Have you ever been driving down the highway and felt like your door must be partially open because of how much wind noise you hear? If so, you’re not alone. Experiencing this problem myself led me to thoroughly researching how to reduce wind noise in a car.
Wind noise is one of the most common complaints when it comes to excessive noise inside a car’s cabin. If it feels like your vehicle has been steadily allowing more and more wind noise to creep in over the years, you may actually be right. But, what is actually making the noise grow louder? Before we discuss the solutions, let’s first cover the causes of wind noise in your vehicle.
For more information on quieting some other car noises, please see 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?
What Causes Wind Noise in Cars?
All vehicles are going to have some degree of audible wind noise. When you’re hurtling along at 65 MPH, you’re going to be experiencing some serious wind resistance, so there’s no way to completely avoid the problem. However, by understanding the root causes of wind noise making it into the cabin, we can take preventative measures.
There are three main components of vehicle wind noise. Air pressure, aerodynamics, and your car’s seals.
As your vehicle propels down the road, it’s pushing the air and creating changes in pressure. The air moving rapidly outside your vehicle now has lower pressure than the air inside your car’s cabin. The higher pressure air in your car then tries to find a way to escape to the lower pressure area outside. This is what creates the sound of wind around your door openings as you drive down the freeway.
Vents inside of your vehicle allow this air to escape to maintain proper pressure in the cabin. These vents are pointed away from passengers and situated so as to make the least noise possible while allowing the air to escape.
Since they are designed to be quieter, these vents are the only place you want the air to escape. Should that air find another way out of your vehicle, it will be much noisier. This is the common cause of most of the wind noise you’re probably experiencing right now.
Naturally, some vehicle designs are going to cut through the air with less resistance than others. This is referred to as aerodynamics.
A vehicle with better aerodynamics such as a sports car will inherently create less wind noise. On the other hand, larger or boxier designs like trucks and SUVs will create much more wind noise because they are creating greater disturbances in the air pressure as they move.
You know the air in your cabin is trying to get out and it’s supposed to go through specially designed discharge vents. However, the air doesn’t know what path it’s supposed to take. It will simply take the path of least resistance. Since the doors and windows are the largest holes in a vehicle, it’s safe to assume that they’re going to be a major culprit for air escaping.
Doors are surrounded by weatherstripping to create an effective seal against the air escaping. That seal is always getting smashed and flattened though, and eventually, it can be too crushed to be effective. Beyond this, they can also be subject to any other kind of damage such as dry rot, rips, and tears.
Any damage on your doors seals can render them ineffective. The same applies to the seals around your windows.
When you roll your window up, it gets sealed in by weatherstripping that surrounds the glass at the top. If that weatherstripping gets sun-damaged, cracked, or broken, the result will be the same. Air from inside your vehicle will use that space to escape, creating loads of excess wind noise that you probably don’t want to hear.
How to Reduce Wind Noise in a Car
1. Locate the Cause
Before you can actually solve the wind noise in your vehicle, we must determine where it’s coming from. As we’ve established, the air leaving your cabin is going to look for the path of least resistance, which could be pretty much anywhere.
The first test is to simply drive down the road and listen. Keep the cabin quiet so you can hear well. Try to pinpoint which part of your vehicle the offending noise is coming from.
Next, get some passengers in your car, ideally several. Drive with the cabin quiet so each passenger can listen around their area of the vehicle for anywhere the noise is more concentrated. Make sure they listen around doors, windows, sunroof, all the corners of the cabin, etc. Be thorough!
Make note of anywhere noise is discovered so you can do a deeper inspection of the area.
2. Repair or Replace Door Weatherstripping
Since the weatherstripping seals your doors and windows against the air escaping, they are some of the most likely causes of air leaks that create wind noise. If you have determined from step one the location of any noise, then you can start there when inspecting the weatherstripping.
Open each door and window and inspect the seals all the way around. Look for any type of damage at all such as being crushed, ripped, torn, or no longer attached. Be sure to also check around the trunk and sunroof as well.
When you find damage, it’s time to do a bit of minor repair. If the weatherstripping is just unattached, you can use some weatherstripping adhesive to re-attach it. Very simple.
If you find that areas of your weatherstripping are crushed and may be too flat to seal properly, then you have two options. First, try rubbing some lithium grease into them to get them to expand back to their full size. If that fails, you can replace them with some car weatherstripping.
3. Check the Car Doors
So, we’ve checked the weatherstripping and everything seems to be ok. But, what about the doors themselves? Sometimes damage in the door can either stop it from closing all the way or create space where air can make its way into the vehicle.
Begin by looking for signs of obvious damage such as major dents. If you have such damage, you may need to take your vehicle to a professional for repair if it’s beyond the scope of what you can repair yourself.
After checking for major damage, open and close each door. Make sure that it latches shut completely with no obstructions. If your door does have an issue latching all the way shut, you may need to inspect the latch on the door.
