When I turn my key the car makes an awful grinding noise and then starts up fine. What is this and should I have it looked at?
Sounds like your torque converter ring gear is worn. This is the gear the starter meshes with to start the engine. It can be checked by removing the starter and inspecting the teeth while turning the crankshaft by hand.
Or the starter gear…
…or both by now. You need to have an independent mechanic look at your vehicle. You are causing more damage each time you start the car.
Concur w/the above, this needs to be looked at by a pro asap. If that ring gear gets damaged enough by all the grinding during cranking, the entire transmission has to be removed to even begin to fix the problem. If you are lucky and catch it in time, there’s a good chance you’ll only need to replace the starter. No need to remove the transmission.