What is this noise?!

When I start my car (usually a cold start) I hear a TERRIBLE grinding-like noise. Other times it sounds like a shuffling noise. And then other times it’s like its over-exerting itself trying to start up. I’ve taken it to the dealer many times as it’s a 2014 Corolla. They have no answers. The claim it’s just a characteristic of the car. I call bull. This isn’t normal for any car. My car has a CVT transmission by the way. Could it be the starter? Spark plugs? Note: the noise is about 1000x worse in winter. Help?! Audio is attached in separate comment. Someone please help. I need answers! Ha.

Here is the audio.

I don’t hear anything unusual on that audio recording.
Is it possible that you are just hearing the sounds of a high idle speed–which is totally normal in cold weather–and which can even take place for a brief time with the first start of the day in warmer weather?

In any event, if you feel that the dealership is being less than fully cooperative, then you need to “kick it up a notch” by referring the problem to the manufacturer. Contact info (both toll-free phone number and mailing address) can be found in your Owner’s Manual.

Your complaint will be given an incident number, and they will contact the dealership in order to try to…motivate…the guys at the dealership to be more helpful. If that is still to no avail, then you can request an appointment with the Zone Representative, who visits the dealerships on an occasional basis.

I honestly don’t understand why so many people allow dealerships to “blow them off” when help for valid problems is almost always available from the manufacturer.

I have more audio. Trust me, it’s not a high speed idle. It happens year round, just worse in cold weather. In fact, it just did it about an hour ago when my mom drove my car to the store. I heard the noise from inside the house. That’s how bad it is. I’ll try to find a better audio clip of it. This isn’t thhe first run-around I’ve had with them. They lied to me about my tires cupping bc they didn’t want to replace them (as it was their fault due to a mid-alignment). @VDCdriver

In that case, why have you tolerated that type of treatment by the dealership on an ongoing basis? From the way that you describe things, it appears that you should have contacted Toyota (at the corporate level) long ago.

All I hear is the car starting up and then the file ends at that point.

My best guess the starter motor winding down after disengaging. Any way to try and pinpoint a location by having someone else start the car?

Heck, the crickets are louder than the starter. It’s fine.

In the video I can see the sky but not the tachometer. It sounds like the engine is racing at start up, are you stepping on the accelerator? It may help in getting assistance from your service department if you showed the instrument cluster and ignition switch in your videos.

The instrument cluster is normal at startup. The noise IS there, I hear it every time I start the car. Did yall listen to the second audio clip? Listen closely. It’s not a normal sound. I do not step on the accelerator at all when I start my car. In fact, just started it again as I’m at work and on break and it did the same thing. It sounds like something is over-exerting itself when starting up. Listen to it closely, it’s similar to a rattling sound toward the middle-to-end of the video. (The loud sound at the end is my air so ignore that).

@VDCdriver I’ve taken this thing in so many times, man. They “can’t do anything” bc “it doesn’t make the noise when it’s there.” I’m going to contact Toyota after one more attempt to get things straightened out by the dealer. I’ve already emailed the service dept. again today awaiting a response since it’s Sunday.

I had/still have trouble with my tires cupping (it’s only one year old, mind you) and took it up there and the tech that “worked on” my car lied to me, but I didn’t feel comfortable with his diagnosis. He told me nothing is wrong with them. So I took it to have a second opinion at Traxx Tires and they showed me exactly where the tires are cupping. He even rode with me and felt exactly what I was talking about. So long story short, I’ve had no luck with the dealer. I won’t be a customer there after this car.

Leave the car overnight at the dealer next cold night, maybe then they will hear it. Chances are if it is bad it will fail and fall under warranty coverage.

I’m planning to leave it there next time I take it in (soon) bc if it sits (even in hot weather) it does this.

If you are being brushed off by the dealer where you bought the car…go to another dealer.

You can take your toyota to any toyota dealer.

These sound clips are so short and with other background noise…it’s hard to zero in on anything.
Try doing another sound clip (maybe the engine running more than 3 seconds) and if there is ANY other noises delete the clip and start over.
We also may be able to hear the bad engine sound if you opened the hood and stood in front of the car to record…while someone else started the car.


I can’t hear any abnormal noise in the videos. Is it a high pitched noise and are you a female. It may be a noise in the range that an adult male cannot hear. I know I used to hear bats chittering as a child, and most women can hear them, but I couldn’t hear them anymore when I grew up.

There may be some camshaft gear noise but the engine is too far away to hear the sound very well. This is a known problem on older Corollas (2009-2010) but I don’t think it is a common problem on 2014 model year… Why such a short clip? We can’t compare normal engine sound with the start up noise.

How many days did you leave the vehicle at the service department to replicate the noise? Technicians usually lose interest after a couple of days, nobody wants to invest 3 hours of time to prove a repair that only pays an hour.

Have you tried another of the same model to see if it also makes the noise?

No, I’m a male. Most of the time Im by myself and have no one else to start the car while I stand in front with the hood opened to pin-point it exactly. I work constantly. I haven’t left it overnight for this issue bc they basically brushed me off last week when I took it in…(I had planned for it to be there overnight) I am, however, going to take it in again asap and will leave it so they WILL hear it. The video clips are short bc it only makes the noise when, and only when, I start it. Afterward it’s normal. I had a 2010 Corolla before this one and yes it did make a grinding noise when I started it, but it was far different from this noise AND it only happened “once every blue moon” so to speak. Not often. I’m not imagining this noise. Trust me it is there. It’s hard to get it on the clips sometimes but on the two I have attached here you can clearly hear the noise. I mean I can, at least. I have driven another '14 Corolla as a rental for a bit, once, and it didn’t do this. My sister also has a '14 Corolla and hers does not do this. Here is another clip. Maybe y’all will hear it this time. It is there. Listen for a rattling/abnormal noise aside from the normal start-up noise. I don’t know how else to describe it, guys.

Is there any chance that the OP is “overrunning” the starter?
I hadn’t thought about that possibility until the OP mentioned that his previous car made the same grinding noise when starting.

When I walk through parking lots, I am surprised at how often I hear people running their starters for longer than they should.

We understand that you hear it, but you know the sound and are waiting for it. Our brains are taking in all kinds of other normal noises and trying to pinpoint a problem.

It wouldn’t work to put the phone on the fender and start the car, we’d hear all kinds of vibrations then. How about propping the phone on a chair, wall, planter etc., in front of the car…but close…and you start it.