This morning I started my van with very little to no effort. It cranked on prematurely before I even had the chance to fully turn the key in the ignition. I repeated this act about 4to5 times after in hopes of a different response, but had no luck. After about 30 mins of driving it, I then started to notice a skreeching/grinding noise coming from what seemed to be the igniton/steering column area of the car. Any idea what this could be?
My car has an automatic transmission.
This sounds like something is failing inside your steering column. Steering columns are very complex. There are both electrical components and mechanical components that will interact together in bad ways when things begin to break. The fact that the starter engaged before you fully turned the key is not a good sign. This could easily result in a starter that cranks non-stop. If were to occur, you will need to disconnect the battery to make it stop.
As I said before, steering columns are very complex and don't recommend anyone but the most experienced mechanics to work on them. I recommend enlisting the service of a qualified technician, such as one from YourMechanic, who has the experience necessary to diagnose your steering system and fix this for you.
And I suggest having the tools to disconnect your battery at the ready. I have seen this happen many times and it can damage the motor and the starter.
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