Even if you drive a modern vehicle with a silk-smooth V6 or with a whisper-quiet electric motor, road noise is something you are going to have to deal with. In this article, we will go about how to reduce tire noise in cars.
The road noise you hear in the cabin of your vehicle is produced when the tread of the tires makes contact with the road surface. You can also hear several other noises when your tires hit potholes and other irregular surfaces or even the sounds emanated by the suspension components when moving.
Generally, higher-end versions or premium vehicles offer a higher level of sound insulation. That translates not only into lower tire noise levels as well as on a feeling of overall solidity and quality, especially when traveling on degraded pavements and hitting potholes. A muted distant noise of the suspension working is the only thing you’re going to hear.
If you drive an older model or an economy car, chances are that you’re dealing with a lot of noise coming from your tires and suspension going straight to your vehicle’s cabin, getting you and your passengers tired and annoyed. At highway speeds, road noise is one of the major concerns. Tire noise on highways can be very intrusive.
In this article, we are going to help you how to reduce tire noise in a car, and achieve that upmarket feeling and riding comfort you desire.
Table of Contents
- Where should I start?
- Wrap up
Where should I start?
What can cause tire noise? Most tire noise symptoms you can hear are coming from airborne sound, generated by the tires and moving suspension components. Another big portion is induced by the vibration (tire vibration noise) that is sent through the structure of the car.
Road noise can enter your cabin in some key places such as the doors, the vehicle floor and wheel arches, and the trunk.
Most cars have doors with very minimal insulation – just two sheet panels with an empty space inside for the window mechanism. It’s commonly one of the less insulated areas in the whole car, so insulating your front doors will have a fair impact on the volume of road noise that goes inside your cabin.
Doors are one of the simpler areas to work on, as you just need to remove the door cards to access its interior. Hence is the best place for a beginner to start the sound-deadening process.
Butyl rubber mats are the most effective way to kill sheet panel vibration noises and also to block airborne sound from the exterior. We’ll be using those while soundproofing car road noise.
- After a good cleaning, we start by sticking those butyl mats to the outer door sheet, ensuring to cover as much of the door as possible with insulation, while taking care to avoid obstructing any moving parts such as the lock or window mechanisms.
- To achieve optimal results with tire noise reduction, we also cover with butyl rubber mats the internal door sheet and the holes for accessing the window mechanism. This way we attain a great barrier to the airborne noise inside the door, blocking it to enter the cabin.
- We end the process by applying sound-absorbing foam at the top of the butyl layer. This will absorb interior airborne sound waves, reducing echoes and high-pitched frequencies, and will also act as a bed for the door card, muffling all kinds of rattles and giving it a more solid consistency.
This easy-to-do process, will not only contribute to reducing tire and road noise in the cabin but will also improve dramatically your car’s stereo sound quality and grant a solid and upmarket door-shut sound.
Reduce noise from the Floor
This is one of the most difficult areas to work on, as it requires to disassemble a lot of your vehicle’s interior to grant full access, to the metal. You need to remove your front and rear seats, the center console, door sills, and other plastic trim surrounding the carpet and the whole carpet itself.
However, improving the floor’s noise-blocking capabilities will dramatically affect the way road noise is entering your cabin. It’s a key aspect to give the vehicle a greater feeling of solidity and isolation from the road surface.
Despite being an area with generally some manufacturer insulation, it has a big margin for improvement.
- After having your vehicle’s floor pan metal exposed, give it a good clean and let it dry completely.
- Secondly, stick a full layer of butyl rubber mats, covering every inch of the floor, side sills, under the back seat cushion, and the interior side of the wheel arches. This will block airborne exterior noise as well as take a key role in damping metal vibrations.
- At the top of the butyl rubber, you have just stuck to the floor, you’ll be applying the best soundproof carpet underlay. Use some mass-loaded vinyl (MLV), to increase the noise barrier to the exterior. Always take care to check for interior fitting clearances. MLV is available in different thicknesses to fit most areas.
How to Reduce Cabin Noise from Exhaust and Trunk
You might be wondering what’s the connection between the tire noise and the exhaust noise. In the case of the rear tires, like the exhaust, we’re referring to sound coming from the rear of the car. To insulate your car from those noises now we’re going over the car’s trunk.
Despite being an area far away from the front passengers, the trunk can be the main source of tire noise, especially in a hatchback or in a station wagon, where there isn’t any fixed physical separation between the cabin and the cargo area.
There are a lot of older vehicles where the care taken to sound-proof the trunk is almost inexistent, having just the metal floor and a thin finishing carpet. Some entry-level models even feature exposed metal without any trim at all on the sides. That lack of sound barriers let most of the exterior airborne sound inside the car.
In the above-mentioned situations, the trunk should be a priority if the goal is to reduce road noise. It’s also a fairly simple task to perform a sound-deadening process in this area. Generally, you just need to disassemble the side trim panels (if available), the rear bottom trim panel, and the underside carpet (removing the spare wheel, if there is one).
- Start by in-depth cleaning all the sheet panels
- Then apply a full layer of butyl rubber mats, both to the bottom, to the sides, and the rear panel of the vehicle’s trunk, also not forgetting to cover the wheel arches. This will create an enclosure, blocking exterior noise and damping structure-born noise.
- For improved results, place a mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) sheet, and cut the same size and shape as the carpet at the trunk bottom.
- We end the process by applying a thick layer of sound-absorbing foam to the sides as also to the wheel arches. This will absorb interior airborne sound waves, reducing echoes and high-pitched frequencies.
Reducing road noise effectively is not always an easy achievement. The airborne sound produced by the tread of the tires rolling on a rough pavement can enter the vehicle cabin through a lot of different places, as explained in this article.
Damping structure-borne noise spreading by working suspension movements when hitting potholes can also be a challenge.
Sound-deadening the trunk may be the easiest and more effective way to improve the ride comfort of an old cheap vehicle, especially if it is a station wagon or a hatchback. Most have few to no insulation materials in that area. Alongside the tire noise, that process will also reduce dramatically the exhaust roar.
Working on insulating the doors will also play a big role in reducing road noise, especially the front ones. Bringing other positive achievements like a huge improvement of the sound stereo system and a solid premium door shut sound.
But if you’re willing to attain a luxury car result, you can’t forget to work on the vehicle’s floor too. That will, ultimately, give your car a greater feeling of overall solidity and isolation from the road surface. It may be one of the most difficult areas to work on, but it’s worth it.
Also, looking for the best quiet car tires on the market is important to keep road noise lowest as possible.
Following this article on how to reduce tire noise in cars will help you get all the processes easy and clear.
Check out some of our other awesome articles: