You have put snow tires on your car, and they are loud. However, the long-term forecast calls for heavier snowfalls this season, and it’s best to keep them on. So why are the winter snow tires so noisy?
Here are 4 reasons why your snow tires are so noisy:
- They have a wider tread.
- The shape of the tread blocks is different.
- Winter tires use different rubber.
- The noise is a sign that something is wrong.
The additional noise is a trade-off for the extra traction and handling that snow tires provide. Snow tires will protect you from accidents, and no one wants to spend several hours in a car waiting for a tow. Read on to find out why you need to put up with the added noise.
1. They Have a Wider Tread
Winter tires feature wide spaces between the treads so the tires can better grip the road. The wide treads displace the snow and ice, creating “pathways” to travel through. However, when the roads are clear, the air creates an echo chamber of sorts.
What you hear is the sound of compressed air escaping the treads. The higher the speed, the louder the sound. The more expensive winter tires contain grooves that eliminate the sound of air compression by scrambling the sound waves.
2. The Shape of the Tread Blocks Is Different
Manufacturers of winter tires use a variety of tread patterns, all designed to increase traction by clearing slush and snow. They range from:
- Staggered shoulders
These different patterns make it easier to brake, turn, and brake safely. However, the greater traction from the muscular-looking tread patterns comes at the expense of increased road noise.
3. Winter Tires Use Different Rubber
Winter tires are constructed with a different type of rubber than summer tires. The softer rubber helps them to stay flexible in sub-zero conditions. Do you prefer walking on ice in winter boots or dress shoes?
The rubber in all-season tires hardens at low temperatures. All-season tires and winter tires have roughly the same traction until the temperature drops below 40 °F (4.44 °C). When temperatures drop below that, winter tires become less stiff, which increases their grip, while the rubber in all-season tires stays firm, decreasing their traction.
Winter tires also contain silica, a sand-like addition that adds more traction and reduces the tire’s rolling resistance, which improves fuel consumption. Silica also increases the flexibility of the rubber.
4. They Are a Sign That Something Is Wrong
Sometimes the addition of tires can make us aware of other noises. Also, tires can get louder for several reasons.
For example, the tires may have developed cupping. If the suspension is worn or the tires are misaligned, the tire tread blocks can become misshapen, a condition known as cupping.
Cupped and unevenly worn tires are only a sign of the main problem. Simply replacing tires will cause the new tires to wear out because the underlying problem will likely worsen. Instead, you’ll need to figure out what else is wrong with your suspension. Alignment issues, poor shocks, or damaged wheel bearings are all possibilities.
Why Do Small Changes in Tires Impact Sound So Much?
A few minor changes to tires can increase the sound because decibel levels increase exponentially. For example, when decibel levels are raised by 10, the increase is not an additional 10, but a factor of 10. So 20 dB is 100 times louder than 10 dB, and 30 dB is 1000 times louder.
Therefore, even a slight increase in decibels will sound lower.
Quieter All-Season Tires vs Winter Tires
Since all-season tires are quieter, why not use them? All-season tires try to balance performance between summer and winter driving. They offer a good ride and tread life in hot weather, and they can handle mild winter road conditions.
However, there are several compelling reasons to choose winter tires.
- Snow tires perform better than all-season tires on slick, icy, and snow-covered roads. You will get better traction, turn stability, and stopping power with winter tires.
- Winter tires are, without a doubt, more expensive. Keep in mind, though, that you get a lot of bang for your buck. For one, if your insurance policy has a $500 collision deductible and your winter tires prevent just one collision, they will have paid for themselves.
- In a test between all-season and winter tires performed by Tirerack, winter tires had better acceleration. More importantly, the car outfitted with winter tires could stick to its lane when making a 90-degree turn at 10 mph. Conversely, the same vehicle equipped with all-season tires skidded out of the lane.
Even though they are quieter, you should not use all-season tires in cold climates. All-weather tires may be a suitable alternative if you can stay at home when the weather is too severe. Furthermore, if you live in a region which receives little snowfall and you rarely need to drive in the snow, all-weather tires may be a good choice.
Using Two Snow Tires To Reduce the Sound Level
You should replace all four all-season or summer tires with winter tires during the snow season. The recommendation for adding the four is based on how electronic safety systems are designed.
Electronic safety systems such as anti lock brakes operate under the assumption that all the vehicle’s tires are of the same type. As a result, the computers’ sensors won’t work correctly if the car has different tires.
Is There Any Way To Reduce Snow Tire Noise?
Even though winter tires are louder, there are a few methods to reduce the noise. However, you won’t reduce the sound of the tires but how much sound comes into the car. In other words, you’ll soundproof your vehicle.
The following suggestions should get you started:
- Soundproof the floor
- Replace door seals
- Soundproof the doors
- Have tires rotated and balanced
You will find numerous products designed for these tasks. Snow tires are louder than all-season or summer tires, but the additional noise is why they perform better in snow. And which do you want, quiet tires or ones that keep you safe?