Tires and Road Noise — Good or Bad?

Tires may be noisy for some cars but quiet on others, so how can you tell if the tire noise you’re experiencing is good or bad? It’s important to know  that tire noise can just be an annoyance rather than an indicator that something bigger is wrong with your car. However, the constant humming could also be a sign that some other part of your car needs attention.

Why Does a Tire Make Noise?

When tires rotate, the tread traps air in the pockets of the tread design. Due to the weight of the car, the tread grooves squeeze, which compresses the air. When the pressurized air pops out, it produces a noise, mostly through vibration. Tires also can make noise through their interaction with the surface. Another reason for tire noise is the actual air in the tire itself. The donut shape lets the tire act as a reverberating compartment that causes a humming sound and even drum-like sounds when going over bumps and into potholes.

Because tire noise can be an annoying experience when you’re cruising down the freeway and you can’t hear your favorite song, tire manufacturers have been aiming at making your ride as smooth and comfortable as possible. Quieter tire models have been an attractive selling point for manufacturers like Pirelli and Bridgestone. These tires absorb the vibrations so the noise is reduced without compromising the driving characteristics of the tire.

When Is Tire Noise Not about the Tires?

Although noisy tires are typically not a safety issue, if your vehicle is experiencing consistent and loud tire noise, your tires may be telling you something. Be sure to check the following:

  • Alignment and balance
  • Wheel or rim damage
  • Struts and shocks
  • Wheel bearings

The best way to get tires that are quiet and comfortable is to work with the experts at your local dealership. Those who know your car best can explain the performance characteristics of each tire and how it fits your vehicle and individual driving characteristics.