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If your car tires sound loud, there may be two kinds of causes: normal and abnormal.
The normal causes include:
- Tire type, size, and tread peculiarities.
- Road conditions.
- Driving conditions and habits.
The abnormal causes include:
- Uneven treadwear.
- Improper tire and wheel maintenance.
- Non-tire part damage.
Normal Reasons Why Your Car Tires Sound Loud
Tire Type, Size, and Tread Peculiarities
All tire types make some noise. Winter tires (especially studded) and off-road car tires sound loud, due to their tread pattern goals. Also, the run-flat tires will be noisier, as they have stiffer sidewalls. Performance tires are less noisy, but not quiet due to their purpose – providing excellent grip and responsiveness.
Touring tires and those with low rolling resistance are usually the quietest. If comfort-oriented tires produce a loud noise on a smooth service, under normal driving conditions, there may be a problem.
Tires of bigger and smaller sizes usually generate more noise. For example, a 265/ tire has more contact patch area than a 235/ tire. Therefore, it will cause more noise, as more rubber will touch the road. In smaller tires, for example the 40-series, there’s less sidewall area to absorb the noise. So, if your car tires sound loud, check their aspect ratio, as the 40-series are noisier than the 60- or 65-series.
NOTE: If you need help understanding tire numbers and their meanings, use this guide.
More aggressive and symmetrical tire tread causes more noise. The reason for this is because of the air that goes in the grooves. Some air gets into the channel and compresses between the tire and the surface. As it goes out, it produces a sound, which repeats every time a new portion of air gets into the channel. The more space there is between the tread blocks (as in off-road tires), the more air gets trapped, which makes your car tires sound loud.
Manufacturers aiming for quieter tires usually put different tread block patterns near one another. Every block pattern produces a different tone of sound when the air comes out of it. The goal is to balance the tones to create a neutral white noise. This process is called pitch sequencing and is vital for maintaining quiet tire noise.
Coarse and porous surfaces may make your car tires sound loud. Road with a fresh finish may still have pores in it or be sticky, causing hollow noise. As tires bump on uneven roads, gravel, or brick, they also produce a kind of drumming sound. Highways in the middle of repair may have a layer of asphalt or concrete removed temporarily. If you drive on such a surface, you will notice a rubbing sound, which will disappear once you switch onto the regular highway again.
The best surfaces to test your tires for tread noise are new asphalt and spacerless concrete. These are the quietest and will add almost nothing to the original sound of your tires.
Driving Conditions and Habits
Your car tires may sound loud due to the following driving conditions and habits:
- Constant high speeds.
- Heavy load on the vehicle.
- Rapid speed acceleration.
- Hard braking.
- High-speed cornering.
Due to these factors, the air in the grooves may be more compressed and get louder. At high speeds, there’s more air circulating on the tread, which multiplies the regular tire noise. There’s also air within the tire, which is like a large resonance chamber, so it may cause a drumming sound.
Furthermore, tires may squeal when you accelerate rapidly or maneuver at high speeds. This happens is because the tires are trying to find traction.
Abnormal Reasons Why Car Tires Sound Loud
Uneven treadwear may cause excessive noise and vibration, and every pattern indicates a different issue. Some of the most frequent patterns are:
When the inside and outside edges of a tire wear more than the central part, it’s probably underinflated. When driving, the tire flattens too much, adding more pressure to the outer edges. Consequently, the noise the air makes, when going in between the tire and tread, will be different, making your car tires sound louder. The most usual sound in this case is a squeal.
When the center part of the tire is wearing faster than the edges, it’s usually over-inflated. The central blocks take most of the pressure, causing such a pattern. To avoid pressure-related tire issues, it’s important to check the inflation rates every 1,000 miles.
- Camber wear.
When one of the shoulders wears more than the rest of the tire, it’s called camber or one-shoulder wear. This indicates wheel misalignment, particularly in the camber angle. Such misalignment may also be a result of a damaged ball joint, or another issue in the wheel or suspension.
When one edge of the rib rounds while the other one becomes sharper, it means the tire is feathering. The main cause is a wrong toe-in setting, which is another parameter of wheel alignment. Worn out bushings or front suspension, may also cause the issue.
When there are areas across the tread where rubber seems to be scooped, this is tire cupping. It may be a result of worn or bent suspension. Tire imbalance may also be the cause, but the wear will be more irregular in that case. Such a wear pattern is called patch wear.
The most dangerous irregular wear pattern, noise-wise, is cupping, as it causes the tire to vibrate heavily. In the case of uneven wear, only one tire may produce excessive sound. This makes it easier to detect the issue and solve it. Once you notice any of the patterns, make sure to determine and fix the cause, rotating the tires afterwards. If the pattern is too severe, you may need to change the tire.
If your car tires sound loud, they may need better maintenance, as do the wheels, suspension, and other parts. The main procedures to be included in a good maintenance routine are:
- Tire balancing.
- Tire rotation.
- Wheel alignment.
If you don’t do any of these procedures regularly, the tires will wear unevenly and vibrate, producing loud noise.
Imbalanced car tires sound loud and produce vibrations, at speeds higher than 45 mph. They also wear unevenly and may damage the suspension parts, as the wheels bounce constantly. Tire imbalance is the presence of stiffer spots anywhere on the tire. Weight distribution around the tire has to be even, so every item has to be balanced when they are new. From then on, the procedure is necessary every 3,000-6,000 miles. This is because when tires wear, the weight distribution changes, and the prior balance becomes useless.
