There is a real trend in vehicle engineering towards making cars almost silent. Aside from those who believe that a roaring engine is the most beautiful sound in the world, car manufacturers are working tirelessly to create more and more silent vehicles, from quieter petrol and diesel engines to practically silent electric engines.
But for those that have purchased a car with no engine noise, there can still be some internal and external noise when driving – and that comes from the tires.
What Causes Tire Noise?
There are several reasons that tires can make noise when you are driving. Some noises are related to problems with the mechanics of the car or the wheel in particular, while others are to do with the construction of the tires.
If you want to find the quietest tires for your vehicle, whether it is electric, hybrid, or has an internal combustion engine, it is worth knowing about what typically causes tire noise.
Tires that are made with more stiff rubber will make more noise, especially when they are new because they present a more solid surface against the road, less likely to soften as they are used and provide some cushioning against the tarmac.
Wide tread patterns create gaps where air becomes trapped in between the rubber and the road, and as this is compressed over and over again with wheel movement, it makes noise. This is especially apparent with tires that are made for off-roading or for use in winter conditions.
Tire Cavity Resistance
Air between the tire wall and the wheel itself can vibrate as the wheel moves; this is more obvious in slightly underinflated tires and is recognizable from inside the vehicle as a humming sound.
Unusual tire noise can be an indication of a problem with your tires, wheels, or suspension, so if you notice a different sound when you drive you should get your car checked for damage or faults. Some of the other issues you might find causing noisy tires include:
- Loose bearings
- Worn tires
- Unequal wear on tires
- Underinflated tires
- Problems with the joints or struts connecting the chassis and wheels
- Rock, nail, or other foreign object stuck in the tire or tread
Technological Advances for Quieter Tires
Following the trend for quieter vehicles, tire manufacturers have been looking for ways to reduce the noise that tires make without compromising on performance.
Some of the most popular tire manufacturers, including Goodyear, have made it their mission to ensure a comfortable, quiet ride using some interesting and innovative ideas. These include:
Different Tread Patterns
Wider tread gaps offer more grip for better handling, which is why they are used in winter and offroad tires. However, the noise that these can cause is reduced by combining several different tread patterns into the tire – so each revolution of the wheel produces a ‘white noise’ effect where the sound is a constant, so it is less jarring and obvious.
The noise produced by the air in the cavity of the tire can be mitigated by removing at least some of it from the gap between the tire wall and the wheel.
This can be achieved by adding a high-performance foam to the inner lining of the tire; reducing noise without changing the performance and contact with the road. There have been some concerns about issues with repairability of these types of tires because this lining has to be removed and replaced which adds extra steps. However, with reduction of noise by 3-9dB, it can make a real difference to a silent ride.
Other Technological Advances
In some performance tires, harder rubber makes cars faster because they don’t have as much contact with the road, but for comfort and quiet a softer rubber construction is needed.
By combining multiple tread types with a softer, more malleable rubber tire, road noise and stiffness is greatly reduced.
Performance Can Be Quiet
For performance enthusiasts who want the benefits of silent vehicles but still want great handling, look for tires that are labelled as having ‘noise reduction technology;’ these are the ones that are making the most of the available technology to reduce noise while improving performance.
Photo by Sourav Mishra: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-car-rims-2811496/