Most drivers enjoy a quiet and smooth experience, but not all of us have newer-model vehicles that offer a completely silent ride. Fortunately, there’s a solution to the dilemma of wanting less noise in the vehicle cabin, and that’s car soundproofing.
There are plenty of noise reduction methods to enhance your car’s ambiance while also improving other aspects of the driving experience. Here’s more on the subject, including what materials to use and tips for tackling a DIY installation.
Why Consumers Need Noise Reduction in their Vehicles
Less noise is always a good thing, but when it comes to vehicles, there are some unique challenges. Consumers tend to need noise reduction in their cars because of all the ambient noise as well as mechanical sounds that seep into the cabin. Here are a few reasons why consumers need to soundproof their vehicles.
1). To Eliminate Distracting Noises
From the clunk in the trunk to vibration noise from the road, many distracting noises occur while we’re driving. But to drive safely and comfortably, you need to focus on what’s happening in the car, not those weird noises that you’re hearing.
Therefore, using sound-deadening material inside the vehicle can help eliminate those noises. You can restore your focus on what’s happening on the road rather than all around and on top of it. After all, distracted driving is a hazard today more than ever, and cutting the noise can help pare down distractions.
2). To Enhance In-Car Audio
Whether it’s blasting the radio or answering phone calls hands-free, in-car audio is a crucial part of many drivers’ experiences. Connectivity is key in today’s modern world, but if you can’t hear your music clearly or your phone calls have tons of interference, you won’t be able to enjoy the media you want.
Reducing excess noise inside the vehicle can help set you up for a better audio experience all around, even if you’re not replacing or upgrading your speakers in the process.
3). To Make Driving More Enjoyable
There is something classy about riding in a vehicle without a ton of cabin noise. It feels less like an economy class seat on an airplane and more like first class. Having a nice interior in your vehicle helps promote positive thoughts while driving, and reducing noise is one way to achieve a better ambiance.
Instead of listening for obnoxious sounds or listening to every creak and whistle, you can focus on other aspects of your drive and relax. Plus, many vehicles have a noise level averaging between 85-90 decibels, which can cause long-term damage to your hearing. Clearly, a quieter car is a safer car overall.
Benefits of Car Soundproofing
There are many reasons why people decide to soundproof their vehicles, but there are more benefits than just having peace and quiet.
1) Enhances Vehicle Insulation
When you apply sound deadening materials to the interior of your car, you’re also adding another barrier between you and the outside world. Whether you intend to or not, you’re adding insulation to the vehicle which can help maintain temperatures and decrease the odds of moisture seeping in.
For older vehicles, sound deadening materials add a layer of comfort and performance that can make your car feel new again. You might even notice you don’t need to crank the heat or AC up as high because you’re not losing the heated or cooled air to the outdoors.
2) Increases Stereo Performance
Even if you don’t change out your vehicle speakers, using soundproof materials underneath the carpet can help the sound come through crisper than ever. In terms of cutting out background noise, this gives your car stereo room to shine.
But it’s more than just reducing background noise; enhancing the insulation in your car can also enhance the acoustics. With a thicker barrier insulating the car, you might notice the stereo somehow sounds better (now that you can hear it) because it’s functioning the way the manufacturer intended—which is without interference.
3) Increases Speaker Clarity for Calls
Many of us use our hands-free devices for voice calls while driving, and many sources suggest that it’s safer than juggling your smartphone. But it’s always frustrating to hear that the person on the other end of the line can’t hear you. From the sound of wind whipping along the car to the echo that reverberates around us, it can be frustrating to talk on the phone while driving.
But with sound dampening materials, you can expect to be able to not only hear the person on the other line better but also transmit your voice more clearly. Of course, the level of clarity you can achieve will also depend on your device and connection, but noise canceling materials can make a huge difference in the overall voice experience.
Materials for Noise Reduction
There are many noise reducing materials available, so what type you choose depends on your budget, experience level, and other factors. We like to recommend Second Skin, because they have a material for every type of automotive insulation project, and free shipping to boot. Here are a few common materials you can use to reduce noise in your car.
1. Jute or Micro Jute Insulation
These panels might appear a lot like carpet, but they have the added benefit of enhancing sound absorption. Plus, the interior of your car will feel plusher once you finish reinstalling everything. Generally, pieces of insulation need to be cut to fit your vehicle perfectly, and it’s a lot like installing carpet.
