From the roar of the engine to the sound of the brakes, you’re intimately familiar with the regular sounds of your vehicle. When there is a new and unfamiliar noise, it grabs your attention. If the sound persists for a few days, it’s time to get serious about finding the cause, especially if it’s a grinding noise.
Grinding noises are associated with rotating parts and rotating systems; any part or system that rotates can cause grinding. If your car starts making grinding noises, don’t wait to get it checked out -- have your technician take care of it before it turns into a bigger issue.
Why Your Wheel/Hub Bearings Can Make a Grinding Noise
A common cause of grinding noises under your car are failing wheel or hub bearings. Wheel bearings allow the wheel and tire to rotate and are designed for low friction, while hub assemblies have an additional responsibility of securing the wheel and tire to the vehicle. If your wheel bearings are worn, it can cause a grinding noise while turning the vehicle. Poor steering and handling and uneven tire wear are just some of the effects of failing wheel bearings.
To determine if a wheel bearing is the culprit, begin driving your vehicle and make a turn to the right and then complete a turn to the left. If the grinding noise is louder when turning in one direction, the likely cause is a failing wheel bearing. If you suspect you have a bad wheel bearing, get your vehicle to your technician for a diagnosis.
If the wheel/hub bearings aren’t causing the grinding noises, it’s time to explore other parts that could be the source of your issues:
Grinding noises can appear when the brake friction material or brake linings have worn away and the steel brake rotor is rubbing against the metal brake pad backing. This causes metal-to-metal contact when the brakes are applied, creating a grinding noise. Typically, the grinding noise will come from either the front or rear brakes, but generally not both. The repair may include new brake pads and rotors.
A worn CV (constant velocity) joint can cause your vehicle to make grinding noises when making tight turns at slow speeds. Left unattended, a damaged CV joint can fail, leaving you with a vehicle that is stuck in park. If it fails while you’re driving, it can lead to a loss of control. Don’t waste any time in getting your vehicle in to your mechanic if you think this is the cause of your grinding noises.
A failing water pump can cause a grinding noise while the engine is running. Without a fully functioning water pump, your car can overheat. If you suspect that your water pump is failing, schedule an appointment with your mechanic before further damage is done to your vehicle.
Grinding noises can also be a sign that the alternator is wearing out. Modern alternators have a decoupler pulley system that helps save fuel but can make a grinding noise that is hard to find. Designed to charge your car’s battery and power the electrical system, a failing alternator can leave you on the side of the road with a dead battery.
AC compressors can also be a source of a grinding noise, and you may only notice it when your air conditioning system is on. Be sure to get it fixed since it not only keeps you cool in hot weather, but it also helps remove moisture from your windows in the winter.
The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.
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