Highway driving - Cabin noise and hearing protection

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I have started to notice that long trips on the interstate (speeds 75MPH or higher) really leave my head/ears feeling fatigued and worn. No different than flying on a plane and hearing the engines humming away the entire time. Admittedly my Toyota truck with AT-looking tire tread isn't helping the situation, but I've gotten similar outcomes in smaller crossover SUVs and some cars. Road and engine noise are quite high at interstate speeds. When I fly I typically wear noise cancelling Bose earbuds, so I gave those a shot while driving and was surprised how well it works. 90% of the droning sound is blocked, I can still hear music playing on the radio, and I can still pick up outside noises. The earbuds are just dangling in my lap with the noise cancelling turned on - not plugged into anything so it's not as if I'm oblivious to the world. Are there any better approaches to what I'm doing besides making my next vehicle purchase a Cadillac with heavy noise dampening? I do plan on going with a quieter tire as well once my current set wears out.
 
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Short of pulling some of the interior, adding dynamat, and going to a quieter tire that's about all you can do. That being said... I love how quiet my 300 is. The van is pretty loud.
 
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Any chance you have air leakage through the windshield or door seals? When I purchased my 2002 Lincoln 7 yrs ago I noticed some extra noise in the front cabin. Bought the car with the stipulation than anything wrong with the windshield seal (or moon roof sealing) would be on the seller's dime. As it turned out there was a windshield seal issue that contributed quite a bit of extra cabin noise. New windshield and seal fixed the issue. Now quiet as can be.
 
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Even if they're "just" noise cancelling, there's some parts where wearing headphones while driving is illegal. Could be an uphill battle explaining to a law enforcement officer or judge that the headphones weren't of a variety that blocked out important exterior-to-the-car noises.
 
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Originally Posted by pitzel
Even if they're "just" noise cancelling, there's some parts where wearing headphones while driving is illegal. Could be an uphill battle explaining to a law enforcement officer or judge that the headphones weren't of a variety that blocked out important exterior-to-the-car noises.
In my state anything that distracts or limits your ability to operate in a "safe" manner is a potential ticket. In any case I don't think they'd pull you over just for that.. there's usually some other moving violation. But none the less you do risk the ticket if wearing headphones. I personally wouldn't wear headphones or earbuds while driving but to each his own. Your car, your (potential) ticket.
 
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Every state has different laws about wearing headphones or earbuds while driving but you weren't asking the legality of using them Don't understand how earbuds in your lap would do anything but that isn't likely to get you a ticket. Maybe have music on to distract from the tires droning?
 
Originally Posted by skyactiv
There is where late model Ram trucks shine.
I recently rented a Ram Limited and was disappointed at the level of road noise at highway speed. Maybe it was the pavement or the 20" low-pro tires?
 
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My '07 Accord has high road noise. The RT43 tires helped a lot compared to the original tires, but it's still noisy compared to my Buick or Impala. I used foam earplugs in our noisy Windstar van we used to own.
 
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I feel like wearing noise cancelling headphones while driving is a dangerous idea. The road noise in some cars will actually give me a headache on a long drive. My BMW is super quiet inside, my Wrangler is not. The Jeep has mostly wind noise on the highway, which is annoying at times but not ridiculous. I can't stand Hondas anymore though. I did an hour long trip in my mom's 2011 Fit once and it was terrible. Not really any wind noise but the tires (fairly new General RT43's) sounded like mud terrains and seemed to howl above 20 mph. The tires have always been loud in that car, no matter what brand/type are put on it. Even my sister's Acura 3.2TL while being much quieter inside than the Fit still has very noticeable tire noise even with Michelins. What Toyota truck do you have? My buddy's 2008 Tacoma really howled at anything above 35 mph. We thought it was the tires initially but it had a bad wheel bearing. Replaced the wheel bearing and it is MUCH quieter inside.
 
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I've worn my Bose noise-cancelling headphones a lot while commuting. I got them for planes and trains, but they work just as well in a car or pickup, and so long as they're only cancelling noise and not being used as headphones, they don't reduce your awareness of externals sounds, IMO.
 
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Originally Posted by bulwnkl
I've worn my Bose noise-cancelling headphones a lot while commuting. I got them for planes and trains, but they work just as well in a car or pickup, and so long as they're only cancelling noise and not being used as headphones, they don't reduce your awareness of externals sounds, IMO.
Precisely. A lot of the concerns here may be from people who haven't worn these while driving. I can still hear horn honks, doors closing, etc.
 
