Eliminating Road Noise in Your Car

Not in My Car: Eliminate Road Noise and Wind Noise

Not in My Car: Eliminate Road Noise and Wind Noise

If you want to reduce the road noise in your car, you’re not alone. Most drivers experience road noise of some kind, whether it be in an old hot rod or brand new compact car. Since no two cars are constructed or driven the same way, no solution is perfect for every road noise problem.

Over the next few minutes, we'll teach you to recognize and solve the road noise problem in your vehicle.

If you want to reduce the road noise in your car, you’re not alone. Most drivers experience road noise of some kind, whether it be in an old hot rod or brand new compact car. Since no two cars are constructed or driven the same way, no solution is perfect for every road noise problem.

Over the next few minutes, we'll teach you to recognize and solve the road noise problem in your vehicle.

Type of Noise

Car Noise Sources

Cars with Road Noise

Once you’ve got a hold on that, it’s just a matter of installing the right solution for you. Don't worry - we'll get you there.

Once you’ve got a hold on that, it’s just a matter of installing the right solution for you. Don't worry - we'll get you there.

Free USA shipping
Free USA shipping

Popular Road Noise Soundproofing Materials

Vehicle Soundproofing Kits (Best for Road Noise)
Luxury Liner Pro™ Automotive Noise Barrier
Spectrum™ Spray or Brush on Deadener

"We skinned the entire vehicle floor, walls, door, and roof with Second Skin Damplifier Pro and Luxury Liner Pro. I am blown away by how quiet and dead the sheet metal is."

- Chad Utt, Operations Manager at West Coast Customs

"We take these cool little pads, underneath the carpet, underneath the headliner, anywhere it's not seen... put them in and it quiets them down like a new car... Second Skin Audio is my choice because it works."

- Mark Worman, Mopar Guru

What is Road Noise? What Causes It?

Road noise can really put a damper on the day-to-day experience of driving your car, especially if it means you can’t even hold a conversation without raising your voice. If you’ve ever come to a stop at a traffic light and realized you had your music up much louder than you realized, it’s probably because you’ve got a lot of road noise or wind noise. Road noise and wind noise are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to interfering with comfort and sound quality in vehicles — so what exactly are they and where do they come from?

decibel meter measuring road noise

Road Noise

Road noise is the noise generated by your vehicle’s tires moving on the surface of the road. As the tire rolls across the road, any bumps or imperfections cause the metal and plastic paneling in your car to rattle and shake. You hear the vibration energy of those rattles and shakes as noise. If you've ever driven down a dirt or gravel road or maybe a highway that is badly in need of repaving, you've experienced road noise.

Two Main Causes of Road Noise

Tire quality/tread — What kind of tires does your car have? How old are they? Do you regularly have them rotated or has it been a while? The type of tires that you have and the overall alignment of your car are two big variables to consider when soundproofing your car from road noise.

Road conditions — Do you live in a rural area with a lot of unpaved roads? Or maybe in a cold climate with potholes? Or maybe you live in a state that’s a little behind on getting new pavement down on the interstates? I can see you nodding from here; you get it. Although you can always replace your tires, you can’t always decide what roads you drive on.

luxury liner pro stops automotive road noise
luxury liner pro stops automotive road noise

Wind Noise In Car

Wind noise is the whooshing sound you hear in your car when driving on the highway. It’s the high-pitched squeal of high-pressure air trying to escape your vehicle as you accelerate. Wind noise comes through the tiniest gaps or holes in the car’s exterior. The two causes for this are that your door seals are worn out, or that your windshield isn't acoustic, both of these mean your door and wind assembly are struggling to handle the air pressure on them very well.


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Reducing Road Noise in Your Car

Like every automotive soundproofing job, soundproofing your car for road noise should be approached from a few different angles. Isolate your biggest concern and go from there. The most common opportunities are going to be sound deadening car doors and and soundproofing the floor of the car. Overall, here are the options for learning how to reduce road noise in a car:

  • Treat the car doors with sound deadening
  • Add sound deadening and sound blocking material to your floor
  • Treat the wheel wells with our liquid sound deadener
  • Replace your tires
  • Replace or install weatherstripping around your windows and doors

Road Noise Caused By a Rattling Door

This may seem like an issue only for restoration projects, but it’s common in newer cars, too. The problem is almost always something structurally incorrect about the door. We’ve got a checklist for you.

