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Q: Issue with Mazda 626, starts up then makes a grinding noise while in park

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Mazda 626, 2000 yr. Engine attempts to start sometimes successfully in ON key position then makes loud grinding noise while in PARK position. I think the dash lights may come on, but they usually do in ON i believe. The sound/noise is sort of the noise u hear when accidently trying to start car up while its already running. This noise can be briefly heard when shifting gears too. Goes away once in DRIVE or REVERSE. Engine starts up easily in START key position. What might the issue be?

My car has 200000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Your symptoms suggest that the starter solenoid contacts are burned enough to stick in the "Start" position (engaging the starter drive and motor), even when the ignition switch is not energizing the relay portion of the starter solenoid. The starter motor continues to run after the motor starts, causing the horrible grinding. Eventually, the engine speed kicks the start drive back enough to jar the contacts loose, and things are fine - until the next time the solenoid contacts stick. Replace the starter solenoid - usually packaged as a starter assembly.

I would recommend having the starter replacement job completed by a mobile, professional mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, who can assist you at your home.

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