Car Noise

When riding in a car, noise can be not only annoying and tiring but also hazardous.

When you drive or ride in your car, what do you hear? Is yours a quiet car, with a soothing and peaceful ride? Or do you hear the roar of tires rolling on the road surface and the dull hiss of wind rushing past the windows?

Does your car offer an acoustic environment that invites you to enjoy classical music on a high-quality stereo system? Or is it so noisy that you have to turn up the radio or CD player just to be able to hear the music over the background roar?

Problems Caused by Automobile Noise

Although the problem of vehicle noise has improved greatly over the past few decades, many vehicles still have a level of interior noise that is noticeable and sometimes annoying:
  • The constant monotonous roar is mentally fatiguing and saps your energy.
  • If you are trying to talk with others in the car, you have to raise your voice to be heard. Conversation becomes an effort, and some of the subtleties of communication are lost.
  • If you want to listen to music, you have to play it loud just so you can hear it over the noise, and you can't hear the nuances in the music.

A noisy car can even be a safety issue:

  • The fatigue caused by the constant noise reduces your alertness and can cause drowsiness, increasing the chances of an accident.
  • You may not hear sounds such as an emergency vehicle's siren or the warning blast of a train's horn, which can lead to an accident.
  • You may not notice changes in the sound of the car's operation, which can be useful warning signs of auto trouble. Car sounds are used to help diagnose problems, if you are able to hear them.
  • Some car noise can damage your hearing over the long term. If you are riding in a convertible with the top down, it's common for the noise level to average 85–90 decibels, which over time is loud enough to cause hearing loss or ringing in the ears.

Causes of Car Noise

The main factors contributing to car noise are:
  • The noise of the tires against the road surface. The type of road surface and the road texture have a big impact on the level of noise. The type of tires also makes a big difference, and even the level of tire inflation can affect the level of tire noise.
  • Wind noise, the sound of the air rushing past the surface of the car. Some of this noise is unavoidable, but it is made worse if there are bad seals or if the windows or doors are misaligned. Poorly positioned wiper blades also contribute to wind noise.

Decibels Aren't the Whole Story

Some car noise is expected, acceptable, and even desirable. If you drive a sporty car, it wouldn't seem right to have a whisper-quiet ride. If you have a powerful engine, you want to hear it!

Or maybe the steady background noise isn't loud enough to be a problem, but you can hear the rattle and clatter of loose or misaligned parts clinking together. If your car is a quieter one, you might be able to hear the creaking and squeaking of leather, vinyl, and plastic parts rubbing together, sounds which can be annoying in their own right.

How to Reduce Car Noise

If there is a specific source of noise in your car, such as moving parts rubbing together or rattling around, with a bit of detective work you can often identify the cause and eliminate the problem. Correcting body misalignments can reduce wind noise, and it's also possible to add soundproofing to your car.

Some tires are specially engineered to reduce road noise, and by switching to one of these you can make a vast improvement. And of course if you are in the market to purchase a new vehicle, you can choose one that gets higher ratings for a quiet ride.

Read more: Suggestions for quieter automobiles, SUVs, and minivans. Quiet tires.

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