For many of us, driving is a relaxing experience that allows us to unwind a bit on the way home from work. When excess tire noise becomes loud enough to penetrate that peace, it’s time to do something about it. In this article, we will discuss 9 ways on how to reduce road noise from tires.
Many things can contribute to the increasing volume of your tire noise. Understanding the causes of it can help you to avoid the problem in the future. Of course, some tires are just loud from the outset, and we’ll discuss that too. Sometimes, the best thing to do is get new tires, so we’ll also cover some pointers on how to pick the quietest ones.
For more information on soundproofing some other car parts, you might be interested in our articles:
How to Fix Car Speaker Rattle
How to Quiet Noisy Strut Mounts
How to Quiet a Loud Exhaust
How to Fix Noisy Lifters
Will Thicker Oil Make an Engine Quieter?
Causes of Tire Noise
Knobby Tread Patterns – Tires with really thick tread or knobby tread patterns are noisy by nature. You’ve probably heard the loud humming sound they produce under a large pickup while they drive down the street. This is actually from the tread catching and crushing air pockets at an incredibly rapid rate.
Wider Tires – The more surface area that’s in contact with the ground, the more noise the tire will make. Performance tires tend to be wider for improved traction, but this also means they create more noise because they have a larger area of contact with the asphalt.
Unbalanced Tires – If your tires are out of balance, it can introduce significant amounts of vibration, leading to a much noisier ride. On top of this, unbalanced tires also wear much quicker, reducing the lifespan of your tires overall.
Underinflated Tires – When your tires are underinflated, they spread out and flatten out more, creating a larger contact patch with the road. The more of the tire that contacts the road, the more tire noise will be created.
Tires That Need to be Rotated – Rough, loud rides are often caused by tires that need to be rotated. If your tires haven’t been rotated in a long time, they could be causing lots of excess vibration that makes your ride much noisier and less pleasant. This also ads more wear to the tire, reducing its overall life expectancy.
Off-Road and Performance Tires – Standard passenger and highway tires are made with a rubber compound intended to help keep the ride soft and quiet. Snow tires, off-road tires, and even performance tires are built with different goals in mind. Because of this, they are created with features that are excellent for their intended uses but don’t make for the quietest ride under normal driving conditions. Some of these features are deep and aggressive tread patterns, stiffer sidewalls, and a wider contact area.
Unevenly Worn Tires – If you haven’t had your tires rotated or balanced in a long while, then the tread may be wearing unevenly. Suspension or alignment issues can also cause this.
If the tread is worn unevenly, one tire may become noticeably louder than the others. This will also create unnecessary vibration, which also adds to the noise problem. All of this will put undue stress on your vehicle and shorten the lifespan of your tires.
Rubble Stuck in the Treads – It’s very common for little pieces of debris such as pebbles, sticks, etc., to get stuck in the tread of your tires. When your tire is rotating, this little piece continues to repeatedly hit the ground at a rapid pace, causing the tire to be much noisier than it should be.
How to Reduce Road Noise From Tires
1. Soundproof the Floor
Since your tires sit directly underneath the carriage, it makes sense that most of the noise you hear from them is coming up through the floor. As your car rolls down the pavement, creating some degree of noise is inevitable. That said, you can significantly reduce the amount of that noise that makes it inside your vehicle’s cabin by adding soundproofing material to the floor.
There are several products available for soundproofing your carriage floor. Products such as Dynamat and FatMat both offer great sound blocking characteristics specifically intended for reducing noise in a vehicle. You can increase their effectiveness even more by adding an additional layer of mass loaded vinyl (MLV).
Another soundproofing material that you may consider is automotive sound deadening spray. It is designed to serve the same function as the rolled soundproofing materials, but in an easier and faster to apply a package that makes it simple to get into all the nooks and crannies. If you’d like to learn more about the sound deadening spray, read my recent post about best sound deadening spray for cars.
