You can reduce road noise from tires by reducing speed, avoiding poor and rough roads and properly inflating tires. Road noise is also decreased by using new quieter tires, rotating tires and wheel alignment. You can also add sound insulation to the car cabin and wheel well. Tire noise is 50% of total road noise generated by a vehicle.
Taking this into account, what really causes tires to make noise? And how can we make our cabins more insulated from road noises? Let’s find out.
How to Reduce Noise from Tires?
The following techniques will help you to get rid of road noise from tires:
If you are willing to sacrifice time in order to reduce noise, you could choose to drive at lower speeds. This would significantly cutback on the road noise coming from the tires.
Avoid Rough and Poorly Maintained Roads
Drive on smooth roads for a quiet experience. Avoid concrete roads, especially older roads as they can be very noisy due to the cracks they develop. Choose smooth asphalt roads instead. Macadamized road surfaces create more noise than asphalt, but are much quieter than concrete.
Moreover, avoid poorly maintained roads as uneven road surfaces and potholes can generate noise.
Properly Inflate Your Tires
Maintain adequate pressure in your tires. If the air pressure is too low, the tire tends to sag, increasing its contact area. Having tires contact a larger road surface increases noise when driving.
Always ensure that the air pressure of your tire confirms the manufacturer’s recommendations. These recommended limits are typically listed in the vehicle owner’s manual. They can also be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb, or on the inside of the fuel filler door
Clean Tire Tread
Clean out the tread of your tires. Removing the foreign materials stuck in there can drastically reduce the noise your tires make on the road. To clean up the treads of your tire, you’ll need the following tools:
- Microfiber towel
- Soap or shampoo
- Tire cleaning spray
- Tire shine
As you now have the tools ready, let’s jump into the process:
Step 1: Rinse out the tire with water.
Step 2: Mix soap or shampoo with water.
Step 3: Scrub the tires with the mixture made in step 2.
Step 4: After thoroughly scrubbing the tires, wash off the soap using clean water.
Step 5: If grime is still present, spray some tire cleaner at the spot, and clean it off using a brush or a sponge.
Step 6(optional): Though this will not affect the noise being made by the tires, you may apply some tire shine. This step will improve the appearance of your tires and protect them from oxidation.
Noise can be a symptom of broken belt in tire as well so, don’t forget to check that too.
Avoid Old Tires
Older tires can be more noisy, as the rubber hardens over time. The reduced flexibility of the tire material can also generate noise on the road.
Also, if the tread gets worn out, that too could increase noise generation. As the rubber between the tire wire and the road gets thinner, it creates more noise.
Uneven tread wear can also cause more noise as the sound-deadening features in the tread get distorted.
Use Quieter Tires
Modern tires are designed to make less noise than older tire designs. In the last 10 years, the tire manufacturers have achieved about a 5-8dB reduction in the intensity of tire noise. Use tires that are optimized for noise reduction, such as Touring tires.
But how do you Identify tires that are optimized to reduce noise?
The followings are the common characteristics of a quiet tire:
- Symmetric Tread Patterns.
- Narrower Treads
- Low Width
- Fewer Voids
- Circumferential Channels
- Semi-Closed Treads on the Shoulders
When it’s about choosing less noisy tires, Goodyear WeatherReady tires can be a great option.
Rotate your tires when you detect uneven tire wear. Rotating them can reduce the unevenness. Uneven tires vibrate more when running and create additional noise. You can rotate your tires by following these steps:
- A Car Jack
- 4 Car Stands
- A Lug Wrench
- Pair of Work Gloves
- Firstly, park the car on a level ground and then engage the emergency brake.
- Wear thick work gloves to avoid injury.
- Do not completely unscrew the lug nuts in step 2
Now follow these 6 steps to rotate your tires:
Step 1: Determine your tire type(Directional or non directional)
Check the owner’s manual to determine whether your tires are directional or not.
But what are directional tires in the first place?
These are tires that have been designed for rotating only in one direction. They are generally optimized for driving in wet conditions and snow. Rotating them in the opposite direction will negatively impact their longevity and performance.
