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What Does It Mean When Your Car Is Making A Grinding Noise?

What Does It Mean When Your Car Is Making A Grinding Noise?

It's critical to learn about “what does it mean when your car is making grinding noises?” Causes of grinding noises differ significantly depending on when and where you hear the grinding noise:  

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

  1. Grinding noise is coming from the engine (bad alternator, water pump, or power steering)
  2. Grinding noise is coming from the brakes (worn-out brake pads or rotor)
  3. Grinding noises whenever you turn (bad CV joint)

Hearing grinding noises from your vehicle is never a good sign because it is related to an internal problem. It is never a good idea to ignore the grinding noise because the more you ignore it, the more complicated the problem gets and the higher repair costs.

A grinding noise can happen at different times at different locations across your vehicle. Therefore, it is critical to be specific about where the grinding noise is coming from and when you hear it to determine the real culprit.

This article provides you with the ultimate guide about all potential grinding noises that you might come across. It will break down the grinding noises by where and when you hear them, and it will also provide you with some recommendations about how to inspect the grinding noise and how to resolve the issue.

What does it mean when your car is making a grinding noise?

Your vehicle is expected to make some specific noises every time you turn the ignition switch and whenever you hit the brakes. However, the longer you own this vehicle, the more familiar you will get, and easier it to detect any abnormal new weird noises.

Grinding noises are common noises that you might encounter linked to your vehicle's internal problems. These grinding noises are your vehicle's way of grabbing your attention to resolve the issue immediately before it gets more complicated. Whenever you hear any grinding noise despite the location, you must consult your mechanic to resolve the issue as fast as possible.

Typically, the grinding noise doesn't come from one location, and it sometimes comes at a certain position or once you perform a certain action. Let's take a closer look at the different types of grinding that you might hear and the different scenarios that you might experience to help you detect the real culprit behind each issue:

1-    Grinding noises coming from the engine

One of the most common engine noises is engine grinding, which is linked to an alarming sign indicating major internal problems. Typically, engine grinding might be linked to various components inside the engine, including the alternator, water pump, and power steering.

The easiest way to isolate the culprit is by disconnecting each one separately and monitoring the noise. This way, you immediately realize that the noise will stop when the culprit component is turned off.

Let's take a closer look at the different scenarios that could cause engine grinding:

Engine grinding due to a bad alternator

The alternator is responsible for providing the electric current to the different electric components in your vehicle. It also charges the battery as you're driving the vehicle. Overtime reviews, the alternator is expected to fail, and some of the early signs of a failing alternator include some grinding noises.

Since alternator repair is extremely expensive compared to other faulty components, which is about $1000, you must check the alternator as this is whenever you hear coming from the engine compartment by disconnecting the fan belt, gently taking out the alternator, and shipping it here and rest, hearing it might be a sign that the alternator is failing and requires replacement.

  • Repair costs

To fix the grinding noise coming from a bad alternator, you'll have to pay about $1000, if not more, depending on your vehicle type and the location where you get the job done.

Engine grinding due to a bad water pump

Once you confirm that the alternator is in good condition, the next step is to inspect the water pump because it's the second possibly faulty component. The water pump is responsible for pumping coolant around the engine and maintaining engine cooling when you run your vehicle.

When the water pump fails, you'll deal with significant engine overheating that can lead to immediate engine failure. Thus, whenever you hear the grinding noise and confirm it's coming from the water pump, you must replace it to avoid pricey repairs.

The water pump might grind because of worn-out bearings or probably pulleys where the internal metal components might interact with each other. Keep in mind that it can be tricky to detect the grinding noises coming from the water pump because they're not as obvious as when grinding is coming from the other components.

  • Repair costs

Turn place a bad water pump, expect to pay between $461 and $638. Keep in mind that this price also differs depending on your vehicle model and the location where you have the service.

Engine grinding due to a bad power steering

Finally, you'll hear some grinding noise coming from the engine compartment where there's a problem with the power steering, which can be surprising. The steering system relies on power steering to provide the necessary forces to move the wheels without overstressing the hydraulic pressure.

It's not rare to deal with grinding noises due to an issue with the power steering. The issue can be as simple as trouble in the power steering fluid where there is an air bubble or a simple thing that you can take care of without too much repair costs.