To install your Dynamat or MLV or to apply sound deadening spray, you will need first to remove your car’s seats and carpet. The carpet is molded and will fit right back into place with no problems. If using Dynamat or MLV, you will need to cut each piece exactly to fit the area where you’re installing it.
Dynamat and other rolled soundproofing materials explicitly intended for vehicles will have an adhesive back that allows them to be applied to the metal surfaces of your car’s interior. The MLV will require an additional spray adhesive, which could be rolled on or sprayed on. The soundproofing spray is sprayed on and then must be given sufficient time to cure before replacing the carpet and seats.
For more information on automobile soundproofing materials please see our article Kilmat vs Noico vs Dynamat vs Hushmat.
2. Add Mass Around Wheel Wells
The open area surrounding your wheels is called the wheel wells. They are covered by a thin plastic insert that prevents dirt and debris from being kicked up into the vehicle’s body. However, it doesn’t do much to stop any noise from making it through.
To help reduce the amount of incoming noise leaking in through the wheel wells, we’re going to want to apply some sound-deadening material to the plastic inserts. There are two ways of doing this effectively. A layer or two on the outside of the plastic insert will help to stop some of that noise. For extra sound reduction, it’s advised that you remove the insert and cover the backside with soundproofing as well.
The Noico sound deadening mat is an excellent material choice for covering your wheel well inserts. It has an adhesive back that makes it easy to attach. You can also easily add a layer of Dynamat on top of the first layer to improve the sound blocking.
As an alternative to a rolled adhesive soundproofing material, you could try the soundproofing spray on the wheel well inserts as well. The soundproofing spray can easily be coated on multiple times for improved noise reduction, and it’s also very durable and should have no problems handling pebbles and debris shot up by the tires.
3. Replace Door Seals
Sound will travel through any gaps or entry points that it can find. Your doors are the largest entry points into your vehicle and are, therefore an excellent place for noise to leak in. Normally, your door seals block out the excess noise by creating a tight seal. But what happens when your weatherstripping is worn out?
Over time, your vehicle’s door seals lose their shape by being repeatedly crushed by the door. At some point, the seal is no longer large enough to do its job effectively, and you’ll start to get leaks in the door where sound and air can easily break into your car. Installing new rubber weather draft seals will return your vehicle to its former state of quietness.
First, open your door and inspect the weatherstripping all the way around. Look for any damage, such as cracks, crushed areas, rips, tears, etc. If you see signs of any excess wear, then you should probably replace them.
One way to do this is by simply adding a second, larger seal. Many luxury vehicles come standard with this kind of setup, so it’s a proven method.
Another way is to replace your current weatherstripping. You can remove it with a razor knife. The new weatherstripping will have an adhesive backing that allows you to install it where the old one was easily.
4. Fill Your Tires
We’ve already discussed how underinflated tires make more noise since they have a larger contact patch with the road. Keeping your tires fully inflated is one of the simplest ways of reducing the amount of tire noise your vehicle makes. To make things even better, keeping your tires properly inflated will also improve your gas mileage!
As a general rule, you should check the tire pressure of all four tires every month. This should be done when the tires are “cold” after being parked for a few hours or more.
If your tire pressure is low when you check, fill it up to the specified PSI. The proper pressure for your vehicle will be printed on the sticker on your door jamb, as well as in your owner’s manual, and on the tire itself.
5. Get Your Tires Rotated & Balanced
You should be having your tires rotated every 5,000-6,000 miles. For the average driver, this is about every 4-6 months.
Rotating your tires is the process of switching the tires around in a specific sequence so that they will wear evenly. The pattern changes depending on which type of drive your car is equipped with; front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive. The good news is that most tire shops will do this for free if you purchased your tires from them.
6. Soundproof Your Doors
Doors are a thin metal that do little to block the outside noise from entering into the cabin. To make matters worse, it’s a big, hollow echo chamber. Don’t worry, there’s an easy way to help fix this issue. Soundproofing your doors isn’t very difficult or expensive, but it can have a profound effect on the amount of road noise that you hear while driving.
