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I've been hearing a metallic grinding and scraping noise mostly on cold start, at low RPMs, and at low gears. On cold start, it grinds for a few seconds and then eventually goes away. After starting, the noise is worst when I first lightly depress the accelerator, and goes away as I depress it more. I've noticed it gets worse sometimes when I shift from park to reverse or drive, so I have a feeling it's my transmission.

The noise is certainly coming from under the car (not the engine), but after getting underneath, my friend and I could not find the source (the car was already warm at that point). We topped off my transmission fluid, but that didn't change anything; we couldn't find the dipstick to actually check the levels.

Car is an automattic 2003 Saturn L200 with 89,500 miles. I just recently changed the oil. I bought it last July and had a number of parts fail on me, so I'm not confident the previous owner took pristine care of it.

Also, I live in Rochester, NY and so the car had to survive a harsh winter. I had no problems during the winter, however.

Any ideas?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Turns out it was just my heat shield rattling. I put a hose clamp on it to secure it like in this video

Anything to do with the transmission (or torque converter, as one friend suggested) was ruled out because the car drives without any problem.

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While I'm glad you found the issue, your friends premise of discounting the tranny or torque converter is a bad one. I have seen where one or the other is going bad, will make noises, but will still allow the vehicle to operate normally ... at least for a time. Good deal on the fix. I like it when it's easy, lol! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 5 '14 at 5:00

I would say try checking level of gearbox oil.

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While I wouldn't throw out this answer, the OP already stated they put more fluid in the transmission. You may want to expound on how to find the dipstick (if you have the knowledge) and how to ensure they have not over filled their transmission. An answer like this may get down voted due to the lack of any real information. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 4 '14 at 18:51

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