How can I improve the road noise I'm hearing in my new Ford Escort?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

Having based my selection of a new automobile on economy and ease of handling, I recently purchased a new Ford Escort. Although these two requirements have been adequately met, I am disappointed with the amount of road and engine noise heard inside the vehicle. Having just made a "step down" to a smaller car, I don't know if this is a characteristic of small cars in general. Is it?

TOM: It's a characteristic of small, CHEAP cars, James.

RAY: Right. It's true that in general, small cars do give you more road and engine noise. Because the car is smaller, the axles are closer together. And because the axles are closer together, every wheel is closer to what? Your ears!

TOM: And because there's less car around you, you're more likely to hear the noises from the engine and the road.

RAY: And those ARE general characteristics of small cars. If you lengthened the Escort's wheelbase and put another ton of metal around it, you'd have a Crown Victoria!

TOM: But like anything else, James, within the category of small, you can get good quality or not-so-good quality. For example, it's possible to get a small car that maximizes the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) like the Dodge Neon. You might find that somewhat more comfortable than the Escort.

RAY: Or you could get a car built with better quality parts, better assembly, and more sound insulation, like the Geo Prizm and Toyota Corolla. You'd find those cars considerably quieter than the Escort, although considerably more expensive, too.

TOM: So part of the problem was that you bought small, James. But you really sealed your fate by buying cheap. So as you rattle irritably through your next 80,000 miles, think about the famous Click and Clack Great Unyielding Truth: "It's the stingy person who spends the most."

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