There are two main methods for soundproofing your doors. The first option is to use a sound blocker like Dynamat and FatMat. The second option is to use soundproofing spray.
To begin, you will need to remove your door panels to get down to the bare metal beneath. If you’re using a rolled sound blocker such as DynaMat, you’ll need to cut it to shape and adhere it over the bare door metal. Make sure to make cutouts for window regulators, door handles, etc.
If using soundproofing spray, you will want to make sure the window is rolled up, so it doesn’t get sprayed. Use newspaper to cover everything in the immediate vicinity that you do not want to get overspray on. Apply the soundproofing liquid to the bare metal of the door, waiting for the designated amount of time between coats. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions.
7. Replace Your Tires With Quieter Ones
Some tires are made quieter than others. Some tires are built with noise-reducing technology for the quietest ride possible. On the other hand, some tires are not built with a quiet ride as a priority at all, and there’s not much you can do to change it.
If you have noisy tires but you want a quiet ride, the best bet may be to replace your current tires with some that are intended to deliver a quiet ride. This is not the most cost-effective method. However, it could be one of the most effective ways when it comes to reducing tire noise.
A new range of acoustic tires offers the quietest ride available. Technology such as ContiSilent from Continental can reduce interior vehicle noise by as much as 9db! Other brands offer their own, similar technologies, such as the Pirelli Noise Cancelling System (PNCS), and Michelin Tires Acoustic Technology. For a comparison of the quietest tires on the market, read my post about top quietest tires on the market.
8. Drive at Slower Speeds
When your car is moving faster, the tires make considerably more noise due to the larger quantity of air circulating the treads. If you are a chronic high-speed driver, then you may be experiencing louder than normal tire noise because of your driving habits. By reducing your speed, you may also reduce the amount of road noise your vehicle is creating.
9. Change Tires When Needed
As we’ve discussed, many things can cause your tires to begin wearing out and become noisy. While these things can cause a tire to wear out prematurely, even well-treated tires have a lifespan of around 6-10 years. Replacing the tires within this time frame will help to ensure that your car keeps a quiet and comfortable ride.
You should be checking your tires for wear and damage regularly. Look for cracks, dry rot, obvious damage such as missing chunks of tread, and anything that may be stuck in the tire such as a screw or nail. Having your tires balanced and rotated regularly, as well as keeping them fully inflated, can all help to increase your tire’s lifespan.
What to Look For in a Quiet Tire
If you’ve decided to look for new tires, you’ll want to know what features to look for that help a tire achieve a quiet ride. Below are a few things that you should keep in mind when looking for your next side of tires. For a complete breakdown, check out my quiet tires buying guide
Narrower Tires – The amount of tire that’s touching the ground is referred to as the contact patch. A larger contact patch equals more tire noise. The wider a tire is, the larger its contact patch. Avoid wide tires if you want a quiet ride.
Fewer Voids – Voids are the spaces between tread blocks. Voids of a smaller width and fewer voids overall are both things to look for that make a tire ride much quieter.
Semi-Closed Shoulder – Off-road and all-terrain tires often have open tread knobs on the shoulders for increased traction when cornering. However, this also creates increased road noise. For a quieter ride, look for tires with semi-closed treads on the shoulders.
Smaller, Varied Tread Blocks – Having tread blocks of varied sizes helps reduce tread noise. Avoid tires with uniform tread patterns where all the blocks are the same size. Larger tread blocks also create more noise, so look for smaller blocks of varied sizes.
Circumferential Channel – These are two small grooves that run the entire circumference of the tire enclosing the tread pattern. They don’t aid in traction. Their sole purpose is to help reduce tire noise.
There are many causes of noisy tires, and many solutions exist to help mitigate the issue. After reading this article, hopefully, you understand why you’re experiencing loud tire noise, and how you can fix the problem!
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