Why Tires Make Noise: The Science Behind It All

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Why Tires Make Noise:

It is a known fact that all tires will make noise when on the road and the main reason tires make noise is vibrations.

Many customers ask why tires make noise or why their new tires sound different or louder to their previous tires.

Tires make noise for a number of reasons, but most of it has to do with the way they interact with the road. In this article, we will discuss why tires make noise and the varying factors that determine how much noise a tire will make. We’ll also take a look at some of the science behind it all!

What is tire noise

Tire noise is defined by the noise made by a tire as it rolls down the road. The noise is generated by vibrations caused by the tire deforming when hitting the road surface. These vibrations travel from the tire into the wheel, the vehicles suspension system and then through the cars chassis and into the cabin.

Many different factors will influence how much noise a specific tire makes. Knowing about these factors will help you understand why tires make noise and how to go about picking the quietest tires for your vehicle.

Size of tire

The size and width of a tire is one of the biggest reasons when it comes to why tires make noise. This is because a wider tire will have a larger contact patch with the road, which creates more friction and vibrations, resulting in a noisier tire.

Wider tires also tend to be stiffer as the largest vehicles on the road require large tires. The extra stiffness of these tires helps them to support the weight of the vehicle as well as amplify the noise they make.

The size of the tires sidewall can also have an impact on the overall noise it makes. A smaller sidewall will have less cushioning between the road and the tire, resulting in a harsher ride and more noise. Conversely, a larger sidewall will provide more cushioning and result in a quieter tire.

Type of tire

There are a number of different type of tires available and their performance and suitability varies depending on the conditions in which they are being used.

The main types of tires include Summer tires, Winter Tires and All-Season tires. The different rubber compounds that make these tires is a large factor behind why tires make noise and certain types of tires will make more noise than others.

Summer tires

Summer tires are designed to provide the best grip possible in warm weather conditions and the majority of high performance tires are designed as summer tires. These tires are made from a softer rubber compound which gives them their high levels of grip and performance.

The softer compound of summer tires makes these tires one of the best for absorbing bumps and vibrations, making summer tires the quietest type of tire to buy.

Winter tires

Winter tires are designed to provide grip and traction in cold weather conditions when the roads are covered in snow or ice. Winter tires have a higher tread depth than summer tires and are made from a harder rubber compound to help them withstand the colder temperatures.

The hard rubber compound makes winter tires less effective at absorbing vibrations and bumps, resulting in a louder tire.

All-season tires

All-Season tires are designed to provide a balance between grip and traction in both warm and cold weather conditions. All-Season tires have a moderate tread depth and are made from a rubber compound that is in between the summer and winter tires.

The rubber compound of All-Season tires make them effective at absorbing vibrations and bumps, resulting in a quieter tire than winter tires.

Heavy duty/Off Roading tires

Tires with large tread blocks or those designed for off-road use will typically be the loudest. This is because they have more surface area that comes into contact with the road. The larger the contact patch, the more noise the tire will make.

The large tread blocks of these tires hit to ground in a less efficient manner as they are designed to trade noise and comfort to instead offer the maximum amount of grip on harsh rocky surfaces. This increases the noise they make.

Run Flat Tires

Run Flat tires are a special feature on some tires designed to allow a vehicle to continue driving for up to 50 miles even if the tire has been punctured. Run Flat tires have a reinforced sidewall which helps to support the weight of the vehicle in the event of a puncture.

The reinforced sidewall also makes Run Flat tires stiffer than regular tires, resulting in a tire that is less effective at absorbing vibrations and bumps. As a result, run flat tires tend to be noisier.

Vehicle weight

The weight of the vehicle also plays a role in why tires make noise. Heavier vehicles will have larger and wider tires which can result in more noise. The extra weight of the vehicle will also put more force on the tires, resulting in more wear and tear.

Lighter vehicles tend to have smaller and narrower tires which will result in less tire noise.

Tread depth

The depth of tread on a tire plays a role in answering why tires make noise. The deeper the tread, the quieter the tire will be. This is because deeper treads act as a buffer between the road and the tire, which helps to reduce noise. This means that tires with shallow treads will generally be noisier.

Tread pattern

The amount of noise a tire makes is also affected by its tread pattern. Tires with a directional tread pattern will typically be quieter than those with an asymmetrical tread pattern. Directional tread patterns help to reduce noise by channeling air and water away from the tire.

Asymmetrical tread patterns do not channel air and water as effectively, meaning that tires with a more aggressive tread pattern will generally be noisier than those with a smoother tread pattern.

Direction tread patterns help to reduce noise made by a tire

Speed

The speed at which you are driving will also affect the amount of noise that a tire makes. The faster you are going, the more force is put on the tires and the more noise they will make.

If you are someone who is looking to use their vehicle on the highway frequently, finding tires with low tire noise should be a priority to make your journey more comfortable.

Type of road surface

The type of road surface you’re driving on is one of the biggest reasons tires make noise. Hard concrete roads will reflect the sound of the tires back up to the vehicle, resulting in a louder noise.

Softer asphalt roads will absorb some of the sound, resulting in a quieter tire. Smooth paved roads will always be quieter than rough gravel roads.

Tire condition

The condition of the tire is also a factor in why tires make noise. A tire that is excessively worn, bald or damaged will be noisier than a tire that is in good condition. Worn or damaged tires can have uneven tread, which can cause the tire to make more noise.

As tires age, the rubber compound will begin to harden and deteriorate. As a result, these older and harder tires generate more tire noise.

It is also important to make sure to maintain the correct air pressure in your tires. If they are under-inflated, they will roll along the road less efficiently and with a larger contact patch than originally designed.

Over-inflated tires will similarly only contact the road along the centre of the tire and not as intended, which will also decrease performance and make for a harsher and louder ride.

When to worry about tire noises

As mentioned in the previous point, incorrect tire pressures can lead to increased tire noise. If you notice that your tires are making more noise than usual, it is important to check the air pressure to ensure they are inflated correctly.

If not, the tires risk wearing unevenly and if left, this can cause your tires to run abnormally and produce loud thumping noises as you drive down the road.

Another time to be weary of tire noise is when you hear a continuous humming sound that speeds up the fast you drive. This can indicate that your tires are out of balance or that your wheel bearings need to be serviced.

If you are ever unsure about why your tires might be making a certain noise, it is always best to consult with a professional mechanic who can take a look and diagnose the problem.

To summarise

Tire noise is created by the tires interacting with the road surface. The tire will flex and deform as it rolls over the surface of the road. This deformation creates vibrations, which are then transmitted to the wheel and eventually to the car body.

These vibrations are what we hear as tire noise. The sound is created by the tires interacting with the road surface, and the amount of noise will depend on the factors we’ve discussed above.

We hope you found this article informative and that it has helped you to understand why tires make noise. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email or through social media and we will read and respond to every comment, email or question. Thanks for reading!

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