinding sounds. This friction will only get worse over time and eventually rip those components apart.
It could be your pads, discs, calipers or another brake part!
Brakes are undoubtedly the most important safety feature of your car. If a brakes component or indeed the whole system is not working properly, there is a significant risk to your vehicle and your own safety when driving.
Car grinding when turning…
If the grinding noise occurs when you turn your car, it can mean a multitude of things dependent on the combination with other symptoms and the general condition of your vehicle. Often mechanics can provide a diagnosis from simply listening to the car running in the lower gears, as a driver try to identify whether the noise comes from the cars front or rear and if its from the right or the left. The location of the sound source may point you towards the cause.
Its probably your wheel bearings!
The most likely cause of a grinding noise when turning is worn out wheel bearings that are causing friction when they shouldn’t be. This would make the noise particularly sharp on beds and when the car accelerates. The wheel bearings would need replacing to stop the noise.
If you don’t replace a damaged or worn wheel bearing before it fails completely, the wheel will completely seize up. This can cause an accident if it happens whilst you are driving!
Any unusual noises coming from your vehicle should not go ignored. They signpost important issues that need addressing, and if not addressed efficiently can develop into more extensive and costly repairs.
It can be difficult to confirm the exact problem without a mechanic, therefore we would always recommend that you contact a specialist for a definite diagnosis and subsequent repair. The sooner you consult help, the lesser the damage and thus repair costs.