You’re on a mission. You want to eliminate road noise, noise from outside the vehicle, and all sorts of little vibration and resonance noises that penetrate the cabin of your car. If you succeed, you’ll achieve the “nerve calming quiet” that a lot of luxury car makers charge top dollar for.
Here’s a quick guide to sound-proofing your vehicle with basic materials and tools.
Step 1: Choose Your Material
First, you need to choose a sound proofing material. Professionals often use a variety of materials based on the specific application area, ease of install, and cost.
Here are your typical noise diminishing materials:
Sound proofing mats: Typically made of stryene-butyadine rubber or asphaltic panes, these adhesive backed mats are easy to use and very effective. One of the best known names in these mats is Dynamat — this brand makes mats for various areas of your car to keep out sound at the firewall, roof, and doors.
Insulation: This material is constructed of fibers or textiles that are laid underneath carpets or door panels. It’s not as effective as others in blocking sound, but does block heat more effectively.
Spray-on media: Sometimes these require professional equipment, like spray guns, to apply. Other types are available in aerosol cans. Sprays are typically only used when other materials are too heavy or bulky.
Foams: You can buy a foam spray or a sheet of foam. The sheets are laid like the mats, while the spray is applied using an air gun or spray can. This material disperses sound waves into the foam, much like the mats do.
Step 2: Prep the Surface
Regardless of the material, surface prep will ensure a much longer life of the product. It will also make it easier to clean off should you decide to remove it. Clean all surfaces thoroughly to remove residue or adhesive from previous products.
In terms of choosing a cleaner, you want to read the installation instructions for whatever sound deadener you’re adding. For some materials, wiping down the surface with alcohol is sufficient. For others, you may need to sand away any paint or non-metallic materials.
Step 3: Tape Off and/or Pre-Cut
At this phase, you’ll either need to test fit the sheet, mat, or insulation pad before application to make sure it doesn’t overlap into areas it shouldn’t be. Any excess material should be carefully trimmed to fit.
Alternatively, if you’re spraying a media or foam, you’ll need to tape off the surrounding sections that you don’t want material on. This may be a little time consuming, but skipping this step could mean damaged electronics, panels, or paint.
Step 4: Apply
If you purchased a mat or sheet, application is as easy as laying it on the area you choose. Application with a spray or foam will require carefully covering the area, one layer and a time, then waiting until it dries.
When the process is over, you’ll find your car now has a new, more peaceful atmosphere. Talking to your passengers will no longer require shouting and the quality of the sound coming from your stereo will improve. You’re now ready to enjoy even the longest of road trips with increased comfort.
A self-described “car nerd,” Jason is a automotive columnist who has written for the eBay Motors blog, Motor Car Digest, as well as his own sites TundraHeadquarters.com and AccurateAutoAdvice. With an engineering degree, a full-time job in the automotive parts industry, and a decade of experience working in auto dealerships, Jason brings an interesting perspective on all things automotive.