A Couple of Options for Your Noisy Forester

Dear Car Talk:

Our 2016 Subaru Forester is the noisiest car I've ever driven. And I've been herding cars down the road for 60 years. We hear road noise, wind noise, even cabin fan noise. It makes our ears roar on the highway.

Would it help to install additional weather-stripping around the doors, rear hatch and hood? I'm willing to try anything. -- William

You're willing to try anything, William? How about leasing a new Lexus?

Additional weather-stripping is not going to work. There's really no room for more weather-stripping around the doors. It's designed to seal tightly, and if you add additional material, your doors won't close.

If you think it's noisy in your Forester now, William, try driving with the doors open. Plus, weather-stripping is only one small component in making a car quieter. There's the mass of the car; more mass absorbs road noise. There's the amount of sound-deadening material around the passenger compartment. There's thicker, "quiet" glass that can be used. And there's even noise cancellation technology that can be introduced through the car's audio system.

Then there are the aerodynamics of the car. The more easily it "slips" through the air, the better your mileage and the less wind noise it produces. All of that stuff is done in the engineering and design process. So there's nothing you can do now to change or add those things.

So what can you do? Well, first, have your mechanic check for bad wheel bearings. These Foresters are famous for that. A bad wheel bearing will sound like there's a garbage truck following you everywhere. The noise also can sneak up on you over time, because it gets a little worse and a little louder each day. Then suddenly, you notice that your wife, in the passenger seat, can no longer hear any of your crackpot ideas. Bad wheel bearings also can be dangerous, so check that first.

Another thing that might help is newer and better tires. Do some research. If you go to tirerack.com, you can get a list of tires recommended for your Forester. If you click on their ratings, under "comfort ratings," you'll find a noise rating, too.

Just browsing now, the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus II gets the best rating for noise. And if your tires are old and wearing out, good-quality, new tires could make a real difference in terms of road noise.

The other thing you can do is remove the crossbars from the roof rack that you never use. Roof racks, bicycle carriers and things like that add a lot of wind noise.

You also might make an appointment with your audiologist, William, just to be sure that it's not your hearing that's changed rather than your Subaru. In the best-case scenario, they'll tell you that you need hearing aids. Then you can turn them off when you're driving the Forester.

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