It has happened to all of us — we’re driving along the road, and the wind outside has somehow made its way into our cabin, causing irritating howls and squeaks. It’s a widespread problem among the drivers — but there is a way to tackle it.
In this article, I will cover seven different methods of reducing wind noise in cars. In addition, I’ll go over all of the typical causes of wind noise, from faulty door seals to the difference in air pressure. With the info below, you will be able to dampen any excessive window noise, no matter what type of car you might own.
Main Causes of Wind Noise in a Car
Aerodynamics, air pressure, and seals are the main factors that influence wind noise. All cars experience some level of wind noise and these details may increase or decrease the problem.
Vehicle Size and Design
Air resistance is always an important detail to consider when designing a vehicle. Of course, it’ll also depend on the type of vehicle you’re driving, as well as its purpose. For instance, tractors and other types of agricultural machinery are not particularly aerodynamic, but they don’t need to be. You won’t be using a tractor to race somebody (though there are people out there who do it; it’s intriguing, to say the least).
When it comes to cars, the general rule of thumb is: the smaller the vehicle, the less wind resistance. And, by extension, there will be overall less noise coming from the windy weather outside.
Of course, the shape of the chassis plays a vital role in how aerodynamic your car can be. And once again, it has a lot to do with the car’s overall purpose. For example, hatchbacks are generally more aerodynamic than minivans. It should also surprise no one that both sports cars and sedans are, by far, the most aerodynamic vehicles, i.e., vehicles that ‘suffer’ the minimum amount of wind noise.
Worn Out Seals
All car doors have weatherstripping in the form of door seals. Usually, they are made from EPDM rubber, a TPE mix of rubber and plastic, and a TPO polymer/filler blend. This particular combination of materials makes these seals perfect for preventing any air, water, or dust from entering your car.
Like all other plastic or rubber elements of the vehicle, door seals tend to wear out after several years. After all, you will be opening and shutting the car door at least a few times a day, slamming it against the weatherstripping. Soon enough, the seals will either be too flat to be effective, ripped, torn, or show signs of dry rot.
So, what does all of that have to do with wind noise? Well, the flowing air from outside will find its way into the snug space between the car door and the seal. And because of how narrow that space is, you will hear a whistling, high-pitched noise.
Interestingly, even the inside air can cause some irritating sounds that come from your car doors. Normally, the air inside of your cabin would go through special vents and find its way outside. But with worn-out door seals, it will simply pass through the snug space, creating a high-pitched sound.
Doors are not the only segment of your car with weatherstripping, though. Your windows also have airtight seals that can get worn out over time. So, if the air isn’t coming in through the doors, it’s safe to say that the windows are taking the brunt of the wind.
As I stated earlier, each car has air vents that allow the air to escape the vehicle. As you drive, the car is pushing the outside air forward; that air will have lower pressure than the one inside of your cabin. So, in order to maintain that pressure balance, you need those vents to get some ventilation going.
Each vent is set up to point away from the passengers. In addition, it’s installed at an angle where it would produce the least amount of noise while the car is on the road. So, they ought to be the only opening within your car that allows air to flow out. Any other opening will cause excessive noise (for instance, opening a window or a sunroof).
When upgrading a vehicle, it might be a good idea to invest in a windshield made from acoustic glass. Thicker and more intricate than regular glass, this material is perfect for noise reduction. It’s no wonder that so many homes today have windows made from it.
An acoustic glass windshield will have two panels of glass, with an additional vinyl panel between them. This combination will greatly reduce any and all noise coming from the wind or the air outside. In addition, the material is so light that it’s incredibly easy to install, as well as remove. Shock absorption is also far more effective with acoustic glass windshields than with regular ones; they will still suffer damage from an ongoing object, but they are far less prone to shattering.
Unfortunately, lots of cars out there opt to use non-acoustic windshields. Because of their makeup, these windshields simply do not perform as well as those made from acoustic glass. They will have a difficult time blocking out the air noise when you drive your car at high speeds.
Bad Weather Conditions
Out of all the causes listed, this is probably the only one that’s almost entirely out of your control. When you’re driving in extremely bad weather, you will be exposed to the inevitable noise outside. Snowstorms, blizzards, and rainstorms all come with extremely strong winds. Once your car is in the middle of these weather phenomena, no amount of acoustic glass or weatherstripping will help.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be driving in extreme weather. However, if you have no other choice, you should still try to weatherproof your car as much as possible. It might not drown out all of the wind noise from outside, but it will definitely mitigate it to at least some degree. Personally, I think that doing at least something is always better than doing nothing.
How to Locate the Cause of Wind Noise
Before moving on to wind noise reduction, you need to figure out where the noise is coming from. As stated earlier, wind can go through worn-out seals on both doors and windows. However, an average car has lots of potential ‘holes’ for air to come through. These include wheels, sunroofs, cabin corners, hoods, trunks, and rearview mirrors.