If the owner’s manual is not available, check the sidewall of your tires. If they have an arrow on the sidewall, then it is a directional tire. When mounting a directional tire, it is necessary to ensure that this arrow is pointing to the front of the vehicle. If the tire is mounted in the wrong direction, performance and fuel economy of the vehicle will suffer.
Step 2: Loosen the lug nuts
Take the lug wrench and insert it into the slots on the wheels where the lug nuts are screwed in. The lug nuts screw the wheel with the wheel hub.
Rotate the lug wrench counter clockwise, until the lug nuts loosen up. DO NOT unscrew them completely.
The nuts may be tightly screwed in and may need some initial effort to unscrew. Use a lug wrench with a longer handle, and apply force at the end of the wrench for better leverage.
Step 3:Lift up the vehicle
First of all, slide a jack underneath the jacking point situated near one of the front wheels of the car. The jacking point can be located with the help of the owner’s manual. If the manual is not available, look for a jacking point at the corner, near the rocker panel or frame rail.
After that, pump the handle of the jack. Keep pumping until the car is above the height of the car stands. While the vehicle is lifted up, place the car stand beneath the car.
Position the car stand underneath the jacking point, near the wheel which you raised. This car stand will hold the car up when you remove the car jack.
Once the stand is in the correct place, rotate the release valve of the car jack counterclockwise using the jack handle. This will lower the car gradually, until the car rests on the car stand.
Repeat this process 3 more times near other wheels until the 4 corners of the car are held up by 4 car stands.
Step 4: Rotate the tires
Completely unscrew the tires from the wheel hub and remove them. Do not stack them together as the existing position of the tires is important for rotation.
Remember the tire type you determined in step 1? You need that information now to figure out how you will be rotating your tires.
Directional tires: If your tires are directional and are of uniform size, you have to ensure that their directions do not change. Interchange the front tires with the rare tires of the SAME side. Do NOT change sides.
If the tires are directional but not of uniform size, do NOT rotate the tires.
Non Directional tires: If your tires are non directional and all are of uniform size, use this pattern of tire rotation:
If the manufacturer recommends different tire sizes for the front wheels and the back wheels, do not follow this pattern. When the recommended tires are of different sizes, use the side to side pattern instead:
Step 5: Insert the lug nuts
After the tires are rotated, secure them in place by screwing in the lug nuts. Tighten the nuts using the lug wrench, by rotating the nuts clockwise. The lug nuts should be screwed in so that they do not fall off when lowering the vehicle.
Step 6: Lower the vehicle
Raise the vehicle using the jack at the jacking point near each wheel and remove the car stand, placed near the wheel. Then gradually lower the car back down. Repeat this process for the other 3 jacking points as well, until all the car stands are removed.
Step 7: Tighten the lug nuts
After the car is back on the ground, insert the lug wrenches into the lug slots of the wheels again. Rotate the lug wrench in the clockwise direction, until the lug nuts are completely secured in place.
Car manufacturers recommend a particular torque range for tightening the lug nuts. Check the owner’s manual to determine what is the recommended torque range for your vehicle.
Correct Wheel Alignment
Wheels with poor alignment can cause tires to rub with the suspension and fender, making noise. Correct the alignment of your wheels if they’re misaligned. The following video will help you to identify if you need a wheel alignment:
Although it is possible to correct wheel alignment by yourself, it is a tedious process. Also, using an alignment machine is much better in correcting wheel alignment. Many car mechanic shops have their own alignment machines.
So, I recommend you do the wheel alignment from a reputable mechanic shop. However, if you want to do it yourself, the following video might come in handy:
Fix Your Suspension
Sagging suspension, which has lost elasticity, can rub with the tire, making noise. This would be accompanied with other symptoms, such as rolling when cornering, and very bumpy driving. In this case changing out your suspension will reduce the noise.
Replacing your suspension by yourself is possible, but requires a certain level of technical expertise. It is better to have a car mechanic swap out your suspension instead.
How to Reduce Tire Noise in the Cabin?
