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Why are expensive cars so quiet?

Car Talk

Dear Tom and Ray:

We bought a new Camry, but the road noise seems excessive when on certain freeway surfaces. How do expensive cars dampen road noises? Extra insulation throughout? Quieter tires? Is any of that stuff available to be installed after purchase for those of us who can’t afford a Mercedes? — Winson

RAY: Yes, all of those things affect how noisy a car is. Quieter cars use more sound insulation throughout, quieter glass, better bushings and mounts, and quieter tires.

TOM: Quieter cars often have more mass, too. Mass absorbs sound and vibration. And the Camrys of recent years definitely are lighter and less substantial than the older ones — those of a decade or more ago.

RAY: How much of this stuff can you add after you buy the car? Very little. There really are only two things you can do.

TOM: One is look for quieter tires. New, low- and mid-priced cars often come with really cheap tires. And if you go to www.tirerack.com and enter the details for your Camry, you’ll see an option called Tire Decision Guide. If you set your top priorities as “Quiet and Ride Comfort,” you’ll get a list of tires that rate better in those qualities — along with consumer reviews.

RAY: Consumer Reports also rates tires. And if you go to the website (membership required), you can look for tires that it has rated “excellent” for noise.

TOM: New tires might not be a “miracle” cure for your Camry, or it might not be worth the cost to you to ditch the four perfectly serviceable tires you have, but that’s a variable that’s most within your control. And tires — especially if you currently have noisy, lowprofi le tires — can make a meaningful difference in noise level.

RAY: The other variable within your control is “masking.” Or, as it’s otherwise known, turning up the sound system! Try some Maroon 5, Winson.

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Don’t get stuck with a lemon. Be an informed shopper. Read Tom and Ray’s guide “How to Buy a Great Used Car : Secrets Only Your Mechanic Knows.” Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Used Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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Get more Click and Clack in their new book, “Ask Click and Clack: Answers from Car Talk.” Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or email them by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.

(c) 2014 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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