Q: Engine grinds something in the cold

asked by on October 29, 2015

Every time I start the engine in my 2009 Honda Accord cold, i.e. in the morning and after work, there is a kind of grinding noise coming from the engine. This sound goes away after driving for a moment with the transmission in drive. What could cause this, and is it a real concern? This car only has 60,000 miles on it, so I hope there are no major repairs needed at this point.

Any abnormal noise coming from a car always gives me an uneasy feeling, so I can understand the concern here. In fact, this is an issue I am quite familiar with. Our first step would begin with checking the level of the vehicle’s engine oil. It’s always best to check the oil level with the vehicle cold and on a very flat, level surface. Low and/or dirty oil can replicate a grinding condition upon startup, which may be what you are hearing. The noise tends to come from a part known as a Variable Valve Timing Control actuator (VTC). This VTC actuator allows the camshaft to adjust, as needed, at different RPMs to maximize engine performance and fuel economy. When oil is dirty or low, there is not enough pressure to allow the VTC to do its job. This is a known concern with Honda and they have issued a technical service bulletin to guide your certified mechanic on how to resolve this issue for their customers. I recommend that you have a certified mechanic diagnose the noise your vehicle is making to confirm that this is indeed the problem that you are experiencing. This repair is not considered major and can be done in a couple of hours.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Car shakes at highway speed.

This could be a wide range of things ranging from an out of balance wheel and tire, a worn wheel bearing or various other suspension parts. Without additional information related to the sound or how frequently it may be tough...

Oil leak

This suggests you may have a leak resulting from a failing gasket somewhere in your engine. As you know, there are many different places in your motor that are sealed by gaskets. I would suggest narrowing this down by placing...

Total Engine Replacement

If only the timing belt is broken, and there is no valve train or piston damage (due to the belt break for instance), or other engine damage, it will be more cost effective to repair the engine and even do...

Related articles

What Type of Oil Should I Use?
Changing oil in your car is among the most important car maintenance tasks. Your engine may use synthetic motor oil, conventional, or either oil type.
Why Does Motor Oil Viscosity Matter?
Motor oil viscosity determines how thick or thin the oil is. Multiviscosity oils make it unnecessary to change your oil for different seasons.
2012 Ford Edge vs. 2012 Honda Accord: Which One Should I Buy?
Comparing a small SUV or a crossover to a sedan or coupe doesn’t quite seem fair: while the crossover is likely to cost more, it will also have a different skill set than the car as well as a completely...