Balancing tires is putting small weights opposite the stiffer spots. You can do it at a mechanic, where a specialist will locate all the places where the rubber is thicker. It will cost you $15-$80, depending on the state of the tires, the mechanic you go to, as well as other factors. You can also do it at home, by locating the spots yourself and applying small weights on the tire rim opposite them.
This procedure is vital for your tires’ quality and your safety. You can learn more about detecting tire imbalance and solving the issue from this article.
A lack of tire rotation will make car tires sound loud and last less time, due to a different wear rate between them. Tire rotation is moving the tires on their rims to different locations on a vehicle. The procedure evens weight distribution between the tires, as it’s usually irregular. Front tires have more weight on them, due to the engine and other parts placed there. In the US, front-left tires also travel more, due to the right-hand side traffic, so they wear at a faster rate.
It’s recommended to rotate your tires every 5,000-8,000 miles. You can do it for $25-$120 at a tire shop or dealership. Some shops also do it for free if you buy tires from them.
You can also rotate the tires yourself, but make sure you check the wear of every tire, and the alignment, etc. There are several rotation patterns that depend on the severity of wear, tire size, direction, and other factors. Some drivers also choose to include their spare tire in the chosen pattern. This is a good idea if you have a full-sized functional spare, not a temporary one. This will prolong tire life for about 40,000 miles, as the fifth tire adds mileage.
If you want to learn more about tire rotation, read this post.
Misaligned wheels make car tires sound louder and wear unevenly, as they aren’t parallel to each other or perpendicular to the ground. As a result, car tires sound loud due to the wear patterns, and from the increasing sound of the air chamber. The car may also tilt to one side, which will make controlling the car more difficult. Furthermore, when any of the settings are out of proper alignment, suspension wears prematurely.
Wheel alignment is a set of three angles to which the suspension is fitted:
Camber is the angle responsible for the wheel being perpendicular to the ground.
Caster is responsible for the relation of the steering axis to the ground.
Toe is responsible for the wheels being perfectly parallel to each other.
Most vehicle manufacturers don’t mention this procedure in their guides, so there are no time- or mile-related recommendations. However, the rule of thumb is to align the wheels annually, or as frequently as you rotate the tires. You can get an alignment for $60-$100 at a tire shop or dealership.
Non-Tire Part Damage
There are a number of other parts that might make your car tires sound loud. They may become loose or wear out, causing different sounds, which may be perceived as tire sounds. They might also produce vibration, which could eventually make the tires noisier and more dangerous. Some of the car parts to pay attention to are:
- Wheel bearings.
Wheel bearings may need replacing if you hear a roaring noise when changing lanes. The sound gets louder as the speed increases and as the bearings are put under strain. The parts may be deteriorating or already damaged, due to age or a recent accident. As the condition becomes worse, the possibility of a collision, and losing control of the vehicle, increases.
- CV joints.
If the CV joints (where CV stands for Constant Velocity) are damaged or worn out, you will hear a clicking or popping noise. This happens because the axle loses the necessary flexibility, and can also result in wobbling. In this case, car tires sound loud as they also become more vulnerable to shock. The CV joints are what provides axle flexibility as the wheel and suspension move.
When damage occurs and struts are unable to do their job, the suspension is no longer fully operable. You will feel more shock, which will cause vibration, more pressure on the tires, and eventually, excessive noise. Struts (not to be confused with shock absorbers) play a major role in absorbing shock from bumps, uneven surfaces, etc.
- Hubcap lug nuts.
When lug nuts on a hubcap become loose, the hubcap will shake whenever you increase speed or turn. As it shakes, you will hear a rattling sound.
- Drive belt.
If the drive belt becomes loose, it will produce a noise, which is easily confused with wheel noise. Drive belts connect the alternator, air conditioning system, and power steering, to the crankshaft. The latter provides these systems with power.
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Loud Car Tire Sounds: Solutions
Here are some things you can do to decrease or eliminate the possibility of developing loud tire noise:
- Choose tires wisely.
Balance your needs and state your priorities, as there’s much to consider when buying tires. If little noise is one of your top priorities, choose touring tires, as they have tread patterns and materials in them that absorb most sounds. Read your vehicle’s owner’s manual and read reviews online before making a choice.
- Maintain your tires.
On average, tires roll around 4 million times in 5,000 miles. So balancing and rotating your tires once, or aligning wheels only one time, isn’t enough. When car tires sound loud, it may mean you have missed the necessary maintenance procedures. Resume the routine as soon as possible, don’t wait until the tires are worn out.
Change tires when needed.
Tires last for 6-10 years, depending on their type and the maintenance you provide. Make sure you change them when they reach the maximum age, or when you notice cracks in them. Cracks mean the rubber has deteriorated, to the point where the tread may separate at any moment. To learn what age your tires are, look at the last four digits of their DOT code. This is the date code: the first pair is the week, and the second is the year of manufacture.
Why Do My New Car Tires Sound Loud?
If you bought tires with an aggressive tread pattern, winter/snow tires, or low-profile tires, the noise will be present from day one – that’s normal. However, if you didn’t, new tires may still be noisy when you start driving on them. The main reason is because this is their first use and they need time to get accustomed to the road.
The rubber has to heat up and open its characteristics one by one. Moreover, the lubricants inside the tire need to migrate and distribute evenly. So don’t be alarmed if new tires are noisy during your first couple of drives. However, if you notice the same noise in a month or more, check whether the tires are balanced, the wheels are aligned, and the suspension is operable.