  • Tap the bottom of the rattling door panel with a tool. If you hear rattling, you probably have a loose nut or bolt in there. Take off the plastic door panel and remove it.
  • Confirm that your doors aren’t misaligned. If the hinged surfaces aren’t flush, you need to adjust your door hinges. Use your owner's manual or get a body shop to help.
  • The window itself may be vibrating (tap it gently). This is usually because the weather-stripping has worn out. You’ll need to repair or replace it.
  • The door often needs additional sound and heat insulation material. It’s normal for manufacturers to skimp on automotive insulation to save money. Your door is one of the least structurally sound parts of your vehicle, and adding soundproofing materials will make it much more solid.

We recommend:

Deaden the outer door skin with 60%+ coverage of Damplifier Pro to start. The inner door skin is more structurally sound, so you only need 40% coverage. As a second layer, add Luxury Liner Pro for best-in-class noise blocking or OverKill Pro if you just want some extra insulation or cushioning for your plastic panels.

Do You Have Rattling Plastic Panels?

Speaking of rattling plastic panels... the sound of rattling plastic can come from any of the paneling in your car. You’ll need to do some detective work to identify it. Two common ones are the bolts holding the door panel to the metal frame and the cupholders. Yes, I said cupholders! We have one installer who swears he cuts off 3 decibels on average by squeezing OverKill Pro into gaps under the cupholders.

We recommend:

Our most popular decoupling materials are OverKill Pro (3/8" thick) and OverKill (1/8" thick). Both are high quality shock absorber made of rubber infused closed cell foam. Although closed cell foam is not the end-all solution to road noise, a good decoupler installed between two hard surfaces can be a magically simple fix if it's obvious the plastic is rattling.

Do you Hear ROad Noise from Your Floor Board?

All tires create noise. The amount you hear depends on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as how much that type of background noise tends to bother you. To get rid of road noise, the best solution is to deaden the metal to reduce vibrational noise and then lay down a sound barrier material to block the remaining airborne sound waves. That's what we specialize in, and we've been doing it for over 20 years.

We recommend:

Step 1: Deaden the metal with Damplifier Pro. Apply deadening mats to every metal panel on the car's interior below the windows. Optionally, you can apply Spectrum liquid deadener (our high heat, water based viscoelastic polymer) instead or to the hard-to-reach places.

Step 2: Create a noise barrier with Luxury Liner Pro. Our dense, 2-in-1 mass loaded vinyl that will block the tire and road noise from getting into the car’s cabin. It's basically like adding an extra wall in your car. The biggest bang for your buck will be from covering the floor, starting at the cabin side of the firewall, hitting the tops of the wheel wells along the way, and finishing right on top of your trunk sound deadener.

How to reduce road noise from tires

Car manufacturers almost always skimp on soundproofing materials there. If you’re hearing a lot of noise from your tires, like a lot of Ford Bronco tire noise, you’d be surprised at how big of an impact a liquid deadener can have in the wheel wells. Apply 3 layers of Spectrum liquid sound deadener to the inside of your wheel well to reduce vibrations and kill road noise. Follow that up with a mass loaded vinyl barrier over the top inside the car’s cabin.

We recommend:

Apply Spectrum liquid deadener (our high heat, water based viscoelastic polymer) to the hard-to-reach places like your wheel wells and as an undercoat sound deadener.

Are You Considering Replacing Your Tires?

At a certain point, all tires must be replaced. If the road noise is bothering you and you have all-terrain tires, it may be time to consider something else. Replacing tires is somewhere you need to do your research before buying, because they're expensive and results are not guaranteed. You won't really know until you get the new tire on there and drive around on it.

We have customers who've had massive success with this, but others who've noticed no difference.

We recommend: If you can make it, wait until you wear out your current tires before trying for a tire replacement. Use the age-old penny trick to know when it's time.

Take a penny and place it into the tread of your tire with Abe's head upside down. If his entire head is sticking out of the tread, it's time to replace your tires. In the testing we've seen, a softer tire tends to be quieter. There are even some tires that advertise sound reduction that would be a good bet.

Need to learn how to reduce wind noise in car?