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Originally Posted by 69GTX
Any chance you have air leakage through the windshield or door seals? When I purchased my 2002 Lincoln 7 yrs ago I noticed some extra noise in the front cabin. Bought the car with the stipulation than anything wrong with the windshield seal (or moon roof sealing) would be on the seller's dime. As it turned out there was a windshield seal issue that contributed quite a bit of extra cabin noise. New windshield and seal fixed the issue. Now quiet as can be.
Quite possible since I had to get a replacement windshield earlier this year. It doesn't leak water, though, so asking the shop to rip it out to find an air leak may be unwarranted.
 
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Originally Posted by jeepman3071
I feel like wearing noise cancelling headphones while driving is a dangerous idea. The road noise in some cars will actually give me a headache on a long drive. My BMW is super quiet inside, my Wrangler is not. The Jeep has mostly wind noise on the highway, which is annoying at times but not ridiculous. I can't stand Hondas anymore though. I did an hour long trip in my mom's 2011 Fit once and it was terrible. Not really any wind noise but the tires (fairly new General RT43's) sounded like mud terrains and seemed to howl above 20 mph. The tires have always been loud in that car, no matter what brand/type are put on it. Even my sister's Acura 3.2TL while being much quieter inside than the Fit still has very noticeable tire noise even with Michelins. What Toyota truck do you have? My buddy's 2008 Tacoma really howled at anything above 35 mph. We thought it was the tires initially but it had a bad wheel bearing. Replaced the wheel bearing and it is MUCH quieter inside.
2015 Tacoma. I don't believe the wheel bearings would be worn out yet as it only has 35k miles of light driving.
 
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Originally Posted by Reddy45
Originally Posted by 69GTX
Any chance you have air leakage through the windshield or door seals? When I purchased my 2002 Lincoln 7 yrs ago I noticed some extra noise in the front cabin. Bought the car with the stipulation than anything wrong with the windshield seal (or moon roof sealing) would be on the seller's dime. As it turned out there was a windshield seal issue that contributed quite a bit of extra cabin noise. New windshield and seal fixed the issue. Now quiet as can be.
Quite possible since I had to get a replacement windshield earlier this year. It doesn't leak water, though, so asking the shop to rip it out to find an air leak may be unwarranted.
Mine didn't leak water either. But it was clear to me there was extra noise in the cabin that shouldn't be there. It helped that I owned another identical car before I got that one.
 
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I drive a lot. I also rent all sorts of cars. There is one universal truth, noise control is the aspect of a luxury car that makes a high end car incredibly pleasant on long trips. I tend not to like noise cancelling systems in low end cars, as I find they are not that effective, as they may simply mask a noisy 4 cylinder idle. Example: Chevy impala 4 cyl. An interesting favorite is the Volvo S90 sedan. A wonderful touring car. Solid and quiet, often operates on electric only and the 4 cylinder is well masked except at full throttle. Back to earbuds, I like the Skull Candy inked wireless. They block a lot of noise due to the sealed design, and sound very good (just a tick under the wired version, which have perfect fidelity) While being very affordable. Their use almost makes a Chevy Malibu tolerable. Almost.
 
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You could drive slower? That might cut down on noise. Or shift the frequencies around a bit. Not sure how often you take trips but maybe a set of all seasons on a separate set of wheels that could be swapped on for highway runs? Maybe strip the interior and put in some sound deadner? Might not have to do all of the interior; maybe just removing the door panels and working on the doors first might do something, before pulling everything out so as to do the floor. I forget, can you put mat onto the wheelwell, outside of the truck? Maybe pull the wheelliner, apply some to the backside, reinstall.
 
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Originally Posted by Reddy45
Originally Posted by bulwnkl
I've worn my Bose noise-cancelling headphones a lot while commuting. I got them for planes and trains, but they work just as well in a car or pickup, and so long as they're only cancelling noise and not being used as headphones, they don't reduce your awareness of externals sounds, IMO.
Precisely. A lot of the concerns here may be from people who haven't worn these while driving. I can still hear horn honks, doors closing, etc.
You'll have zero time to explain that when an armed government worker stops you for some infraction. Don't hang an air freshener from your rear view mirror either.
 
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I drive with foam earplugs anytime I take a long trip (or anytime I ride my motorcycle). I still can hear all needed sounds (horns, sirens, etc), as well as hear music on the radio (I do increase the volume), but am much more relaxed when I arrive due to not being stressed out over noise (which you don't even realize is happening).
 
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Originally Posted by blupupher
I drive with foam earplugs anytime I take a long trip (or anytime I ride my motorcycle). I still can hear all needed sounds (horns, sirens, etc), as well as hear music on the radio (I do increase the volume), but am much more relaxed when I arrive due to not being stressed out over noise (which you don't even realize is happening).
Yup I got used to riding my motorcycle with ear plugs, which is why I figure it's no different in a car. The stress from constant loud noise is real.
 
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