  • Repair costs

If the issue you're dealing with has to do with a major problem with the power steering, you'll end up replacing it. Typically replacing a power steering should cost you somewhere between $200 and $350.00. However, keep in mind that power steering replacement might also get up to $800 depending on your vehicle type and the labor cost.

2-    Grinding noises coming from the brakes

On the other hand, if you hear the grinding noise every time you utilize the braking system, the issue might be related to the internal components of your braking system.

For example, a minor problem in the brake pads where the brake pad thickness is not at the optimum level might lead to grinding noises where the brake pad grins against the rotor. Similarly, a bad rotor might also result in issues in the brake pads causing these grinding noises.

Despite the source of the problem, you must resolve the issue by replacing the faulty component.

  • Repair costs

If the grinding noises are coming from your braking system and due to a problem with the brake pads, you must get them replaced. Typically, replacing both brake pads at one axle will cost you about $150. However, if you plan to replace the four pads, expect to pay up to $300 while considering labor costs.

On the other hand, if your issue is more complicated and has to do with a bad rotor, repair costs can climb a little bit more. Replacing one rotor should cost you between $200 and $400 depending on where you get the job done and your car's model here. Keep in mind that repair costs of a rotor can be much higher and approach $500 in some scenarios.

3-    Grinding noises whenever you turn

Finally, you might experience some grinding noises every time you perform a specific turn. If that's the case, your issue is most likely related to a bad CV joint.

The CV joints are small components located between the transmission and every wheel here. These joints are responsible for transferring the torque from the transition to the wheels at a constant steady-state speed. This way, it accommodates any wheel movement without overstressing the vehicle.

  • Repair costs

If you confirm that the grinding noise is happening from a CV joint, you'll have to get it replaced, and replacement costs range from $95 and $210. However, in some scenarios, replacement costs can reach up to $800 for some vehicle brands.

It is very helpful for you to let your mechanic know about what grinding you're experiencing. In other words, if you hear the grinding coming from the engine area, it is important to let your mechanic know because this helps him narrow down the list of potential culprits and resolve the issue without wasting a lot of Labor time.

Is it safe to drive with a grinding noise?

It is never a good idea. As we indicated earlier, grinding noises are linked to major internal problems and require immediate attention. Furthermore, it is never safe to continue driving with a grinding noise, especially if the writing class has been there long.

For example, you'll deal with significant engine overheating with a bad water pump if the water pump fails. Similarly, if the alternator is causing this grinding noise, you won't be able to charge the electric components, and this can be extremely critical if the alternator is charging some components that have to do with your safety.

On the other hand, if the grinding noise is related to a bad CV joint, your vehicle might get stuck in a park position, and you won't be able to control it. Thus, to prevent getting stuck in nowhere without any help, you'd better take care of any grinding noise as soon as possible, no matter how much it will save you. Otherwise, you might want to sell your vehicle if you feel that repair costs are getting close to 75% or more from the value of your vehicle where investment is not worth it.


Why is there a grinding noise when I turn left?

As we highlighted before, whenever you feel there is a grinding noise every time you perform a turn, whether left or right, your issue is most likely related to a bad CV joint. If that's the case, have your mechanic inspect the CV joint and confirm it's in good condition or replace it if needed.

Can an alternator make a grinding noise?

Yes, a bad alternator might make some grinding noises, and these noises will most likely come from the engine compartment. When that happens, you must take the issue seriously and replace the alternator if needed to prevent dealing with situations where you can't start the vehicle because of a bad battery as the alternator did not charge it.


Grinding noises can be linked to a variety of internal vehicle problems. Therefore, you must take it seriously and resolve the issue immediately to prevent dealing with major breakdowns.

Learning about “what does it mean when your car is making a grinding noise?” is extremely important to prevent dealing with more complications that could cost you thousands of dollars. Typically, a grinding noise might come from the engine compartment due to a problem with the water pump, alternator, or power steering. However, if you feel that the grinding noise is happening whenever you hit the brakes, the problem might be linked to a bad brake pad or rotor. However, if the grinding noise is clearer whenever you turn, your issue is linked to the bad CV joint.

As we highlighted in this article, repair costs to get rid of vehicle grinding noise vary significantly depending on the source of the problem. However, as a rule of thumb, automotive experts suggest that if repair costs approach 75% or more from your vehicle's value, you should consider selling your vehicle instead and using its money to buy a better car that doesn't have any problem.

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