In general, there are two techniques for checking wind resistance. The first of the two will require you to drive the car around for a bit. So, your first step would be to start driving your vehicle at a normal speed. Pay extra close attention to every sound it makes; in addition, make sure that no other noise pops up, e.g., from the radio or even your own voice.
The second step will involve other people, no matter what conclusions you reached in the first step. If you can, take roughly 3 or 4 of your friends for a drive. While in the car, they can listen to the noises and determine which side of the car makes the most wind noise. They might even catch something that you yourself might have missed. Here are a few areas to pay special attention to:
- The seals around doors and windows
- Weather stripping on the doors and windows
- Deformities or damage to the doors
- Exterior damage to the car body
During both drives, make sure to take notes of everything. Even the slightest noise from the windshield could be an indicator of a far larger problem with your car. Once you have a rough general idea of the potential damage, you can start working on the necessary noise reduction.
The Air Compressor Method
If you don’t have the time to drive around and listen to wind noises from your car, there is a relatively new solution to this conundrum. Inspect your car’s door seals and try to spot a suspicious area. You will need to contact a friend for the next step. They can either sit in the car’s cabin or do the work while you’re in the cabin yourself.
The person outside of the cabin will need to take an air compressor and slowly shoot some air alongside the weatherstripping, including the suspicious areas. If the person inside of the cabin hears a massive change in the airflow, you’ll know which spot is letting the wind through.
Ways to Reduce Wind Noise in a Car
1. Replace Worn Car Door Seals
As stated earlier, faulty weatherstripping is one of the most common reasons for wind noise. So, if the weird sounds are coming from the car doors, the seals are what you should be focusing on.
First, open the door and inspect the weatherstripping thoroughly. More often than not, you will see flattened, crushed areas of the seal. And while that can definitely be the source of the noise, it’s far from being the only one. Make sure that you’ve checked the seal for any cuts, tears, or rips. Sometimes, a part of the seal might just be dangling unattached.
When you spot a crushed seal section, you can do one of two things. The first thing is to apply some lithium grease on the crushed area. This substance ought to expand the seal back to its original size. However, if that doesn’t work, your second option would be to simply buy a new adhesive door seal and replace the old one.
Regarding unattached weatherstripping, the repair process is relatively simple. Just take a weatherstripping adhesive and apply it to the area where the seal came loose. However, if you see lots of physical damage, it might be a good idea to replace the seal altogether.
The last one comes in a two-ounce squeeze bottle and provides a tough bond for the rubber and car door frame. It’s also inexpensive and suitable for other applications, such as reattaching the car model logo on the side of the car.
The following video shows how to install a rubber seal using automotive adhesive. Use the same steps for reseating your existing seal into the frame.
Of course, don’t let your weatherstripping inspection end there. Make sure to also check the seals in your trunk and the sunroof, even if you didn’t hear any noise from them. You might just locate further damage and tend to it before it starts causing any noise.
2. Check the Car Doors for Deformities
With the door seals out of the way, you’ll want to check the car doors themselves. First, start looking for dents. A dented car door has a lot of potential to let outside air in. That’s especially true if the dent is anywhere near the door handle.
Next, check for any damage to the latch; if the door won’t close properly, check for any obstruction that might be jamming the latch. In addition, make sure that the closing mechanism isn’t stuck, bent, or broken.
Finally, if the car door has a lot of dirt and grime on it, give it a thorough cleaning. You can remove a minor build-up of metal and other hard materials yourself with a metal file and some cleaner.
Some of these car door issues are easy enough and you can fix them yourself at any point. However, if the damage is more serious than that (e.g., if the latch broke or if the dent is too big), you will definitely need to consult a mechanic.
3. Reseal Cracks and Holes
Any damage, major or minor, can allow the wind to pass through and cause lots of noise. So, after you’re done inspecting the doors, focus on doing the same with the rest of your car.
First, look for any holes in the car’s exterior. Even a single hole will be enough to let the air inside and cause a lot of din during a drive. Then focus on any areas with rust on them. Corrosion usually doesn’t contribute much to wind noise, but a rusted area might flake, leaving an opening for the air to flow through.
Finally, focus on everything made out of glass. Inspect the windshield and all of the windows thoroughly for visible damage. Any crack and chip can contribute to wind noise, even if it’s barely visible to the naked eye.
Exterior damages will vary in severity. For instance, if you spot a few small holes on the surface, you can easily plug them up. However, DIY repairs of windshield glass and rust aren’t easy. So, when you spot any major damage, take your car to a professional.