If you’ve got wind noise (or water, yikes!) coming through the door, the issue is the air pressure and door seal. The door seals are the weatherstrips that attach to the outside perimeter of the car door to ensure an airtight seal with the body of your vehicle. You need to examine the various seals around the door panel and window to check for exterior body damage or gaps.  

We recommend: Carefully examine all the seals and weather stripping around your doors and windows. If you find a gap, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to remedy.

Final Tips for how to reduce road and Cabin noise

    1. Add sound deadening materials to wheel wells, car floor, etc.
    2. Add a sound blocking layer in your cabin
    3. Seal any gaps in your sound blocking layer to get 100% coverage
    4. Decouple any rattling panels

Follow these steps and you are good to go! If you have any questions about any of these steps above, then reach out to our car soundproofing experts here at Second Skin Audio and we will help you out!

Second Skin Case Study: Reducing Road Noise

"We never talked while driving. Now if you want to hear the diesel you roll down the windows."

- John M

Cars With the Most Road Noise

People call us all the time with a noise issue they’re trying to solve. After a while, you start to pick up on patterns with certain types of vehicles. Here’s some of the most common issues we hear about:

Compact Cars / Cars at a Lower Price Point

If you drive a compact car or a base model of a vehicle, that lower price point almost always comes with less insulation. As a result, you’re likely to experience quite a bit of road noise, and perhaps wind noise as well. If you’ve ever been in a VW Beetle (RIP) driving on the freeway, you know what I mean. Manufacturers tend to cut car sound proofing as a cost-saving measure and as a way of making cars lighter. If you own a smaller car and can’t stand the wind noise or road noise, sound deadening is worth investing in.

Second Skin Customer Installs: Dodge Neon, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla Noise Reduction


Luxury Cars / Performance Cars

Many luxury vehicles come equipped with excellent acoustic glass and standard soundproofing, but others do not. We see it most often in sports cars that avoid heavier materials as a way of maximizing speed. If the noise is out of control, sound deadening the road noise can be well worth the investment.

Second Skin Customer Installs: Chevy Camaro, Jaguar F-Type, Subaru Impreza Noise Reduction


Trucks / SUVs

For many trucks (especially base models), wind noise is a huge problem. Vehicles built into larger, boxier structures are naturally less aerodynamic and thus create more drag and more wind noise. The large tires and bigger frame pose another challenge from a road noise standpoint. Road noise reduction is possible, but you need to get the right sound deadening materials.

Second Skin Customer Installs: GMC Sierra, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner Noise Reduction


Semi Trucks / SPrinter Vans

You want to talk about boxier structures? Ever seen that truck sleeper cab on the back of a semi? These are some of the loudest vehicles on the market, because soundproofing is about 100th on the list of things the manufacturers care about. Semi trucks have gotten better with some of the newest models, but the noise level can still be draining over extended miles. For commercial van soundproofing and RV soundproofing, don't even get us started. Some models come with absolutely no sound mitigation included and soundproofing is almost required.

Second Skin Customer Installs: Dodge Pro Master, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van, Volvo Semi Truck, Western Star Semi Truck


Meet the Antidote to Road Noise in Your Car

The Vehicle Build Kit. By combining two complementary materials, we can attack both types of road noise. Damplifier Pro damps vibrational energy to kill structural noise caused by driving. Luxury Liner Pro rejects airborne sound waves, keeping them from ever entering your vehicle's cabin.

Together these two materials create a fearsome one-two punch that sends unwanted noise running for the hills.

  • Material #1: Damplifier Pro goes on the doors, floor, and trunk's metal. That's where the bulk of your road noise is coming from. If you want to keep going, the next priorities are the firewall, hood, and roof.
  • Material #2: Luxury Liner Pro goes on top of the Damplifier Pro. Install it on the cabin side firewall, floor, and trunk (or back wall if it's a truck). You can put it in the doors too, but focus on those other areas first!

Let's Get Rid of that Road Noise

Welcome to the bottom of the article. We're glad you were able to make it. Hopefully you learned a lot about road noise, wind noise, and some of the strategies you can use to solve those problems in your car. No two soundproofing jobs are exactly the same, even the same make can be different, for example a Subaru Outback sound deadening project is different than a Subaru Forester sound deadening project, and we're always happy to help! Feel free to reach out to us. It's a nice break in our day to help fix a car with road noise!

Have questions about your project?

Call us at 1.800.679.8511