Car Maintenance And Repairs

What It Means When You Hear Grinding Noise When Driving At Low Speeds

Mike Cross
Updated Oct 17, 2020
Grinding Noise When Driving At Low Speeds

When you car starts grumbling and grinding, that’s usually its way of trying to tell you something. Those noises don’t happen normally, so when you do hear them it’s important to take note and find the issue. If you hear a grinding noise when driving at low speeds it could be the result of a few different issues. You’ll need to do a little more digging to figure out what is the actual problem.

You may immediately start to worry when you hear the noise because you don’t know what the cause is or how serious it is. Although some issues that cause the grinding noise may be more serious than others, you don’t want to drive for too long after you hear the noise without it getting fixed.

Grinding Noise When Driving At Low Speeds
Grinding Noise When Driving At Low Speeds

What it Means When You Hear a Grinding Noise When Driving at Low Speeds?

Possible Causes

There are a few different reasons why your car might be making that grinding noise. The most common causes are problems with your CV (continual velocity) joints, brake pads, wheel bearings or alternator.

Looking at each one of these things can help you pinpoint exactly where the issue is. If you don’t think it’s any of these issues, then it could be a bigger problem that’s happening in your engine. If that’s the case, take it to get checked out as soon as possible.

CV Joint

The continual velocity (CV) joint is what allows the front wheels to get power and turn properly. If you hear the grinding noise when driving at low speeds, and especially when making turns, your CV joint may be worn out. You’ll hear this noise coming out of the front of the car, so if the sound seems to be coming from the back it’s probably not the CV joint. But if it the CV joint, you’ll want to get it fixed soon. As the CV joint continues to wear down it can fail altogether causing your front wheels to lose power. Which means your vehicle will be stuck in park and you won’t be able to go anywhere.

Brake Pads

This is a common culprit of grinding noises in cars because as the brakes wear down, it causes the metal brake rotor to rub against the metal backing of the break pad. This metal on metal friction causes the grinding noise. Metal grinding against metal is never something that you want to be happening in your car. However, the grinding noise caused by this problem only occurs when you’re pressing on the brakes, so if you’re going at slower speed and pressing the brakes when you hear the noise this may be your issue. If you hear it when you’re not pressing on the brakes then you’ll want to look for other issues.

Wheel Bearing

Wheel Bearing
Wheel Bearing

Wheel bearings create a buffer between your wheel and your axel that eliminates friction. Wheel bearings are made of a set of steel balls held together by a metal ring. The wheel bearing allows your wheels to go rotate quickly without causing too much friction. These may wear down over time causing the grinding noise to occur, especially when turning or steering. So if you notice that the grinding noise gets louder or only occurs when turning the steering wheel left or right, it’s a good bet that this is your issue. Replacing your wheel bearings is a simple and easy fix.


The alternator is what powers your car’s electrical system and recharges your battery as you drive. Without the alternator, your battery will die and your car won’t stay on for very long. So it’s very important that the alternator is in proper working order. If it’s starting to wear out it can make a grinding noise as you drive your car.

Keep in mind that you may hear it any time that you drive, not just at low speeds. If you find out that the noise is coming from your alternator, this can be an expensive part to repair or replace.

Proper Working

When your car is working properly you shouldn’t hear any grinding or scratching noises. The only noises that you should really notice are the normal hum of the engine. So any noises that you hear when driving your car that are out of the ordinary are a sign that something is not working properly. You shouldn’t ignore these noises, even if your car still seems drive okay and isn’t showing other signs of problems.

What to do?

Based on the descriptions above, try to figure out what exactly is causing the noise. If you can do this on your own, then you can research what you need to do to fix it. It may be as simple as replacing a few parts or it may require the help of a mechanic.

If you can’t find the source of the noise on your own or you don’t feel comfortable making any repairs by yourself, you should always take it to a professional to have it looked at. And if you do try to repair it on your own and the noise still continues, take it to get looked at as soon as possible.

If you have bluetooth obd2 scanner , use it to run a diagnostic on your car.


If you hear a grumbling noise when driving at low speeds, it usually means that certain parts in your car are wearing down. Depending on when exactly you hear the noise and where it sounds like it’s come from it could be different issues that are causing it. Understanding what could be causing the noise and then diagnosing it will help you better understand what you need to do to fix it. If you can’t figure out where the noise is coming from or you can’t repair it on your own, you don’t want to ignore the problem. Take it to a professional as soon as possible so that you can get it looked at, as the problem could get worse the longer you let it go without getting it checked.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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