If it is not possible to reduce tire noise, noise can be reduced in the cabin instead by taking following measures:
Use noise dampening materials around wheel well
The wheel well is protected by a plastic covering. But the function of it is to protect the wheel well from dust only. Sound from the tires travels through the lightly covered well to your cabin, largely unimpeded.
Covering the wheel well with noise insulating material can reduce the sound you are hearing inside your car’s cabin. Some noise insulating materials are acoustic foam, mass loaded vinyl material or butyl based self-adhesive pads.
To add sound deadening material around the wheel well, follow this method:
Tools and materials:
- Sound insulating material: Acoustic foam, mass loaded vinyl material or butyl based self-adhesive pads.
- A Utility knife
- Dry burlap
- Measuring Tape
- Silicone sealing adhesive
- A Lug wrench
- Car stand
Now, follow the steps to replace the door seal:
Step 1: Lift up only the wheel on which you are going to work. You do not have to lift up the entire vehicle.
Step 2: Follow step 2 and step 4 as mentioned in the tire rotation process to remove the wheel.
Step 3: Clean the wheel well thoroughly using the dry burlap.
Step 4: Use a tape measure to measure the size of the wheel well.
Step 5: After that, cut the insulation material according to the obtained measurement using the utility knife
Step 6: If your insulation has self sealing adhesive, remove the plastic that covers the adhesive side and skip step 10.
Step 7: Apply a thin layer of silicone adhesive on the wheel well.
Step 8: Apply the cut insulating material onto the wheel well. For insulation with self sealing adhesive, use the side which has the adhesive coating.
Step 9: Roll the roller on the applied insulation to ensure that the insulation is firmly attached to the wheel well.
Step 10: Put back the wheel you removed in step 1 into the wheel hub.
Step 11: Follow step 5, step 6 and step 7 mentioned in the process for tire rotation.
You have now successfully attached sound insulation to the wheel well of your vehicle.
Change Your Door Seals
The weather seal of your car doors wear off over time. You may replace them with new seals to reduce noise even further. Check if the seals of your doors have developed cracks, as that would be a signal to change your seals.
Tools and materials:
- A Utility knife
- A Phillips screwdriver
- Dry burlap
- Measuring Tape
- Silicone sealing adhesive
- A sponge
- Replacement car door seal
- Plastic clips
Now, follow the steps to replace the door seal:
Step 1: Choose a seal that fits the make and model of your car. They come in different materials. Rubber seals are more durable, but foam seals are easier to install and provide better sound insulation.
Pick a seal that is made up of dense foam to reduce noise entering your cabin.
Step 2: Use the screwdriver to remove the internal panel of the door.
Step 3: Use the pliers to remove the plastic caps at the ends to the old door seal.
Step 4: Pull out the old door seal.
Step 5: Dip the sponge in thinner and rub off the glue residue from the old seal.
Step 6: Clean up the door frame using a piece of burlap.
Step 7: Check the time needed for the silicone adhesive to curate. This information can be found on the bottle.
Step 8: Apply the silicone adhesive thinly over the place where the new seal is to be placed.
Step 9: Put the new seal over the applied adhesive and hold down firmly. Keep the new seal like that for a while to curate properly. The time it may take should be mentioned in the adhesive packaging..
Step 10: Push the plastic clips through the rubber into the clip holes on the door frame.
You have now successfully replaced the seal of your car door.
Add Soundproofing Material to Side Doors
You could add soundproofing materials to your doors as well to reduce road noise in the cabin. To soundproof the doors of your car, stick to the following method:
Tools and materials:
- Self-adhesive sound insulation such as mass loaded vinyl or acoustic foam.
- Cutting tools such as scissors and blades
- A Roller
- Sand paper
- Cleaning tools
- Phillips screwdriver
- Rubbing alcohol
- Silicone adhesive
Step 1: Locate the screws on the car door that hold the inner door panel. Unscrew them using the screwdriver by rotating counter clockwise.
Step 2: Gently dislodge the inner door panel and remove it.
