One thing many people overlook when choosing a new car is how quiet (or not) the ride is. For some people, noise can be distracting. It can be a trigger to medical conditions such as migraines, it can add to driver fatigue, and the volume levels can help or hinder your children on long journeys if they are trying to sleep. If you are someone who loves a quiet ride, then read on to discover the top tips for picking a chilled lease car that doesn’t leave you feeling stressed with a headache at the end of each journey.
One of the most obvious noises a car makes comes from the engine. This is a real easy fix, as fully electric vehicles are so quiet compared to their combustion engine counterparts. So, if you are really concerned about engine noise, EVs are for you, although a close second would be a hybrid engine, especially the newer models. The quietest diesel engines tend to be those with a large capacity and are new to the market. The loudest engines are found in a sports car - so avoid them if you like a quiet drive.
- EV: 56dB (Traffic light beeper)
- New Diesel: 65dB (General conversation)
- Lamborghini: 109dB (A rock concert!)
The noise from the road is a little bit harder to control as some factors are outside of your control. Wet roads make more noise than dry roads, and rough roads lead to a louder ride than smooth roads. There’s not much about that you can change. However, what is in your control are the tyres. Wider tread tyres make the most noise, which can also be altered by the density of the rubber, with softer equaling quieter. Finally, the higher the aspect ratio the better if you want to make positive changes.
- Wet coarse road: 88dB (alarm clock)
- Dry smooth road: 74.9dB (general conversation)
- Quietest tyres: 72dB (general conversation)
- Noisiest tyres: 76dB (general conversation)
Wind noise is not just about weather conditions; it’s a physics conundrum. The car must travel through the atmosphere which causes turbulence, even on a relatively still day. As the wind passes over the car, it makes noise when it hits features like door handles and wing mirrors and passes through gaps like the grill. If you have added extras like roof bars and boxes, you will increase the noise from the wind. Manufacturers work hard to create a low drag coefficient to minimise the noise.
- Low coefficient of drag at 15mph: 60dB (general conversation)
- Poor coefficient of drag at 15mph: 85dB (alarm clock)
- Low coefficient of drag at 60mph: 80dB (alarm clock)
- Poor coefficient of drag at 60mph: 100dB (cheering in stadium)
This next one is all down to you. Your driving style has a large impact on noise levels. If you rev your engine a lot, you will create a load of noise, which makes a lot of sense. If you were to rev a Ferrari Enzo in first gear, you could get well over 100dB. Conversely, if you drive conservatively at 60mph and do not rev the engine wildly, even in top gear, you are looking at around 70dB. In reality, this means the sportscar is eight times louder than a more sensible drive.
- __Ferrari Enzo: __100dB (cheering in a stadium)
- Standard ride (general conversation)
Other Factors That Affect Noise
The nearer to the road you get, the more noise you will hear it - so, sports cars and sporty models are usually the noisest of rides. However, there is more to consider! SUVs might well be higher off the road, but they also have a larger surface area than a saloon, so it will be a louder ride because there is more for the wind to hit.
The softer the suspension, the quieter you should find the ride. Cars with rigid suspension will transfer the vibrations in the road into the car's cabin. So, if at all possible, make sure you test drive on a variety of road surfaces.
Again, this is an area you cannot impact too much. So, it needs to be addressed when you are choosing a car. Different materials can be used in windows, and some have the option of laminated glass. This means that the window has an extra coating of plastic laminate, reducing noise. Try and road-test two similar vehicles to see the difference it makes, one with window coating and one without!
It goes without saying that one of the major contributing factors to the amount of noise you hear when driving is dependent on whom you have in the car. Now, this is one of the reasons for picking a car with a noise level that sends little children to sleep! Endlessly driving around the block to get the baby to sleep is parodied in so many cartoons, films, and TV shows, but it is a very real experience for many people. This may mean a car that makes some noise is better as sometimes it is the rumble of the road that creates the soporific effect and sends them off to dreamland!
The Service History
Another thing that can cause noise is the rattle and vibration of some of the many parts that make up a car. Over time things can work loose or get broken, and this can become a real distraction that sends your stress levels into overdrive. Keeping on top of a regular service schedule is one way to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Be sure to mention any new noises so the mechanic can check them out.
The Air Con Unit
There is no doubt that air con is a real boon when you are stuck in traffic on a hot day, but it can also be a nuisance if it is noisy. This is something that gets overlooked on the test drive, mainly if this takes place in winter. Be sure to include a full heater and air conditioning cycle during the test drive and change the vents' position to see if these are going to become problematic.
Another way to find out more about your potential new ride is to find the figures from the manufacturers. Many are very forward-thinking and understand that noise is a factor in picking a car, so they are happy to publish cabin noise numbers. Of course, these are given on a good day in perfect conditions, so do not reflect a very wet, coarse road on tyres that probably need changing, but it will provide you with an idea. There is also pressure on manufacturers to reduce noise, vibration, and harness (NVH), so they like to show their positive decibel findings on vehicle specs.
Determined to find a car you can rely on to be quiet? We recommend an EV! Head on over you our electric car leasing page to find your next ride. Alternatively, if you have your heart set on a combustion engine, our car leasing won’t disappoint.