Car Wont Start - makes weird noise

I have a 1998 Toyota Sienna with 177,000 miles on it that so far has pretty much been problem-free. Every couple of weeks for the past few months, however, when I try to start my car, the engine will not turn over. Instead it makes almost like this grinding noise. Every time this happens it takes about 3-4 times of turning the key in the ignition and getting the same sound before it turns over.

I brought my car to the mechanic for that and another issue, and they tried to get my car to make that noise, but it wouldnt, so they couldn’t figure out what the problem with my car was.

Anybody have any suggestions?

Sounds like the bendix unit on the starter itself. When you turn the key the starter motor turns and a solenoid pushes the gear on the starter motor into the gear on the engine to turn the engine over. If it sticks or is not properly meshed with the flywheel gear on the engine, you’ll get the grinding sound. Easiest is to replace the whole starter unit but they can be repaired also.

Or maybe a tooth or two out on the flywheel.