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4. Soundproof the Car
Sometimes, you need to get proactive when it comes to soundproofing cars. I’ve touched upon the topic in some of my earlier articles, focusing on car doors, speakers, and exhausts. With that in mind, I won’t go into this topic in too much detail and we can go over the basic steps you can take to soundproof your vehicle.
Getting a sound-deadening mat for your car is always the right way to go. Most of these mats are thick and durable, perfect for absorbing sound and giving you peace of mind during long drives.
In order to apply a sound-deadening mat, you will need to adhere it to the bare metal sections of your car:
- In order to apply them to the doors, remove the door panels first
- Trunk-proofing will require pulling out all of the inserts and panels
- To soundproof the car floor, you must pull up the carpet.
One disadvantage of sound-deadening mats is the fact that it takes a while to install them. However, it will definitely be worth the effort. After all, this is a product that you can literally apply almost anywhere inside of your car, from the doors and the trunk to the floor.
Sound-deadening sprays are incredibly useful tools when you want to soundproof your car’s undercarriage. Though it occurs less frequently than with faulty door seals, undercarriage wind noise does happen. Moreover, it usually comes combined with rattling and vibrating noises for an especially irritating experience.
By using one of these sprays, you can greatly reduce all of the noise coming from the undercarriage. Moreover, the products also act as protective coating against cracks, chips, and scrapes.
Some window sealants will show signs of wear and tear with age, making them the perfect spots for outside air to flow into. So, if you spot any cracks, chips, or signs of wear, you’ll need to apply some window sealant. If possible, make sure that the sealant you’re using is transparent so that it’s not visible after it dries.
5. Install Wind Deflectors
A typical wind deflector will cover the top of your car window, protecting the area where that window and the weatherstripping meet. You can purchase these deflectors for a reasonable price, but make sure that they match your specific car model.
Generally speaking, wind deflectors are an incredibly useful tool that’s quite easy to install. All you have to do is remove the adhesive backing, insert the lip into the top of the window frame, and push the lip up with enough force for the adhesive to stick. Almost all modern cars will benefit from having wind deflectors, since they make the vehicle more aerodynamic and, by extension, faster than before.
6. Clear the Door Drain Holes
Each car door contains drain holes that get rid of excess water. These holes are useful if you’ve just finished washing the car, or if you got caught in a rainstorm while driving. However, in time these holes will become cluttered with dirt and debris. Once they’re filled up, they provide poor air circulation that’s also needed for the water to drain; if the air doesn’t find its way through them, it will stay trapped and make a lot of noise.
Luckily, handling this problem isn’t that difficult. All you have to do is locate the drain holes and clean them. Usually, they are at the bottom of the car door. When you find them, take a paper clip or anything with a similar width and puncture them; that should allow the airflow to continue without further obstructions.
7. Install an Acoustic Windshield
As I stated earlier, acoustic windshields have far more benefits than regular ones. So, if you have the time and money, invest in one of these windshields and replace your current one. There are quite a few decent acoustic windshield manufacturers, some of which also cover backlites, sunroofs, and windows.
Of course, an acoustic windshield does far more than dampen wind noise. For instance, it will provide decent UV protection in scorching heat. In addition, your car’s interior will no longer face sun fading thanks to the material the acoustic windshield is made of.
Cars With the Lowest Levels of Wind Noise
Obviously, some cars will have better noise reduction than others simply based on their design, size, and shape. Sedans and racing cars are usually your best pick if you’re looking for a quiet car since they are elongated, sleek, and have the best top speeds.
A few classic models like Audi A8 and Toyota Prius are well-known for their aerodynamic properties. However, you can also find a few newcomers that match their wind noise reduction efficiency, such as Lexus GS and Tesla Model S. Among the last year’s models, you will probably want to look into Audi Allroad, Buick Enclave, Lincoln Navigator, and Honda Ridgeline.
This list is by no means extensive, as there are plenty of other cars that have equally low NVH levels out there.
Final Thoughts on Dealing With Wind Noise
Dealing with wind noise isn’t always difficult. You just need to learn how to locate wind noise in the car:
- The most common cause of unwanted noise in the cabin is a worn seal. Either the rubber seal around a car door window or the weather strip around the outside edge of the car door may need replacing or reseating.
- If the rubber seal is loose, but not damaged, use automotive adhesive or caulk to reseat it. If the seal is worn, replace it. Replacing a worn seal is inexpensive, quick, and easy.
- It’s also possible for exterior damage to cause noise. Holes in the car body or cracks in the windshield may require professional help.
- As the next option, consider installing sound deadening mats in the car door panels. The mats offer extra sound protection, helping to block wind noise and noise from loud engines.
- If you enjoy driving with open windows, installing wind deflectors will be the best solution for you. They will reduce the wind noise and thus give you more comfortable experience in your car cabin.
With these steps, you should be able to solve your wind problem. If nothing seems to work, it may be time to consider trading in your vehicle.
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