Truth be told, soundproofing can never be absolute. It is something we can address and try to do but the outcome will not be a zero-noise space.
It is impossible, really. Your sound meter will register figures no matter how quiet your environment could be.
Don't forget wind noise and it is one you cannot control (unless you're an air bender like Aang, haha!)
Yet, you don't need to let the noise put a toll on you. If you're tired of it, ways to soundproof is what you need to read.
Soundproofing significantly reduces noise to a tolerable level.
The advantages of soundproofing is very subjective though. A person can perceive sound as noise but bearable to hear yet another may find it too irritating.
Same in driving, some find it good to feel the rolling on the road, hear some screeching and construction outside. But some don't. That's where soundproofing enters.
Often, cars are graded by buyers only according to its look and performance, not the noise rating inside. Sad to say, long time exposure to noise is not good.
Luckily, some cars are designed to be quiet. But unlucky for the majority, these cars are the luxury types.
Reality check, not all can afford a BMW, Audi, Lexus and the like. Prices are way above our league.
Congratulations to those who can afford but for those of you who cannot, here are some pointers on how to soundproof a car from road noise. Ask for professionals or do it at your own risk.
What is road noise?
Once in your younger years, it's a common but a hidden fact that you wished to grow up faster. You couldn't wait to be an adult and live independently.
News update, adulting means working your butt to pay your own bills.
Working is tiring. Whatever work it is- office or field- you’d want a quiet commute to your home.
But inevitably, there is road/traffic noise everywhere. One common example is the tire against the pavement noise.
Some more are constructions along the road, loud stereos may it be from the new stall or another car beside yours, bumper to bumper honking and wind noise.
Collectively, these are the road noise that can ruin your drive. If you cannot stand it anymore, then soundproofing your car is perfect for you.
Best material for soundproofing your car
First things first. Before you apply all the suggested techniques, make sure that the parts you are going to soundproof are clean and free from grease.
Whatever you paste will not stick if you forget to clean it first.
1. Soundproof your car's roof
Feels like driving a tin can? It's a simple rain but the drops instead of sounding like from a white noise machine, calming and relaxing become irritating?
Probably because your car roof is too thin. Soundproof it by adding thickness to your roof by applying some sound deadening sheets.
Dynamat is easy to use. Just remove the padded layer of the roof and put some of the sound-absorbing mats inside.
Afterward, place the original cover back. Simply adding thickness in the roof reduces a large amount of noise.
Usually, this is self-adhesive so ease of application is guaranteed.
Too skeptical about this step? You will be amazed that noise comes from other sides of your car but above.
2. Soundproof your car door
Like in houses, the biggest opening in a car is its four doors. Usually, car doors are thin and it becomes the passage for noise to enter the cabin.
Soundproofing them is one great option to block or at least soften road noise.
Before starting, you may want to brace yourself first because this isn't as easy as sticking self-adhesive sheets. First and foremost, be cautious in choosing the materials to use.
Installing additional layer of soundproofing material will add weight to the door and you'll have to mind of it being overweight. This can result in damage to your door's fastening system.
Spare this option some time and huge effort:
First, remove your car's door by removing the screws and the panel. Next is to put some acoustic foam such as Silles Anti-sound foam for doors to the areas that will not hinder a door's ultimate use.
It is important to make sure what you'll be using is lightweight but thick. In this case, sound-absorbing foam is recommended. This is the common qualities of soundproof foam specifically designed for doors have.
Besides from foam, acoustic mats like Dynamat are easy to use. It ensures sound protection but has adhesive on the other side. You'll need a roller to make sure it sticks well, flat and has no bubbles.
While you're at it, you may also check your car seal and inspect if it's still okay. In some cases, door seals become loose or worn out.
If Weatherstrips are possible then you are fortunate to have a small, repairable issue. Otherwise, try considering a new replacement.
Before reinstallation, kindly check other rubber seals as well like those in the window and trunk. The rubber supposes to keep out noises, if the mentioned needs replacement, do it while the door panel is isolated.
After reinstallation, test your door if you succeed in returning the door back. Try to open and close it a few times to make sure no damage happened during your removal.
3. Soundproof your car's floor
Closest to the road, your car floor must be improved if sound reduction from outside (road/traffic noise) is your ultimate goal.
Don't worry, soundproofing car floor is not too complicated even beginners can try it. At least an hour is all it takes for you to complete soundproofing your floor.
Remove the existing mats of your car. Although this protects the car from dirt, it does little to insulation.
Add sound absorbing mat like Dynamat or FatMat Sound Deadening Foam.
First, degrease your floor so that the sticking of the floor mat is easy. This type of mat has usually an adhesive side and is water-resistant.
They are thermal resistant too so worry not that you'll feet feel too much warmth.
These features are very important because floor encounters almost all possible type of mess from our shoes and car floor are close to engines.
The stick of floor mats can be further enhanced by using roller. It'll stick flat and seem unnoticeable once covered by the original mat. If more sound reduction is targeted, floor mats can be layered with reflective insulators.
Reflective insulators are primarily used for thermal protection but soundproofing capability is also its feature.It is best used in conjunction with soundproof mats. When used simultaneously, noise reduction is drastically achieved.
