Weird grinding noise, then gone. Flywheel?

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1988 Mazda 929 3.0 V6 4 spd AT, RWD

I tried starting my car today in a parking lot, and the starter motor (Brand new one) made this HORRIBLE clanking/gear grinding noise and the engine did not start. To start my car I really have to crank it and tap the starter a lot which I know is really hard on it, so I thought "oh great I finally broke the starter gear". I tried to start again, and this time the starter motor was actually jammed and did not turn at all. I could hear it groaning as it tried to spin and the voltage guage on my dash just about bottomed out. I let off, and tried one more time to start the car. The starter motor cranked the engine, however it sounded much different like it wasnt grabbing or something. HOWEVER the engine did start. Once it was running, a very loud constant high pitch gear grinding/rubbing noise was coming from the flywheel/bellhousing area, like the teeth of the flywheel were grinding on something metal as it spun.

Now, I pretty much was 100% sure that I either broke the gear on the starter motor, or chipped off a tooth or two on either the starter motor or the flywheel. Not much else that could have been causing those sounds or the car to act that way.

I let the car run that way for about 3 minutes while I looked under the hood and under the car to be sure of where the noise was coming from. Definantly somewhere in between the tranny and engine. I decided to drive it home like that, because I had no other choice. The engine seemed to be running fine it was just making this insane loud grinding noise. I revved the engine to about 3k while it was sitting there to test it at higher RPM before I drove, and the noise went away. I drove it home, no problems, no noises. Tried turning it off and then started it again in my driveway, and it was like nothing ever happened. Starter motor performed just as it always does, engine started, no noise at all. Not even a weird noise while cranking to indicate a broken gear.

What the hell could I have done? Is it possible that the spring that pushes out the gear on the starter motor got jammed and the flywheel was hitting the gear, and revving the engine somehow just unjammed the gear and it sprung back into its place?

posted by  DarkshoT

Have you taken the starter off to see if it has any chipped teeth? Is it aligned properly onto the flywheel? Did you install the starter or did you have someone else do it?

posted by  97Talonchik

I installed it myself. I have not removed it to check it yet because it is such a PITA to get out and I havent had time.

posted by  DarkshoT

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