2005 Dodge Neon/SX 2.0 grinding noise on startup

Hi folks, bit of a long description so I’ll keep it to bullet points:

• 2005 Dodge SX2.0 (Canadian car; Neon in the States, I believe), 196,500 kms, auto transmission, not SRT
• Original owner, mostly city driving, accident free, lightly driven the last few years as our “second” car
• Well maintained, all scheduled oil changes, etc.
• 2 months ago started making a grinding, metal-on-metal sound, seems to come from engine
• Noise is heard only after first start of the day and when accelerating; the noise almost disappears on idling and stops completely after 10-15 minutes of driving. Does not appear again that day, even if car sits for a few hours between outings
• Wasn’t too bad at first but has gotten progressively louder and more noticeable
• More pronounced when driving over rough spots or bumps
• Vehicle performance is not affected: no stammering or stalling, no problems with acceleration, braking, transmission
• All fluid levels are good. Air filter and spark plugs / wires changed recently
• In Spring 2016 (30,000 kms ago), front sway bar bushings replaced, upper and lower torque mounts replaced, also timing belt, water pump, thermostat
• No codes appear on scan tool

We’re ready to take it to a shop for diagnosis and would appreciate any suggestions or pointers that may help narrow down the possibilities. The most curious thing to us is that the noise stops completely when the car is warmed up, after 10-15 minutes driving.

Thank you from Canada!

My only suggestion is to make sure they keep it overnight in order to hear the noise on startup. I am curious, if they are able to diagnose the problem, please post back with what they found.

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Harmonic balancer is failing and the outer ring is rubbing against something solid is a wild guess based on the description of the noise and the KM on the car.

Maybe a simple failing belt tensioner bearing.

Thanks for the suggestions. We’ll be taking it in after Christmas. Will let you know what we find out.

Thanks also to whoever re-posted my query under Maintenance/Repairs. As a newbie, I appreciate the assistance.

Hi folks, as an update, we just had our car repaired. It was the motor mounts. Two were really bad, one was bad, and one was marginal; all were replaced. The latter two are the torque mounts we had replaced almost 4 years ago. We asked them to check the harmonic balancer thanks to Mustangman’s suggestion; they said it was good, no problems at all. The problem is resolved completely, it runs great, no more grinding noise, much tighter feeling, smoother ride altogether. It’s like driving a new car, as much as a 15 year old Neon with 197,000 kms can be “new”. Thanks again for your help and responses.
P.S., the owner of the shop said he knows your forum well! Shoutout to John Sinkie at Budget Brake and Muffler in Port Coquitlam, BC, great guy, great staff, great job done!

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