For the economical reason that you cannot buy sound-absorbing mats, fluffy rugs and carpet from your house can do the trick.The reduction isn't as drastic as the mats, but a fair dampening is expected.
4. Soundproof your trunk
Most of the time, the trunks or rear sides of cars are often not accused as one of the noise producers. Unknowingly, they are and soundproofing them is a great addition to list.
Just like your floor, the trunk is easy to soundproof if you choose to. The wheel well of your trunk is already sound covered but the addition of butyl foils are better to reduce rattling behind.Low-frequency noise is often from heard from the rear of the car.
The first method is sound damping. The easier to use are those that have adhesive on the other side. It lessens the vibration from the sounds that entered and convert it to heat energy.
As such, the sound-absorbing material should be flexible and thermal resistant. A good material is Premium 2.2 of CTK.The sheet is a peel and stick type so installing it is as easy as placing stickers on your notebook.
Empty your trunk and remove the existing carpet so that you'll paste your material to the metal sheet. Measure the dimensions- top, bottom, sides- and cut your chosen sheet.
Be mindful of the pins and other screws so it will not be hard putting back your original covering.
Sound dampening sheets are then secured by aluminum tape and holes with a caulking gun. Cover back with the car's original mat.
The soundproofing procedure will not only reduce sound but improve the sound quality of sound systems inside the car.
5. Soundproof your engine
You thought engines are meant to be noisy? You are probably right. The good news here is that you can now lessen the noise it generates without compromising its efficacy.
A good thing to remember though is that diesel engines are noisier type compared to gas types. It is because of its mechanics but gas engines also become noisy due to old age.
Since we are talking about engines, we might as well be dealing with a soundproofing material that is considerably thick, heat resistant and durable against tears.
You can try and use Quiet Barrier™ Specialty Composite. It is a super-effective mat with triple sound protection.The foam mat receives the noise that is usually high in frequency, blocks it and "throws" back to the source.
The penetrated sound is absorbed by the acoustic foam and further blocked by the mat's barrier layer. Thus, its noise reduction is highly praised even for industrial use.
While its thermal resistance and durability are regarded, Quiet Barrier™ Specialty Composite is easy to install in your hood.
It is a peel and stick mat that it can be used by anyone. Just measure the area it will be placed, fit it then you are good to go.
6. Soundproof your tires
If we scale the composition of road noise, more than half of which is due to tire noise. It affects you, other car drivers and pedestrians. Soundproof your car from road noise by securing quiet tires from your car.
Good for you if you have extra bucks to buy the quieter tires in the market. Simply drop by, purchase a new set of tires and pimp your ride.But if not, try soundproofing on your own. By this time, you have soundproof foams, right?See your wheel well if you can thicken it with sound-absorbing foam without removing your tires. Else, give it some time and remove all four.
You should also understand that depending on the type of car, noise generated follows the rule that bigger tires, more noise.
The larger area in contact with the pavement, the noisier it will be. So basically, trucks and SUVs are noisier compared to sedans.
Smooth roads have less noise from tires too. But you cannot choose the road, so just soundproof tires or buy the quiet ones intended for all seasons.
Soundproof other parts and Spray sound deadener
The most neglected parts that should be soundproofed as well are the accessories in your car. The exhaust and the cup holder.
A cup holder can amplify your noise. Giving it some attention is not a joke. It will certainly reduce a few decibels but it's worth it.
Car mufflers can be soundproofed too. Don't be intimidated by the high temperature it gives off. If there's a leak, just use a high-temperature resistant epoxy.
Either way, you can, of course, buy a new, silent one or DIY soundproof it.
For hard to reach areas, spray sound deadeners will save the day. Spray some sound deadener on your wheel wells or trunk sides.
It is uncomplicated to use because commonly it is available in aerosol cans. Furthermore, it is easier to use on tight spots rather than insist on your sound-deadening mats in the "too narrow areas".
One easy way to provide a barrier between your car and the road is to apply undercoating. Not only does it helps lessen sound from under but also extends your car life by protecting corrosion.
But just a piece of friendly, unsolicited advice, reapply undercoating every 3-5 years because it protects your car from rust NOT remove it if it's already there.
A quiet ride is a simple treat for you and your passengers. If you cannot afford the luxury cars that are manufactured to be quiet, might as well try soundproofing on your own.
It doesn't cost a lot anyway if rest during ride is what you're after.
You may not do it all at once, but tell you now- soundproofing is quite addicting.
Once you've started and amaze yourself with the reduction happened, you will end up soundproofing other parts possible as well.
After all, it will not hurt. Just a small dent in your pocket.Happy driving!
Jessica is a Acoustical Engineer, currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. After graduating from her degree in Master of Engineering degree in Acoustics from Solent University in 2014, Jessica worked for a few companies before She will be blogging about her past and current experiences in the studio and sharing her journey as she pursues her career goals. She enjoy the balance of work inside and out of the office, solving practical problems on a daily basis as every project is different and requires a different solution, the variety of work (sound insulation testing, background noise survey, mechanical plant commissioning, external plant assessment, plant room breakout assessments) and the mix of independent and team work.