Although it’s nearly impossible to soundproof your car completely, you can do a few things to reduce the noise significantly, with hardly any money.
If you work far away from your home, you probably know the struggle of traffic. So, the outside noises can become really overwhelming when you’re out there waiting for the line to clear out. Not to mention what it sounds like if you get stuck by a construction site.
What creates the noise in the car?
Sometimes, the noise comes from the car itself, its motor, cooling/heating system, and several other factors depending on the car. While Tesla is probably the quietest thanks to its electric motor, some trucks, and jeeps are the absolute opposites.
Other sounds come from the outside like the wind, road, your best quiet tires, other cars on the road, honking, construction, etc. You could turn on some music to try and eliminate the amount of outside noise, but soon that noise will compete with your tunes. You’ll quickly have to turn the volume up which all together creates lots of vibration that’s bad for you.
How does car soundproofing work?
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that there’s no way to cancel out the noise coming from outside completely. Read that again because a lot of people seem to think you can soundproof an entire car. There’s just too many ways for sound to enter the car! You’ll still be able to hear the road, wind and other noises, especially if you’re driving an older vehicle.
Still, there’s a way to drastically decrease the noise canceling it up to 50%. If you drive a new and better-insulated car, this will make it almost entirely noise-free. A really cool thing to do is measure decibel levels before you start the project and then after you’re done.
The point is in covering the vehicle with different soundproof materials to try and dampen the sound that’s coming in. There are several methods for soundproofing cars and other vehicles. Though some are easier to apply, it all depends on your car and the amount of noise you’re looking to cancel.
How to soundproof a car with materials
- Damping mats – these are made of rubber and are probably the easiest to use. You use them to cover car panels to reduce as much vibration as possible. In most cases, damping mats come with an adhesive.
- Insulation – this goes under your rugs, and it’s what absorbs the sound. It’s usually made of jute or micro jute. It makes the carpets even more comfortable and plushier.
- Foams – these are similar to damping mats. They come in sheets, so you place them over the panels.
- Sprays – it’s ideal for tight spaces, and it mostly comes in aerosol cans. Other types need a compressor or a paint gun.
- Check our list of soundproofing materials if you want to go down this route.
How effective is this?
Now, you’re probably wondering how effective is all this. Though it sounds pretty gimmicky, soundproofing your car actually does work and has excellent effects on reducing the noise coming from the outside.
Soundproofing is actually building barriers in the places you want to prevent sound from penetrating. The materials you choose are supposed to absorb, dampen, or reflect the sound.
However, it’s important you remember that soundproofing isn’t the same as sound absorbing. The two things are different and require the use of different materials.
Soundproofing is effective to a certain degree which mostly depends on the technique, materials, and your skill. It can also depend on the particular car you’re driving since some vehicles are louder and harder to soundproof.
6 ways to soundproof a car
One thing you do have to keep in mind is that no car can be 100% soundproof. Canceling all outside noise is nearly impossible and is something you shouldn’t do anyhow. Still, you can achieve impressive results with different methods allowing you to reduce the noise by 50%.
Soundproofing a car or any other vehicle doesn’t have to be hard. Some methods might be trickier than others, but it can all be done rather quickly. Continue reading to learn all the info about every popular method for soundproofing your car.
1. Floor mats
Most cars have some kind of floor mats that collect dirt and snow if it’s winter. However, these serve no purpose in terms of soundproofing. For this, you might need a soundproof floor mat.
These are usually made of insulation foam that features an adhesive to help it stick on one side. Because it’s made of dense foam, it does a good job at reducing the overall noise coming from the outside. The foam floor mats are easy to install, and the process is simple enough for you to do it yourself. However, keep in mind that they are a bit costly, but also quite effective.
You apply them to the bottom of the car’s already existing floor mats. It’s especially important for the front of the car since it’s where the noisy engine is. Still, make sure to apply the mats in the back seat just as well. This will help complete the circle especially if your car is on the loud side.
2. Mats with reflective insulation
Many people are happy with just simple soundproof mats, but if your car is a bit louder or if you live in a noisier city, those might not be enough for you. If you’re looking for more, you should try reflective insulation.
These are more effective than basic soundproof mats as they reduce the noise by 80%. They also do wonders in keeping your car warm which is especially useful if you live where the winter is harsh.
You don’t have to use soundproof mats if you’re using the reflective ones. Still, reflective mats work best in combination with the soundproof ones we mentioned above. You apply them directly under which allows the two mats to work hand in hand in reducing the noise in your car.
