Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Frugal and Effective Sound Damping in Cars

I have a new ride, a 2014 Sportwagon. I love the car but absolutely hate the road noise.

I measured my old Dodge Journey interior noise at 78dB at 70mph, a reasonable level. I measured the SW at 89dB on this same road (yikes!). So I decided to start adding sound proofing/damping to my ride and wanted to share the results.

First, from behind the front seats to the tailgate is basically not damped so start by taking out the rear seat and seat belts (not hard, just requires a triple-square bit tool I purchased at Advance Auto Parts for about $13US). Next, yank out the carpet and side panels (save the clips) to expose the rear wheel wells.

I ordered two 4'x8' sheets of 1/4" high-quality closed-cell neoprene foam, similar to the stuff VW uses in the engine compartment and front fender wells. I covered as much of the interior as possible including the spare tire well by taping it in place with aluminum foil HVAC tape. This wasn't as hard as it sounds since the foam cuts easily with a standard carpet knife. I did not glue this down (contact adhesive is usually employed for this application) but the results were excellent with just the foil tape.

I made certain that the fender wells were covered as close to 100% as possible and the rest about 90-95%. The spare tire area was easy to cover 100% and the 1/4" foam added no issues to recovering the carpet or interior panels in exactly the same location.

Road noise now measures the same 78dB and I am a happy camper. The remaining noise appears to be coming from the door panels and the hood and once I upgrade the speakers I will address these issues.

I chose this particular foam since it is used to make wet suits for scuba divers and was very water repellant. I anticipated that one day water would find its way to the interior (windows left rolled down, etc.) and wanted to use something reasonably safe but yet highly effective. This material seemed to do both while still being a frugal choice.

I can now easily converse with the passenger at highway speeds without having to raise my voice to reach above the annoying road noise. It makes for a far more pleasant driving experience and the audio system will sound better since you can hear more dynamics in the music.

I am looking at a universal hood pad too but have yet to take the plunge.

One last suggestion is a spray-on/paint-on/roll-on product called Noxudol. You must be really careful with this one since any overspray could cause serious damage to your shiny exterior paint. Here is an impressive demo of its sound-damping effectiveness.

Anyway, I thought that this would help those of you who prefer a quieter ride without having to take out a second mortgage on your home. Enjoy!

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny

I do not use ads in this blog to help support my efforts. If you like what you are reading, please remember to reciprocate, My newest title is called Where, oh Where did the Star of Bethlehem Go? It’s an astronomer’s look at what this celestial object may have been, who the "Wise Men" were, and where they came from. Written in an investigative journalism style, it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

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