It can be concerning when you begin to hear grinding noises while driving your car. This got me wondering what the cause of these types of issues is and how serious they are. What I learned helped me address my issue and figure out the best course of action to remedy it.
Grinding noises while driving at low speeds are commonly caused by bad cv joints, transmission issues, and bad brake pads or rotors. Grinding noises can also be caused by faulty wheel bearings or a loose engine belt. All of these issues can evolve into more serious issues and should be addressed as soon as possible.
This guide will provide you with more information on how to diagnose and remedy these issues to stop the rubbing noise while turning at slow speeds.
8 Reasons Behind A Grinding Noise When Driving At Low Speeds And How To Fix
Bad CV Joint
Bad CV joints are another common cause of a vehicle making a variety of grinding and thumping noises at low speeds. The CV joints are responsible for holding the drive shaft in place and transferring the power from the transmission to the wheels. When the CV joints become worn, you will begin to notice significant grinding noises while driving at low speeds.
Bad CV joints are caused by normal wear and tear as well as aggressive driving habits. Symptoms of bad CV joints include:
- Rubbing noises while turning
- Grinding noise while driving
- Unresponsive steering
You will need to replace the CV joints in your vehicle if you notice that they are worn or damaged. A mechanic will be able to determine the best course of action for addressing your CV joint issues.
A damaged differential can also cause grinding noises at low speeds. The differential is responsible for taking power from the transmission and distributing it to the wheels properly. If your differential is not working properly, you will begin to notice grinding noises more often.
Common signs to help identify a damaged differential include:
- Grinding noises while accelerating
- Trouble controlling vehicle
- Rattle noises at low speeds
The differential can become damaged due to normal wear and tear of your vehicle. Over time, the differential will begin to become less effective and eventually will need to be replaced. You should take your vehicle to a mechanic and let them inspect the differential. They will be able to provide you with the best course of action.
Transmission issues can also cause grinding noises while driving at slower speeds. If you believe the grinding noise is coming from the engine block, it may actually be coming from the transmission. This issue is much more prevalent in vehicles with automatic transmissions.
In vehicles with automatic transmissions, grinding noises from the transmission indicate a serious issue that should be addressed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the transmission is one of the most expensive vehicle components to repair and replace.
Symptoms that you can use to identify transmission issues include:
- Grinding noises from the engine block
- Trouble accelerating
- Issues starting the vehicle
- Vehicle running hot
Most transmission issues are caused by poor maintenance routines, low fluid levels, or a bad clutch. Unfortunately, by the time you are hearing a grinding noise from the transmission, it is likely that it has been damaged permanently and will need to be repaired or replaced.
You will need to take your car to a mechanic and have them inspect the transmission so they can offer you the best course of action to address it.
Bad Brake Pad/Rotors
A cracked or worn brake pad and rotor can also cause significant grinding noises while driving at low speeds. A cracked brake pad can become uneven and rub against the rotor. This can happen even when the brakes are not currently being used.
The noise is more prevalent when turning because movements in the brake area will begin to press the pad to the rotor. Another common cause of brake pad rubbing is foreign objects like rocks finding their way between the brake pad and the rotor.
Any foreign objects will need to be removed as soon as possible to avoid scratches and further damage to the brake pad. You should inspect your brake pads for damage and foreign objects to resolve the rubbing issue.
If you need to replace your brake pads, you should do so in pairs. This will help ensure even wear and lower the chances of encountering issues in the future. You can take your vehicle to a mechanic or replace the brake pads yourself if you have the tools and know-how.
A bad alternator can also cause grinding noises while driving at low speeds. The alternator rotates to create the necessary friction to transfer mechanical energy into electrical energy. The ball bearings in the alternator spin to help create a smooth energy transfer.
When the alternator’s ball bearing is damaged or worn, it can cause significant grinding noises, especially at low speeds. You can accurately determine if your alternator is causing the grinding noise by listening for the grinding noise while raising the RPMs of the engine.
If you notice that the grinding increases significantly while raising the engine’s RPMs, this indicates an issue with the alternator. Alternator issues are commonly caused by normal wear and tear. As your vehicle gets older, the likelihood of having bearing issues increases significantly.
If you notice that your alternator causing grinding noises, you will need to take your vehicle to a mechanic to be serviced. There, they will determine whether or not your alternator should be replaced or if the bearings should be replaced.
