Why Are My Tires Loud?

April 6th, 2017

The never-ending drone of tires on pavement is more than just irritating. It can actually be dangerously hypnotic, lulling a driver into drowsiness. But why are some tires so noisy to start with?Noisy Tires in Boulder, CO

There are a few factors at play here.

Tire designers go to great lengths to suppress road noise, and it’s difficult to do. There’s a lot of friction between the rubber surface and the road, with several hundred pounds of vehicle sitting on those tires. In addition, the air chamber in a tire tends to resonate like a drum and actually amplifies road noise. Tire engineers use computer models to help “tune” tires to keep these noises down. It’s kind of a dirty little secret that the cheaper the tire, the noisier it’s likely to be. Inferior materials and less care in the design process are at fault in these cases.

It’s also a fact that as tires wear, they become noisier. The thick layers of rubber, on top of the fabric plies and steel belts, act as a cushion that provides a forgiving ride and also soaks up noise from the pavement. As that layer wears away, the road noise is going to be more prominent, and the tires will also ride poorly and handle poorly.

Certain pavement types will also create more noise through the tires. Things like expansion strips, rain grooves, and other irregularities can be enough to set up harmonics that will be audible through the entire car, and blacktop or rough concrete will be noisier than smooth cement surfaces.

Finally, some tire designs are naturally, inherently going to be noisier. Truck tires such as all-terrain or chunky mud tires will create more noise on pavement, and there’s not a whole lot that can be done for that.

One thing to be aware of, though – a sudden change in the noise from a tire can be a bad sign. Thumping or whining from a tire can be an indicator of imminent tire failure, from belt problems or tread separation. Worried about your tires, or just sick of the noise? Make an appointment with us at Boulder Tire

  Posted in: Tires 101