Second Skin Heat Wave Pro
- Thermal acoustic jute sandwiched between reinforced foil
- Eco-friendly and treated for fire, mold, and mildew resistance
- High r-value insulation with a reflective heat shield
2. Damping Mats
Damping mats are specific panels for sound deadening, and they often come in select sizes to fit certain vehicles. You may still have some trimming to do, but these panels can also come with adhesive backing on them already.
The materials of damping mats can keep your vehicle warmer in some cases, but they will absorb sound as well.
Second Skin Damplifier Pro
- Butyl rubber compound with no asphalt or cheap fillers
- Temperature rated to 450 F
- Guaranteed adhesion to metal surfaces
3. Foam Insulation
Spray foam is the messier option, but foam insulation is also available in trimmable sheets. Applying foam can be tricky as you want to ensure an even coat, but the sheets are simple to lay down once you cut them to fit.
Second Skin Mega Zorbe
- Hydrophobic melamine foam sheets with an optional peel & stick backing
- Lightweight, flexible, water resistant, and class A fire rated
- Absorbs mid-to-high frequency sound
4. Noise Barriers
Mass loaded vinyl is another material used in the automotive aftermarket due to its unique ability to block out road noise, diesel noise, and exhaust noise. To get the best results, MLV should be used in combination with a sound deadener by applying the barrier layer on top of the deadened surface to block out any remaining road noise. MLV is the only solution for a loud diesel engine or exhaust.
Second Skin Luxury Liner Pro
- 25 lb per square foot mass loaded vinyl fused to closed cell foam
- Dense and flexible to block noise and fit curved vehicle interior
- High r-value to reduce thermal transfer
5. Other Sprays
Sprays are a lightweight sound dampening solution but also one that can be tricky for DIYers. The key is to evenly apply a coat of the material, which often requires a compressor or paint gun. Aerosol cans are another option, but you might find that you need multiple cans to do the job properly.
Second Skin Spectrum
- Water based acrylic polymer
- 1 gallon and 5 gallon containers
- Apply with a spray gun and compressor
How to Soundproof a Car
For step-by-step instructions, you’ll want to consult the directions for the product you purchase for the job. But here are a few tips on how to effectively soundproof a car.
1) Use Multiple Sound Dampening Methods
Using more than one material enhances the noise canceling feature of the insulation, giving you better odds of achieving a quiet ride. However, keep in mind the overall weight of the materials you’re using and how that could affect the vehicle’s performance overall.
2) Study Up for DIY or Consult a Professional
Some application methods can be tricky (like aerosol cans and other sprays), so you’ll want to study up well in advance. In some cases, it might be easier (and even more cost-effective) to hire someone rather than attempt the job yourself. But that all depends on what type of soundproof material you use and how you apply it.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to remove all the interior carpet and possibly the headliner, depending on what type of kit or materials you’ve chosen. This can turn into a big job, especially if it’s an older vehicle that might require cleaning or other repairs while you’re tearing things out.
3) Plan for Other Repairs Concurrently
If you’re tearing out your vehicle’s interior anyway, it’s a good idea to plan for other improvements at the same time. If you want to change your speakers, for example, or drill holes for wiring, now is the time to do so!
On that same note, replacing your interior carpet and headliner may also be a good idea, as it might be difficult or impossible to replace the components you removed.
4) Not Just Interiors: Other Areas to Cover
You might think that applying soundproof materials to your interior, under the carpet, is all you need to do. But for optimal noise canceling, consider applying sound deadening materials to other areas of your vehicle, such as:
- Door panels
- Engine compartment nooks and crannies
- Areas around speakers and other items (use foam spray)
- Trunk/cargo area
Soundproofing other areas of the car can help prevent engine or other noise from even reaching the cabin, enhancing the acoustics overall.
Car soundproofing and noise reduction materials are a helpful enhancement for most vehicles. Not only do they help eliminate noise and distractions for drivers, but soundproofing materials can also increase insulation and help with energy saving while you drive.
But the biggest benefit is, of course, being able to hear your speakers clearly, which makes every drive more enjoyable than ever before. Not only does the hard work pay off in the form of clearer sound, but you might even notice more effective heating and cooling too, something we can all appreciate.