Tyre Noise: Which Ones Should You Worry About?

tyre noise

Last updated: May 19, 2022 at 14:12 pm

The nature of tyres means that some noise is to be expected when you’re driving any kind of vehicle on the road. Friction, particularly at high speeds, causes noise!

However, if you’re worried about the amount of noise that your tyres are making, then it might be worth doing some research.

Normal Tyre Noises

If the noises your tyres are making are consistent and have been consistent since you either bought the car or installed the tyres, the chances are that it is just a normal noise. Tyres are designed for specific purposes, and sometimes those design features mean that they make noises when used in everyday situations.

For example, low profile tyres often make much more noise than other tyres as they have less of a rubber sidewall to absorb the noise, and so it travels through the chassis and the rest of the vehicle instead. But these tyres offer more traction than other tyres, so many people opt for them despite their noisy nature.

Likewise, wider tyres are louder than narrower tyres due to their size and the amount of rubber that is in contact with the road. Touring and low-rolling-resistance tyres (LRRT) are particularly quiet, and off-road tyres are particularly noisy.

The type of tyre on your vehicle will determine whether the noises coming from your tyres are normal. One brand or style of tyre may make a noise regularly, whereas another may be predominantly silent. If either of these characteristics of a tyre suddenly changes – it may be cause for concern.

Also read: 8 Reasons Your Car Is Squeaking When Driving

Squealing

Whilst squealing or squeaking tyres is not necessarily a good thing, it is not always the sign of something serious. Often, squealing tyres are simply a sign of aggressive driving. Turning corners sharply and at high speeds can make your tyres squeal as they grip the road. Braking too hard can also make your vehicle squeak, which can often be mistaken for a tyre-related noise despite being a brake pad issue.

Neither of these suggests that your car is in dire need of fixing. However, driving in such a way can be dangerous for yourself and for other drivers on the roads. It can also lead to your tyres wearing prematurely, or your brake pads failing, which then requires mechanical help. To help your tyres last longer, try to avoid driving in this way.

Humming

Pretty much all tyres make noise unless they’re expensive sports tyres, but even then, there will be some residual humming coming from the tyres. This is completely normal and should not be enough to cause distraction on the road, nor should it concern you.

Humming is usually caused by air compression between the tyre and the road causing the wheel to shiver. This doesn’t do your tyres or your car harm. However, if your tyres begin to make louder or erratic humming noises, it is worth getting them looked at.

Abnormal Tyre Noises

If you have noticed a dramatic change in the noise created by your tyres, then they are likely making abnormal tyre noises. This suggest they need to be looked at by a professional, like a mechanic. These noises often come on suddenly after the tyres have been installed.

Squealing

Squealing tyres can be normal. However, if you’re not noticeably driving aggressively, or if you notice more squealing than before, it might be caused by any of the following.

Alignment Issues

Your wheels should always be aligned in such a way that enables them to grip the road. This keeps you safe and makes sure that your car is easy to steer and drive. Often, when there are alignment issues, the wheels begin to make noise. This is created by the tyres scuffing on the road, shifting sideways rather than rolling straight. Scuffing is particularly noisy at high speed and will create a harsh squeak.

These tyres will likely need to be replaced. To allow your next set of tyres to outlive your current set, get a mechanic to check your vehicle’s suspension and alignment. This will help to prevent any future scuffing.

Also read: Car Soundproofing: 7 Methods for Vehicle Sound Deadening

Cupping and Feathering

This can be caused by poor alignment and suspension, or it can be caused by overinflation and under inflation of the tyres. Cupping and feathering describe abnormally worn tyres.

  • Cupping is when the center of the tyre’s tread is more worn by the sides due to more regular contact with the road than the sides of the tread.
  • Feathering, on the other hand, describes tyres where one side of the tread is more worn than another. This, again, is caused by more regular contact between that part of the tyre and the road.

These irregular smooth spots on your tyres will cause them to roar and hum as you drive, much more than they usually would have done previously. Cupped or feathered tyres should be replaced quickly to limit the distraction when driving.

Damaged Tyres

tread separation

Flat spots are not the only cause of squealing tyres. Tyres with tread separation and shifted belts can cause loud squealing. These conditions are often caused by issues with inflation, potholes, hitting the curb and defective construction. The cumulative damage can lead to out-of-round tyres and out-of-balance tyres, which will also be noisy.

If you suspect this has happened to your tyres, you should replace them as soon as possible to reduce the noise of your car and reduce the risk of a crash.

Thumping

If your tyres suddenly begin to make a whomping or thumping noise, you should pull over instantly. This is usually a sign of damaged tyres and often means that either the tyres or the structural supports are damaged irreversibly. You should replace your tyres before driving anywhere.

How to Tell if Your Tyres Are Making a Normal Noise

Sometimes a tyre making noise is completely normal and doesn’t mean anything serious for your vehicle, and many of these noises are very similar to the noises that tyres make when they do need replacing or looking at. If you’re unsure whether your tyre needs replacing, it is always worth asking a professional.

Generally, if your tyre is damaged or something needs changing, the noise will be combined with clanking noises, drifting, difficulty steering and a dramatically reduced tread. If you notice any of these whilst driving your vehicle, take it to a mechanic immediately.

4 Ways to Reduce Tyre Noise

If your tyres are making noise that is not suggestive of any concerns, but that is annoying you when you drive, there are things you can do to reduce the noise. Likewise, many of these will also help to reduce the chances of damaging your tyres, helping to prevent any noisiness.

1. Inflation

Premature wear on tyres is most often caused by incorrect inflation. Overinflating your tyres can reduce the amount of the tyre that is in contact with the road, leading to irregular wear on the tyre. Under inflating the tyre can also cause damage and is likely to cause a blowout.

Keeping your tyres well-inflated can reduce any damage or premature wearing, which will ultimately reduce any noise.

2. Driving

If your tyres are squealing and you know that you drive a little erratically or aggressively, consider driving more gently from now on.

This will help to reduce any damage if you were to hit any curbs and reduces the wear, subsequently reducing the noise.

3. Regular Mechanical Checkups

If you are concerned that your tyres are going to wear or that you are going to damage them, it is worth going to get your car or vehicle looked at regularly.

Just taking in your car for a service can be a little pricey, but a check over once a year will help.

4. Regularly Check Tyres

You can easily visually assess how much of the tread is left on a tyre just by looking at it. If you notice that there are irregularly worn spots, or that your whole tyre is worn more than it should be, you can replace the tyres.

Likewise, sometimes you can see if the alignment or suspension is off, which you can then take to a mechanic to fix or correct.

5. Invest in Quiet Tyres

When you’re buying any new tyre, the dB (decibel) level will always be displayed. This allows you to see how noisy a tyre will be on the road.

Some tyres are quieter than others, and some are manufactured to specifically be quiet.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 3 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

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