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.

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?

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.

decibel meter measuring 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.

road noise is affected by your tires and the driving surface

Wind Noise

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. The noise often comes through the tiniest gaps or holes in the car’s exterior. Or maybe you just have the window down. Let's say the window’s up though, and wind noises are still drown out the sound of your audio system… you have a wind noise problem.

 

Two Main Causes of Wind Noise

Your door seals are worn out — Think of the seals around your car doors as swimming goggles. If you go swimming with poorly-fitting goggles, you’re going to get a face full of ocean water. The same principle applies here. If your doors don’t have a tight seal to your vehicle’s frame, wind is going to rush right through.

Your windshield isn’t acoustic — A lot of cars aren’t manufactured with high-quality acoustic glass, which means you’ll likely experience quite a bit of wind noise. Acoustic windshields have a layer of vinyl between two glass panels, which makes them lightweight and effective at blocking air noise. Although most cars don’t come off the line with acoustic glass, take a look at yours — if you have acoustic glass, you’ll see the word “acoustic,” or the letter “A” in small lettering on one of the corners of the windshield. If you don’t have it, it’s an upgrade worth considering.

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.

Is Your Door Rattling?

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 Damplifier Pro to start. The inner door skin is more structurally sound, but a little coverage there too will help. You should add Luxury Liner Pro for best-in-class noise blocking or OverKill Pro if you just want some extra insulation.

Do You Have 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 decoupler is OverKill Pro, a high quality shock absorber made of rubber infused closed cell foam. Although it is not the end-all solution to road noise, a good decoupler installed between two hard surfaces can be a magically simple fix.

Do you Hear ROad Noise from Your Tires and 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 20 years.

Another area to take a look besides your car's floor is your wheel wells. Car manufacturers almost always skimp on soundproofing materials there. If you’re hearing a lot of noise from your tires, you’d be surprised at how big of an impact a liquid deadener can have in there. Apply a layer or two of Spectrum spray on 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:

Step 1: Deaden the metal. Damplifier Pro deadening mats should be applied to every metal panel on the car's interior below the windows. Then 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.

Step 2: Create a noise barrier. Luxury Liner Pro is a dense, 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 and on top of your trunk 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.

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.

Is Wind Noise Coming Through Your Doors?

If you’ve got wind noise (or water, yikes!) coming through the door, the issue is the 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.

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 Camry

 

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: ‚ÄčChevy Camaro, Jaguar F-Type, Subaru WRX

 

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, Honda Ridgeline

Final Thoughts

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, and we're always happy to help, so feel free to reach out to us. You can also browse through the rest of our products using this very conveniently located button.