Step 3: Take multiple pictures on your phone of the wiring inside the panel. This picture will help to reconnect the wiring in step 13.
Step 4: Disconnect the wires of the door speakers, unscrew them and then remove the speakers.
Step 5: Locate the additional protection inside the panel. It is a layer of foam or fiber material attached to the frame by glue.
Step 6: To expose the bare metal door frame, gently pull on this layer and remove it intact.
Step 7: Clean up the door frame thoroughly using sand paper, a clean rag and rubbing alcohol.
Use the cleaning rag to clear out the loose debris. Then use the sandpaper to rub off dirt that is difficult to clean with the rag. Then use the cleaning rag, dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean off the door frame thoroughly. A clean door frame will help the insulation to stick better.
Step 8: Cut the insulating material into rectangular shaped pieces.
Step 9: Remove the protective layer covering the adhesive part of the insulations.
Step 10: Attach the insulating material to the door frame and press it using the roller.
Step 11: After the material is inserted, thinly apply silicone adhesive on the place where the secondary panel was attached.
Step 12: Put back the secondary layer you removed in step 6. Hold it firmly in place until the adhesive has curated. The time needed to curate can be found written on the bottle label.
Step 13: Screw back the door speakers and reconnect the wiring, by following the picture you’ve taken in step 3.
Step 14: Screw back the internal panel of the door.
You now have a door that is going to significantly cut down road noise coming into your cabin.
Soundproofing Material on The Floor
The floor of your car also allows sound into your cabin. Adding the sound insulation on the floor of your car can reduce the noise you are hearing on the road.
However, this process is cumbersome, as you have to remove the seats and upholstery first. Trying this by yourself could end up damaging your car, so consult a professional instead.
What Causes Loud Road Noise from Tires?
The following are the major reasons that cause road noise from tires:
Uneven Tire Wear
Tires with uneven wear can create more noise due to vibrations when rotating.
If you recently had your tires replaced, that may explain the loud road noise coming from your tires.
New tires have deeper treads than your older ones. When rotating, air enters these deeper treads in larger capacities, and then exits at high pressure, creating a lot of noise.
If you are using wider tires on your car, you will generate more noise when driving because of the larger contact area with the road
Some road surfaces like cracked or concrete roads produce more noise when driven on compared to smooth asphalt roads.
Tires with aggressive treads such as high performance tires make more noise. This is one of the reasons why cars in sports races appear to be so loud when driving on the race tracks. Furthermore, off-road tires produce more noise than Touring tires.
Low Air Pressure
If your tires are under inflated, they will sag and make more contact with the road surface, resulting in more noise.
The faster you drive, the more noise will be produced by your tires.
Your tires may become unbalanced over time. Unbalanced tires vibrate more when driving thus creating more road noise.
Rubble may get picked up from the road and get stuck inside your tire treads while driving. This foreign material impacts the road when traveling, generating noise.
How Much Do Tires Affect Road Noise?
Tires contribute to about 50% of the total road noise made by your vehicle when driving on the road. So, reducing the noise that is being generated by your tires can radically cut back on road noises.
Are summer tires noisier than winter tires?
No, summer tires are not noisier than winter tires as summer tires have shallower treads than winter tires. Less air gets sucked into these shallower treads, and then gets crushed under the tire, making less noise. The shallow treads can also get less debris stuck inside them, which impacts the ground, making less noise.
Why are cheap tires loud?
Cheap tires are loud as they are often made up of inferior rubber, which hardens quicker. Harder tires make more noise when driving. They may also have substandard design, which can make them louder. But the cost of a tire, alone, can not be used to judge its quality.
How can you tell if a tire has road noise?
You can tell if a tire has road noise by listening to the noise it makes when driving on the road. All tires produce road noise when driving. They are generally responsible for about 50% of the noise produced when driving.
Now you know how to reduce road noise from tires. Road noise can be very annoying for some people. The techniques mentioned here should be adequate in reducing road noise.
That is it for today. Hope you could reduce the road noise from your tires easily. All the best and goodbye!