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    Today when driving to work I was slowing to approach a roundabout when I heard this weird grinding noise, as though I'd missed a gear or ran over some metal.

    I was switching gears at the time and I could have missed my gear before putting it into second, is it possible to miss your gears/grind your gears without even realising?

    I've been overthinking it for hours, worrying that it's my car or that I've hit or scraped something or someone.

    Yes, you can grind your gears even if you are experienced and there are plenty of causes; not using the clutch properly; lack of concentration; wrong shoes; fold in the carpet or a shifted mat can prevent you depressing the clutch.
    If the car has a serious issue the grinding will happen again. Try it. If it happens in the gearbox itself you should feel it in the gear shift.
    If you hit something the sound isn't going to be like a bunch of metal cogs being stripped off. Just look around and under your car. Underneath; are there any suspiciously clean scrapes?
    You'll need a proper car expert to explain about all the bits in the wheels though, like bearings and stuff.

    Yes, it's possible. A lot of the time our brains tend to go on auto pilot mode when driving, interrupting it while it's doing its thing can throw it off.. That being said, you should know whether it was the box or not, it's a sound you just sort of know.

    There's a few scenarios that come to mind here...
    • Clutch pedal wasn't depressed enough. Could be many reasons why; seat too far back, thinner soles on your shoes thus rendering muscle memory somewhat redundant, folded carpit.
    • Tried to put it into reverse. This is dependent on the gearbox though, some wont let you anywhere near reverse without some sort or purposeful action. Some will let you partially slot it into reverse, and thus you'll get a grinding noise (A lot of boxes in Fords do this).
    • Mechanical problem.
    Right now I'd probably go with the clutch pedal not being depressed enough, maybe you lifted too early, or tried to shift before the clutch pedal was depressed enough.
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