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Screeching/scrapping noise when I turn on the ignition

I bought my Saturn used in 1998 w/ 40K miles. I have since driven it 162K+ miles. Been going to my mechinac for 32 years. He’s a mechinac’s mechinac and I trust him! Two years ago I started hearing a noise once in a while. When I turn on the ignition. I hear a screeching/scrapping noise that’s unbelievable. It startles me!! to say the least. I turn off the ignition and restart the car. Starts up just fine like nothing ever happen. There’s no rim or reason when this will happen again. Weather doesn’t seem to be a problem, or not driven. My Machanic wants me to bring my car in & keep over night. I don’t want to because who knows when this will happen again and I’m without my car for days.

I’ve had the “starter” replaced. The “belt’s” checked numerous times.

Switch to 10/50 oil.

Car gets it’s regular 3K/3Mo Oil change. Passes “Smog Checks”.

I’ve had many problems and my Machinac has fixed them all. My car run smoothly. Except for this once in a while noise.

Any suggestions what’s causing the noise?


Was the flywheel carefully checked when the new starter was installed? The kind of thing you describe sounds exactly like an engagement problem between starter and flywheel. If the starter was replaced and the problem continues then you may have some problems with some of the teeth on the flywheel.

Or has this problem only been happening since the starter was replaced? Why was it replaced?

Thank you very much for your response. I will talk to my Mechanic about the flywheel.

No. The noise was happening prior to replacing the starter.

Why starter replace you asked. One time I couldn’t get my key out of the ignition. My key teeth had warn down. Had to get a new key made and the starter was replaced at the same time.

Does this noise occur when you turn the key to the start position, or does it happen before you turn the key to the start position? Try this: when you are ready to start the car, don’t twist the key all the way to the start position, but just turn it to the position where the ignition is on. If you hear the noise before you activate the starter, I would bet on the heater blower motor. On the other hand, if the noise occurs when you turn the key to the start position, the problem is someplace in the starter.

The bearings in the idler pulley for the belt tension may be going out. A common problem and easy to fix.