Bad Wheel Bearings
Bad wheel bearings can also cause grinding while driving at low speeds. The wheel bearings are responsible for keeping the wheels in place and keeping them rolling properly. Friction can cause the wheel bearings to no longer function properly.
Once the wheel bearings have worn down enough, you will begin to hear grinding noise when slowing down or driving at slower speeds. The longer you drive your vehicle with bad wheel bearings, the higher your chances of encountering more serious issues with your vehicle.
Common symptoms of bad wheel bearings include:
- Grinding noises at low speeds
- Trouble steering
- Unresponsive turning
- Squealing noise while accelerating
Your wheel bearings can be damaged by normal wear and will eventually need to be replaced based on how long you have had your vehicle. You should take your vehicle to a mechanic and have them inspect your wheel bearings and replace them if necessary.
Bad Brake Calipers
Bad brake calipers can frequently cause grinding noises while driving at slow speeds. The brake calipers of your vehicle work together with the master cylinder to create a vacuum that moves the piston in and out of the brake calipers.
Worn brake calipers can get stuck causing grinding while driving at slow speeds. They can also cause the brake pads and rotors to wear prematurely if not addressed as soon as possible. Bad brake calipers can be identified by:
- Grinding noises while driving
- Problems controlling your vehicle
- Brake issues
Brake calipers can become damaged due to wear and tear or aggressive driving habits. If you find that your brake calipers are damaged, you should take them to a mechanic to be repaired.
Loose Engine Belt
A loose engine belt can also cause grinding noises while driving at low speeds. You will notice a loose engine belt grinding at speeds lower than 20mph. The engine belt is responsible for keeping your engine working properly.
The most common cause of a loose engine belt is a bad tensioner pulley or regular wear from driving. Eventually, you will need to replace the engine belt to ensure your vehicle’s engine works properly. You can temporarily address the issue by tightening the tensioner pulley with a ratchet.
It is best to take your vehicle to a mechanic to be serviced when you notice that your engine belt is loose. You will need to replace it if it is too worn or damaged.
Loose Timing Chain
A loose timing chain can also cause grinding noises while driving at slow speeds. The timing chain is a vital component of your vehicle that keeps your engine functioning properly. If the tensioner inside the engine fails, it is likely that your timing chain will come loose and cause issues with the engine.
A loose timing chain will cause the camshaft and the crankshaft to not communicate with each other properly. This will cause grinding noise from the engine that will eventually damage it and potentially cause the need for costly repairs.
Common symptoms of a loose timing chain include:
- Grinding noises from the engine
- Trouble accelerating
- General engine issues
You should consider replacing the tensioner that holds the timing chain in place to remedy these issues. If you find that your timing chain has become damaged, it will need to be replaced by a mechanic.
Is It Dangerous To Keep Driving When My Car Is Making A Grinding Noise?
It can be dangerous to drive your car while it is making a grinding noise at low speeds. Depending on the cause of the grinding noise, you could wind up in a situation where you lose control of your vehicle or the ability to turn properly.
This will cause unsafe driving conditions for you and other drivers on the road. That being said, if you have only recently begun to hear grinding noises while turning, you may have some time before the issue becomes more serious.
It is highly advised that you have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic if you notice significant grinding noises while driving at low speeds. There are many different serious issues you could encounter while driving your vehicle while it is making grinding noises while driving at low speeds.
For example, brake failure is a possibility if the grinding noise is caused by faulty brake pads or rotors. Damaged CV joints can cause a complete breakdown of the vehicle’s axle, causing dangerous driving conditions and costly repair costs.
Engine damage can be caused by a faulty timing chain, which can lead to expensive repairs. You could also wind up with unresponsive vehicle controls if your CV joints are faulty. Finally, a bad alternator can cause your battery to drain and leave you stranded. Because of the possibility of these issues, it is important to address the cause of your rubbing noises as soon as possible.
Grinding noises while driving slowly can be caused by several different issues, including faulty brake pads or rotors, alternator issues, and damaged bearings or cv joints. All of these problems can eventually lead to unsafe driving conditions and should be addressed as soon as possible.
It is important to have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic whenever you begin to notice significant rubbing noises while turning. A mechanic will be able to offer you the best course of action for addressing your issue.