How to Reduce Engine Noise and Soundproof Your Car Cabin

There are many different issues that add to the noise in your car cabin, but the engine is one of the hardest to treat.

When dealing with wind noise, you can attempt to repair seals or check for cracks in the windows. If the road noise is getting to you, new tires may solve the problem.

I’ve only found two potential solutions for dealing with loud engines. You can either take your car to a mechanic or start soundproofing the cabin.

While all engines make noise, excessively loud engines can become a nuisance and a distraction. The constant chugging and grinding of mechanical parts or sudden, unexpected pops may even become unbearable.

If the noises are due to a mechanical problem, a simple tune up may solve the issue. Otherwise, soundproofing your car is often the best option.

Car soundproofing - How to reduce engine noise

What Causes Excessive Engine Noise?

The engine in your car should make noise when it’s running. When the noise gets too loud, it’s time to find the cause.

As mentioned, your engine may start making more noise due to a mechanical problem. You may hear some of the following sounds:

  • Squealing
  • Popping
  • Pinging or knocking
  • Clicking
  • Ticking
  • Roaring sounds while idling
  • Noise while accelerating

Unfortunately, diagnosing the issue is impossible without getting a good look inside the hood. There are dozens of potential causes for these sounds. To diagnose engine problems, take the car to a mechanic.

If you simply have a loud engine, a tune up won’t solve your problem. For these situations, I recommend soundproofing. When you can’t reduce the noise, block it out.

Ways to Soundproof Your Car Cabin and Reduce Engine Noise

Soundproofing materials provide an effective way to start reducing noises from outside the cabin. The following techniques can help you get started:

  • Apply sound deadening car mats
  • Use foam sound deadening sprays
  • Replace worn rubber door seals
  • Consider installing rubber undercoating
  • Check your tires for uneven wear

Besides blocking sounds from loud engines, these methods can reduce any exterior noise, helping to create a quieter cabin.

Apply Sound Deadening Mats to the Interior

If you only have the time and budget for one option, start with the sound deadening car mats. You can add them to interior car door panels to block outside noises.

Sound deadening mats are made with thick materials that help insulate and soundproof the vehicle. If you want to improve the sound of your audio system, sound deadening mats are also a great option, as they improve the acoustics in the cabin.

Besides installing these mats in the car door panels, I’ve installed them under the floormats, in the roof, and in the trunk. You can use them all over the cabin to create a quieter interior.

Which mat should you use? Dynamat is the most-recommended brand and appears on almost every list of the best sound deadening car mats.

The Dynamat Extreme Bulk Pack gives you nine sheets, each measuring 32 x 18 inches. With the nine pack, you should have no problem adding the material to four standard-sized doors. With a second pack, you could start soundproofing the floor.

The steps for installing sound deadening mats are simple. Most people can complete them without any previous experience working on vehicles. However, I’ve also found a straight-forward video on how to remove the car door panel and install sound deadening mats.

Use Foam Sound Deadening Sprays in Tight Corners

For harder-to-reach areas, the sound deadening mats won’t work. To get into the corners and crevasses of the vehicle, I use a sound deadening spray.

The Boom Mat Spray-On Sound Deadening Can cover up to 20 square feet with fast-drying foam insulation. With this foam, you get sound deadening and thermal insulation at a low price. It even helps prevent rusting.

The spray-on insulation is only recommended after installing the deadening mats as a filler for difficult areas. It’s difficult to remove, making it suitable for use around mechanical or electronic components. You need to ensure that every part of the car is still accessible for repairs.

Use the spray in the corners where the mats don’t quite reach to help fill in the gaps. It typically hardens in just a few hours and can even be painted over.

Before spraying the material, make sure that you thoroughly clean the area that you plan to insulate. After prepping the surface, spraying the foam is like using any other spray can.

See also: Lizardskin vs. Dynamat (Sound Deadening Spray vs. Mat)

Replace or Upgrade Worn Rubber Door Seals

One of the simplest fixes is replacing the rubber seals around the car doors and car door windows. When these seals get worn, more noise can penetrate the interior of the cabin.

You may also start to hear a high-pitched whistle. This wind noise is caused by air trying to escape the vehicle.

Over time, the rubber strips may start to fall off or wear, ruining the airtight seal. Replacing them only takes a few minutes and may cost less than $20.

Replacing the seals won’t have a dramatic impact on the engine noise, but it’s still a recommended way to help soundproof your vehicle. The rubber strips are inexpensive and typically have an adhesive backing.

To install the new rubber seal, simply pull the old strip out of the car window or from around the edge of the door. Use hot water and soap to remove the old adhesive and then wipe the surface clean.

Use Spray-On Rubberized Undercoating

Rubber undercoating is an efficient way to help block engine noises. You spray it on the underside of your car and then allow it to dry.

The underside of your vehicle is constantly exposed to the road. The spray-on undercoating offers an extra layer of protection against corrosion, rust, and noise.

Getting professional undercoating is expensive. Luckily, the spray-on undercoating canisters are incredibly affordable.

The undercoating helps dampen the sounds caused by vibrations. When you have a loud engine, these vibrations contribute to the overall noise problem.

There are two main types of spray-on undercoating – rubberized and polyurethane.

The polyurethane undercoating is less expensive and seeps into the cracks, which makes it unsuitable for use around the quarter panels or wheel wells. I recommend you use the rubberized undercoating as it’s the best protective solution against rust, moisture, and sound.

The 3M Professional Grade Rubberized Undercoating comes in a 16-ounce canister. While you’ll need a few cans to fully coat the underside of your vehicle, it’s still much less expensive than professional undercoating.

The only drawback is trying to apply the undercoating. Unless you have a car-lift installed in your garage, you’ll need to use jacks to lift your car as high as possible without risking your safety.

Check Your Tires for Uneven Wear on the Treads

The final step in soundproofing your vehicle to block engine noises is to check the tires. It’s possible for the treads on the tires to wear unevenly, which can create additional vibrations and sounds. You may also experience this same problem with unaligned tires.

Regularly check your tires, even if you’re not worried about reducing engine noises. When the treads get too worn, the tires have less traction on slick surfaces, decreasing the safety of your car or truck.

If any of the tires look more worn than the other tires, replace them. However, you may avoid this problem by rotating your tires frequently.

Most mechanics recommend that you get the tires rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. For the average driver, schedule a tire rotation every three to five months.

Keeping your tires properly inflated also helps reduce uneven wear. A lot of the latest cars and trucks include an air tire pressure indicator on the dashboard console. You could also check the pressure whenever you fill up for gas, as most stations have an air pump nearby.

More on Reducing Noise

If the sound of your engine is making your ride uncomfortable, soundproofing may be your best option. Block out the sound by installing various soundproofing products, such as mats and foam sprays.

You should also check the rubber seals on the car doors. If the seal around the edges of the doors or the car door windows becomes worn, you’ll have trouble reducing engine noise.

Replace worn seals or consider upgrading your existing strips with products designed specifically for soundproofing.

Undercoating is another effective way to keep the noise levels down. You can use a spray-on rubberized undercoating or take your vehicle to an auto shop for professional undercoating.

Also, remember to check the treads on your tires. If they get too worn, you’ll hear more noise from the road.

After completing these soundproofing methods, if the noise is still too loud, the next step is to take your vehicle to a mechanic.

As a final tip, you could try to block out some of the noise by improving the quality of your sound system. Soundproofing helps improve the acoustics in your vehicle, creating a better environment for a decent audio setup.

With your favorite songs playing in a soundproofed cabin with amazing acoustics, you may not notice the engine noise as much.

You may also like: Are There Benefits to Warming Up Your Car?

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