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Grinding Noise When Accelerating | 5 Causes + How To Fix It

A grinding noise when driving your vehicle is never a good sign. This type of sound can be caused by various issues and should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid causing more significant problems. Some of the most common reasons your car makes a grinding noise when accelerating are:

  • Transmission Issues
  • Bad Wheel Bearings
  • CV Joint Damage
  • Issues With Your Differential
  • Worn Motor Mounts

Today, we will look at why each of these issues will cause a grinding sound when accelerating and how you can fix them.

5 Reasons Your Car Makes A Grinding Noise When Accelerating

A grinding noise can sometimes sound like a squeaking or squealing sound, depending on where it is coming from and who hears it. Since many issues that cause a grinding noise when driving will be found internally in more significant components, the sound could be muffled or magnified, depending on where it is located. Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 reasons your car is making a grinding noise when accelerating.

#1 Transmission Problems

The transmission in your vehicle has many moving parts, especially those equipped with an automatic transmission. Your drivetrain is responsible for transferring power from your engine to your drive wheels, so there will be many components that can wear or become damaged over time. Your transmission’s clutch, flywheel, flexplate, and gears are all items that can wear down and cause a grinding noise while accelerating. A grinding noise from your transmission will usually present itself when you accelerate or shift gears. When shifting gears, a loud noise, such as grinding, is typically a sign that your transmission needs to be serviced or replaced.

Fixing Transmission Problems

If you are experiencing any grinding noise coming from your transmission, pull over and have it towed to your nearest auto repair shop. Driving with a grinding transmission can cause long-term damage that could cost thousands to repair. 

To fix a transmission issue in your vehicle, you will first need to identify what type of noise it is making. This can sound like a grinding noise, a squeaking sound, or even a knocking noise in some cases. Since a transmission is a sealed unit, it is best to have an experienced transmission specialist inspect your transmission to diagnose the issue properly. A professional will know how to check your transmission depending on the type of noise it makes.

#2 Bad Wheel Bearings

A bad wheel bearing is one of the more straightforward fixes that won’t cost too much to repair. A bad wheel bearing can cause a grinding noise when the wheels turn and will usually increase volume when accelerating.

Wheel bearings are part of the wheel assembly that connects the wheel to the axle. A wheel bearing looks like a set of steel balls stored inside a metal ring. They help the wheels spin without creating too much friction due to the grease packed inside them. Once the wheel bearings go bad or run out of grease, they can start to grind against the metal, causing a grinding sound to come from your front wheels. Some vehicles may also have wheel bearings in the rear, causing a grinding sound to come from the rear wheels.

Fixing Bad Wheel Bearings

Fixing a bad wheel bearing is a relatively simple job for most do-it-yourselfers. The wheel, the rotor, and the brake caliper will need to be removed. From here, you will need to locate and remove the bad wheel bearing and install a new, adequately greased wheel bearing. If you want to have a reputable auto shop replace your wheel bearings, most wheel bearing replacements will cost about $300 for most vehicles.

#3 CV Joint Damage

A CV joint, or constant velocity joint, connects the transmission to the wheels in front-wheel drive vehicles. Think of this as a free-floating axle compared to standard solid axles in the rear of rear-wheel drive vehicles. The CV joint allows for more movement on drive wheels that are also used for steering.

A bad CV joint could be the reason your car makes noise when accelerating at a low speed. When a CV joint goes bad, it sounds like clicking, knocking, or grinding noise when accelerating at low speeds. You may also notice a popping sound when taking a tight turn. It can also cause a vibration when driving or grease to line the inside of your tire if the CV joint boot has ripped.

Fixing A Damaged CV Joint

There isn’t a way to fix a damaged CV joint, so you will have to resort to having it replaced. Replacing a CV joint is not a task for the typical do-it-yourselfer, so you will want to take your vehicle to a licensed mechanic to make the fix. The price of a new CV joint is relatively low, but the labor cost will be what pushes this job to close to $700-$1,000 in many cases. If you want to replace it yourself, you could save hundreds of dollars in labor.

#4 Issues With Your Differential

The differential, sometimes referred to as a diff, in your vehicle is part of the drivetrain and allows your wheels to spin at different speeds. Found at the front or the rear of your car between each set of wheels, the differential connects to your engine and transmission via the driveshaft. 

As your engine transfers power to the transmission, the transmission spins the driveshaft, turning the differential’s internal gears to split the power to each of your wheels. Since the differential is comprised of a few different sets of gears, a grinding or howling noise can be heard from a worn-out differential.

Correcting Differential Issues

If you notice a grinding noise coming from your differential, it is likely too far gone to repair. Most differentials have to be replaced once they start grinding as the gears have most likely been damaged. 

Due to the complicated nature of the components in your differential, it is highly suggested to have a professional diagnose the issue and make the repair. This will usually be a complete overhaul of the differential, replacing all of the necessary parts along the way.

However, if you only notice a whining sound, you could check your fluid levels to see if your differential fluid is low. Topping it off could get rid of the whining sound and keep you from having to pay a large repair bill.

#5 Worn Engine Mounts

The engine is another area that has many different components that can cause your vehicle to make a grinding noise when accelerating. When diagnosing a noise from the engine, it is crucial to narrow down the sound it is making. A grinding sound will be different from a squealing or tapping sound, which could be a timing belt. You may also notice a rattling noise if your catalytic converters are damaged or a component such as a radiator isn’t bolted down correctly.

A grinding noise coming from the engine bay is usually due to worn engine mounts. The engine mounts are metal mounts with rubber or urethane bushings that mount the engine into the frame. They keep the engine in place and reduce the amount of vibrations transferred from the engine to the vehicle. When the bushings wear out, you can hear metal on metal grinding or scraping noise as the engine moves during acceleration.

Replacing Worn Engine Mounts

Replacing an engine mount is a relatively easy job for those with the correct tools. Motor mounts are relatively cheap and can be replaced in a couple of hours. If you want to have a mechanic replace your engine mounts, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for the repair bill. This should be a quick job for many vehicles and will help restore the overall performance of your car.

The Bottom Line

Now that we have brought you up to speed on what can cause a grinding noise when driving, you should be able to more accurately diagnose why your car might be making a grinding sound. Regular car maintenance can help prevent grinding noises and costly repair bills. Speak with your local dealership or a trusted mechanic to learn how to maintain the components listed above to ensure you keep your car safe and reliable for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does A Bad Transmission Make A Grinding Noise?

Yes. A bad transmission can make a grinding noise, depending on which component has gone out. A bad transmission can make a squealing and squeaking noise if the synchronizer has gone out.

Is It Safe To Drive With A Grinding Noise?

Yes and No. Various issues with your vehicles can cause a grinding noise. If you are experiencing a grinding noise, it is essential to pinpoint where the noise is coming from. For more minor issues like worn-out brake pads or a rattling heat shield, you can get by with driving it for a short time until you can get it repaired. For more significant issues where the grinding noise comes from the engine or transmission, you will want to stop driving the vehicle and have it towed to your local mechanic shop to prevent further damage.

What Are The Consequences If I Drive With A Grinding Noise?

Driving with a grinding noise can cause more damage to other components if not taken care of soon enough. If the grinding component is a major component such as the engine or transmission, you can cause catastrophic damage that may result in a very hefty repair bill.

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