3. Secure the doors
Whatever you do, it will matter very little unless you also secure the doors. Car doors are similar to your house doors when it comes to their soundproof abilities. You can do all kinds of things to your walls, but the smallest gap in the door area will let the sound in.
The same goes for your car, so you’d need to pay special attention to soundproofing the doors. However, keep in mind that this takes a bit of effort and quite some time. The best is to use foam insulation similar to soundproof floor mats.
This process is a bit tricky because the doors also have windows. First, you have to remove the first layer with screws and everything that follows. Now you measure the door to make sure you get just enough materials needed for the project.
Only then you proceed to apply the material. Cover as much surface as you can but be careful not to add way too much weight to your doors since this can make driving much harder. The more material you apply, the less sound will be able to enter through that area.
4. Spray and foam
Soundproofing spray is one of the most convenient products out there. It’s designed to help you soundproof hard-to-reach areas that you can’t treat with foam panels or anything like that.
They are also great to apply after you’ve installed foam mats or reflective insulation. Once you’ve installed them, you can then go on and spray all the gaps and rough areas. These small areas are virtually impossible to cover with foam panels or reflective insulation.
These deadening materials usually come in aerosol cans, which is probably the most convenient way to use them. They often come in professional cans, too, in which case you’d need a compressor or a paint gun for easier application.
Make sure to clean and prepare the area before you apply any product. Once you’ve got that covered, just use the spray like you would paint, for example. Though these are ideal for some small areas, it’s not recommended you treat your entire car with them. They only work as great if you combine them with others, a bit more heavy-duty materials.
Foam sound deadeners absorb vibration and the echo improving the acoustics in your car. Much like sprays, it works best when combined with other materials within your project.
5. Replace rubber
If you’re often on a highway, you probably know the struggle of wind noise. Sometimes, the noise can be so loud it’s even impossible to hear the music from your stereo.
If you’re driving a relatively old car, it might be the time to replace its rubber seals. These seals are found around the doors and windows and have a great soundproofing effect when they’re new and in good condition. If they’re worn out and have even the smallest gap, it’s where the noise is entering.
Either seal the gaps or replace the rubber altogether. Installing new seals is relatively simple. All you have to do is apply the adhesive before you place the rubberized seal. Press the rubber in and make sure to let the glue dry before you close the door.
Replacing the rubber seals is a great way to cut down the wind noise. However, it has no effect on engine and road sounds.
Undercoating is insulating protection that dampens the noise and helps reduce the chances of corrosion and abrasion.
One of its many benefits is also the ability to protect from water, sand, salt, and different chemicals. It also does wonders in dampening engine and road noise. It usually comes in spray cans and is easy to apply. Just spray it on the surface you want to isolate and wait a while until it dries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I soundproof my car?
Soundproofing is optional, so it’s not something you have to do at all cost. If you’ve noticed additional noise when you’re driving, it might be a good idea to soundproof one way or another. Noise can come from so many parts of your car which also allows you to pick and choose between what you want to do.
Soundproofing is recommended when there’s access noise that could avert your attention. It’s especially convenient for new drivers since they can’t do as well with noise and driving.
Looking around your car for what could be causing the annoying sound averts your attention away from the road. It distracts you which is never good when you’re driving since your focus should always be on the road.
How can I soundproof my truck?
Soundproofing methods are quite similar for every car, with the difference being in size. If you want to reduce the amount of noise entering your truck, you can do any of the methods we’ve mentioned above. You’ll have more work to do as there’s more area to cover, but the effect remains the same.
Can I cancel out all the noise?
No method can help you to cancel out the noise completely. All vehicles are made of different materials, and there are lots and lots of different surfaces to cover. For this reason, it’s nearly impossible to treat it all in order to reduce the noise to such low levels.
Some methods are highly effective and will cancel out some sounds if they weren’t too loud in the first place. Also, it’s not recommended you do it anyway. You simply have to hear the road, tires, and the engine. It’s important to hear them so you can notice the unusual noise indicating something’s wrong.
Before you add any materials to the interior of your vehicle, take a look around to see what’s making the noise. Remove all the objects such as phones and keys since they often make the most annoying sound.
All the mobile parts will also make noise thanks to the engine vibrations. Parts like your cup holders will shake loudly every time you start the engine.
As we’ve mentioned, make sure to cover all the gaps when you’re soundproofing the vehicle. Adding mass won’t have much effect unless you fill the gaps left behind.
Take your time with this project. In most cases, it takes a bit of trial and error to find what works the best for you. Pick a method you like the best and then test how loud is your ride before you apply any additional techniques.