If there is anything obvious that’s in the way, you may be able to use some cleaner or a metal file and fix it yourself. If it’s more than just a minor issue, you may need the help of a professional.
4. Repair Exterior Damage
Damage on your vehicle’s exterior is always a weak point where the wind could find a way in. Inspect the entire outside of your vehicle for any possible damage that may allow such leaks.
Search for holes in the body. These could be caused by an accident, or maybe from a missing emblem. Any holes in the exterior of your car could definitely be causing excess wind noise.
Next, look for any signs of rust or corrosion. These spots may be less obvious leaks, though they can definitely be a culprit so make sure you don’t miss them.
Finally, be sure to check all of the glass in your car. Cracks in the windows or either windshield can also increase the amount of wind noise you hear. Cracks and chips can easily be repaired by a professional for relatively little expense. If the damage is more than just a chip or crack, you may need to replace that piece of glass.
5. Install Sound Deadening Mats
No matter what type of noise your car is experiencing, sound deadening mats can help to mitigate the issue. These are thick mats that absorb sound and vibration helping to drastically reduce noise transmission in any vehicle.
Sound deadening mats can be applied to the floor, doors, and even around the trunk of your vehicle to help reduce vibration and excess noise in your entire car.
To install them, you’ll need to get down to bare metal so you can adhere them to it. For doors, this means removing the door panels. On the floor, this means pulling up the carpet. In the trunk, you’ll have to pull out all of the panels and inserts to do it properly.
While this is certainly a time consuming and labor-intensive task, it’s also a very effective method at curbing all sorts of excess noise in your vehicle.
For more detailed information on sound deadening products please see our article Kilmat vs Noico vs Dynamat vs Hushmat.
6. Use Wind Deflectors
Installing wind deflectors on your vehicle is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to drastically reduce the wind noise you’re experiencing right now. It’s a plastic piece that covers the top of your window and prevents the wind from hitting the area where your window meets the weatherstripping.
Wind deflectors are vehicle specific, so make sure to get the right ones to fit your specific vehicle. They are made for almost every modern car, so you should have no problem getting the right ones.
They install very easily, and can be done by anybody in just a few minutes.
First, peel off the adhesive backing. Then, you insert the lip into the top of the window frame from the outside. Push the lip up into the frame and exert enough pressure for the adhesive to stick. That’s it!
You can find these online or at many automotive repair shops.
7. Clear the Door Drain Holes
The doors on your vehicle feature little weep holes that allow water to drain. When your car gets wet, say at a carwash or in a rainstorm, the water makes its way into your doors by squeezing down through the weatherstripping at the bottom of your window.
Dirt and debris can cause these holes to fill up which then stops the water from draining. But when they are clogged they create another problem. Without the proper air circulation they allow, the air will search for a different way out of the vehicle, which will most likely be much noisier.
This is a very simple and quick fix. Just open your doors and locate the little holes on the bottom or side of your door. Using something small and hard such as a paper clip, simply empty the hole so that airflow can resume.
8. Acoustic Caulk Around the Permanently Sealed Windows
Some windows on your vehicle may not operate. These windows are sealed from the factory to keep out wind and noise. However, the sealing on them can wear with age and begin to lose its effectiveness.
Start by inspecting the window for any obvious damage to the sealant. Cracks, chips, missing chunks are all signs that it’s losing effectiveness.
The best option to use for this is an acoustic caulk. Simply run a bead around the edges of the non-operating windows and allow it to dry. Be sure to use a clear caulk so that it won’t be visible.
9. Use Sound Deadening Spray Undercoating
The undercarriage of your car is a place where a lot of noise makes it back into the cabin. All the noise of your vehicle is reflected back up by the road. One effective way to minimize this noise is by applying a sound deadening spray undercoating to your undercarriage.
Sound deadening spray is a soundproofing spray that can be easily applied in several coats to help reduce noise transmission. It absorbs sound and dampens vibrations as well as provides a protective coating to prevent against chips, cracks, and other damage.
There are several types of sound deadening spray on the market. While all of them are effective to some degree, the best ones are very effective, protective, and easy to apply. If you’d like to learn more, check out my article about the sound deadening sprays for cars.
10. Install Acoustic Windshield
Since the front of your vehicle is constantly being pushed through a wall of wind and air, it makes sense that the windshield, which takes the brunt of that air pressure, is a major offender when it comes to wind noise in the car. Swapping your current windshield for an acoustic one can do wonders for quieting the cabin.
Acoustic windshields provide other benefits besides just a quieter, more comfortable ride. For instance, they also block out more UV rays, as well as prevent the interior of your vehicle from experiencing sun fading. If you’d like to learn more, check out my article about acoustic car windshields.
With so many ways to curb the excess noise created by wind, you have plenty of options to try. Start by locating the source of the noise, then you can attempt to solve it.
If you found this article helpful, please be sure to share it across social media so others can get benefits from this information as well. For any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments box below so I can respond!