If you’re driving an older vehicle, odds are that it can be difficult to have a normal conversation while driving on gravelly roads or down the motorway. But did you know there’s a solution to that problem, and it doesn’t cost a fortune? It’s called soundproofing. Soundproofing your vehicle can let you enjoy your music or talk in a normal tone no matter what type of surface you’re driving on. It can be performed in a few different ways, like stopping the metal panels from rattling and vibrating or adding auto sound damping material in specific places to reduce the sound coming from the engine.
When trying to find the best solution online, you’ll come across a few different terms that describe the same process – soundproofing. Sound deadening, damping and dampening are the same thing. The terms are used interchangeably along with words like vibration, noise or sound. However, there may be subtle differences between each term. For that very reason, I’ll try to explain all of them so that you can have a better idea of what you’re actually doing to your car when you intend on soundproofing it. But before I get into the specifics, let’s talk about how these products work.
How Sound Dampening Products Work
Soundproofing materials feature a dense, flexible rubber, foam or other insulation material base layer that’s applied to the flat metal surfaces of your vehicle. This increases the mass of the metal surface, making it less prone to vibrating from outside factors. The vibration of the metal panels is transferred inside your vehicle, and that’s the main reason you hear what’s going on outside. Imagine listening to a speaker. If you covered the speaker with a paper, it won’t have much impact on the sound. But if you cover it with the floor mat from your car that’s made of heavy rubber, it will absorb a decent amount of sound, significantly reducing the amount of noise you hear. If you install such material on the inner and outer layer of your doors, you can reduce the sound inside by 5-7 dB, or slightly more. Adding the same material in your trunk, firewall, roof and fenders can also help.
Sound Deadening vs. Sound Dampening
Sound deadening insulation refers to deadening unwanted noise by placing soundproofing material around metal parts to reduce vibrations that translate into unwanted car noise. Every time you read about auto sound deadening, it’s referring to the method of preventing metal from rattling, which is usually when someone is talking about soundproofing a vehicle.
On the other hand, sound dampening is a term used to describe the lessening or reducing the sound wave’s amplitude. When many people think of dampening, they picture something getting moist or wet, which when you think about it, sound dampening materials have absorption properties as well, except they absorb noise instead of liquid.
Types of Soundproofing Materials
Rubber mat sound dampening materials are designed to soundproof your vehicle’s panels, like the floor, doors roof or floor. They’re bulky, which is why they’re best used for dampening the noise coming from the floor. These materials convert the vibration into heat, thus reducing resonance.
Foam Sheets or Spray
Foam can be applied either by spray or foam sheets. It’s the most lightweight solution, making it ideal for doors. If you’re applying sheet foam dampeners, simply lay them over the panel and they’ll absorb a decent amount of the vibration. If you prefer to apply it by spray, you’ll have to apply it similar to how you would apply paint.
Which Areas Should You Soundproof?
As briefly aforementioned, soundproof materials can be applied in various different places, such as the floor, roof, trunk, doors and firewall. Soundproofing the doors includes reducing the vibrations, mechanical rattles and wind. The floor, on the other hand, is soundproofed to reduce the noise from the road and drivetrain. The roof needs to be soundproofed against heat and wind. And the firewall is soundproofed in order to reduce road noise and engine noise.
Get Quieter Tyres
This is something else you can do to significantly reduce noise. Your car’s tyres are the only point of contact between the road and your car, so all the vibration that goes inside it goes through them first. Tyres that have a lot of mileage under them can cause squeaking noises. When considering new tyres, pay attention to the size. You want as high-profile, thick and wide tyres as your car can fit to maximise the amount of rubber between the rims and the road surface.
Consider Your Budget
Before you’ve decided you definitely want to soundproof your car, consider how much you actually want to spend. Based on your budget, you can decide which areas you should soundproof to get the best results. In some cars, for example, most of the noise comes from the engine, so you only need to apply soundproofing material on the floor and firewall, while in others, majority of the noise comes from rattling in the doors, in which case you’ll need to only soundproof the door panels.