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I have an old Mazda 6 with 215/45-R18 all-season tires that produces significant road noise at highway speeds, even with the engine running low RPMs. I am wondering:

  1. How much do the tires contribute to highway road noise, and
  2. How much can tire selection alter that?

I understand that adding noise insulation is another means to mitigate noise. I'm just curious to what degree tire selection (within the same size and class) can alter road noise.

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While your question is a bit subjective and depending on the vehicle used, there is definitely something to say about road noise caused by tires. In the EU every new tire has a tyre label that lists the rolling resistance, the grip on wet roads and also the noise emission at 50mph and 7.5m distance.

EU tire label

This also shows that all-season tires and winter tires generally produce more road noise because their tire tread is more coarse.

So to answer your question:

  1. Cannot say anything about that because it depends on your vehicle (engine noise, interior sound insulation) and the road surface
  2. Different tires produce different amounts of noise, summer tires are generally quieter than all-season and winter tires. Try to look for the tire labels.
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    Here in the States there's no noise emission label on the tire (which kinda sux in retrospect). I'm wondering the testing criteria for the tires, though. I've had tires before which were uber quiet for about the first 100 miles or so, then exhibited a large amount of road noise after that. If testing doesn't take this into account, not sure how much of a difference the label makes. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 30 '18 at 11:11
  • No tire wear is the same over 100 miles. It is unique for each car and application. Also if they start making noise it could be an indication of cupping (sawtooth wear), which could be caused by improper tire pressure, worn shocks or just an unlucky tire<->vehicle combination. Also if the feetwet his tires are sold in the EU he can of course lookup the label online. – MadMarky Mar 30 '18 at 11:37
  • Everything you mention is sort of my point. How can tire noise be judged when there are so many variables which are present? I've found the best thing to do is a lot of research with prior owners to see how their reactions are to the tires. All tires get more road noise as they reach the end of their life, too, so that should be taken into account as a "normal" factor. There's just too many things which can cause it. Also, if a tire is getting cupping within a 100 miles of new, there's some serious alignment/suspension issues with the car. This wasn't my case: just crappy tires. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 30 '18 at 12:02
  • If the EU regulators are to believed then it appears that there is a very precise answer to my question – just not one we can find in the US! Also, both you and @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 suggest that as tread wears down tire noise increases, which seems at odds with your statement that generally tires with coarser tread are noisier? – feetwet Mar 30 '18 at 12:15
  • @feetwet - On the contrary, as large lugged tires will be noisier than a fine lugged tire, but both will get noisier as the tread wears down. The lugged tire just starts out noisier. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 30 '18 at 12:18
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Tires are at their best when evenly inflated to manual specs and all 4 have matching tread. It makes a difference. Also it helps if driver avoids curb checks and potholes. If your car is sporty and light the load within can cause several misleading issues. Remember to document issues when tank is full and empty, and the same with load in the trunk etc. You would be shocked at interior weight difference effects on driving stability and control.

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I have a 2016 Dodge Challenger. At 40000 miles I had to replace all four tires. I paid $600 and got standard tires, the same size just no longer special - just regular tires and I regret that simply because I now sound like I am inside a monster truck when I'm going down the road.

Especially on the interstate it is so loud it makes my head hurt. I also feel like I don't have as much control over my car because the stock tire is a low profile tire. It's okay to switch but I didn't realize what that meant.

Being a master technician for Harley-Davidson I pay attention to a lot - I noticed a low speed wobble at 8,000 miles on this car with stock tires. I knew something wasn't right and I had nothing but problems.

I don't have the same problems with the new tires but I can't think if I'm driving, as it's so loud, but at the end of the day I just suck it up.

  • You replaced the OEM tires with "standard tires, the same size just no longer special." So what make and model were the original tires, and what make and model are the replacements? What made the originals "special?" – feetwet Dec 29 '18 at 0:04

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