Tesla Model 3 Car Noise Reduction
This is a very subjective issue, but there are some people that find the wind and road noise of the Model 3 to be on the loud side. It’s definitely not as quiet in the cabin as something like a Lexus or BMW, but I don’t find it too loud. It’s quieter than several of my previous cars, but those weren’t luxury cars. There are some aftermarket accessories you can get to help reduce the wind and road noise. Today, I’m going to be taking a look at a door seal kit to see what, if any, difference it makes. Including a before and after test drive with a decibel meter.
I have to tip my hat to the [Model3Man YouTube channel] for bringing this door seal kit to my attention. You can find the [Goloho Door Seal Kit] on Amazon for $30. The kit claims that it will reduce the wind noise, improve air conditioning performance, and provide a quiet driving environment ... which is a little redundant. And I seriously doubt the claim of it improving the air conditioning performance. The kit arrives with all of the door seals separated into their own bags with labels for where to install them. The “instruction manual” that comes with the kit is a little on the brief side and doesn’t provide any super detailed help. The most I took away from the manual was that the rubber was going to smell bad and that I’d need to let the seals air out. But then again, I figured that out for myself as soon as I opened the box. These things stink, but the smell does go away.
When installing the kit, you should start off by cleaning the areas of the car where you’ll be placing the seals. In the pack you’ll find some adhesive promotor wipes that you’re supposed to use after cleaning. It’s a chemical agent that enhances the bond between the adhesive tape and paint.
Installing the actual door seals isn’t hard, but just takes some time and patience. The easiest pieces to install are along the B-pillar, which runs along the inner edge of the back doors. There are pieces that run along the side and lower edge of the door. When running these pieces along the bottom, you need to make sure not to cover the holes in the door. Water can make its way into the door from the window area, so these water drainage holes allow that water to escape from inside the door. You can run the door seal up above it or cut a small section out to allow drainage.
The hardest piece to install is for the A-pillar, which runs along the inner front edge of the door. You’ll have work your way around the door hinges and cables to make this work. I found it easiest to start at the top and work from both sides of the door to get the alignment right. It’s pretty awkward.
The first thing that caught my attention was how different the door sounds when you close it. Sadly, I didn’t think to get a recording of the sound before I installed the trim, but the doors sound more solid when they close now. Overall, it took me about an hour to clean and install all of the pieces.
I may have dropped the ball and forgot to capture some audio of my door closing sound before installing the seals, but I did run a driving test to get a before and after comparison. I used a couple of different decibel and frequency meters to help gauge the change.
For both runs of the car, I drove along the same stretch of the Mass Pike with speeds ranging from 30 mph to 80 mph. This is obviously not completely scientific because there’s variability in the runs. On my second run, there were a lot more cars on the road than my first test, so there was more noise in the environment than the first run.
I synced up the two runs in my video editing software and pulled readings from the decibel meter every 15 seconds along with the speed. What you’ll see is that with the exception of a couple of random samples, the door seal run had a drop in decibels. In some cases there were differences of up to 10 decibels in improvement. If you average out the delta I was seeing across the entire experiment, it was a 2.3 decibel improvement. But that doesn’t tell the whole story because speed plays a big roll in cabin noise. The faster you go, the louder it gets. If you average out the decibel readings based on speed ranges, you’ll see that the smallest improvements happened between 30-40 mph and 70-80 mph. Between 40-50 mph was the biggest delta of 7.65 decibels, and between 60-70 mph I saw 3.62 decibels improvement.
That result wasn’t too surprising to me since lower speeds don’t generate that much road and wind noise in the first place. As speed ramps up it gets louder, so there will be diminishing returns on the improvement at the highest speeds.
Subjectively, the cabin does feel quieter than it did before the seals. In fact it feels quieter than the small decibel level improvements would make you think. There’s a good reason for that based on how we perceive sound.
The loudness of a sound will feel like it’s doubled every 10 decibels, and the human ear is capable of detecting a loudness change after 3-5 decibels.1 So why would my car feel like it’s a noticeable change if there’s only around 3 decibels improvement overall? Well, I think that it’s coming down to how the human ear perceives loudness over a range of frequencies.
The ear is geared towards frequencies in the range of 2,000 - 5,000 Hz, which means sounds in that frequency range sound louder than sounds in other frequencies.2 Even if they’re happening at the same exact intensity ... or decibel. Our ears don’t hear the “loudness” of each frequency equally across the spectrum. This is why taking a reading with an unweighted decibel meter can be perceived in a very different way.
The tone or quality of the sound in the cabin has absolutely changed in the car after I installed the door seals. My best guess is that some of the frequencies that I perceive as loud have now been filtered out, which gives the impression of a more comfortable and quieter cabin.
Was it worth $30 and an hour of my time to install the Goloho door seals? For me, in the end it was. It was a relatively cheap experiment that has altered the sound of my Model 3 for the better. It’s not a dramatic change, but it’s an improvement. But like I said in the beginning, I never thought my car was overly loud in the first place. If you’re someone who’s more sensitive to the road and wind noise in your car, I’d definitely recommend taking a look at this kit. If you’re not bothered by the sound of your Model 3 today, then this is something you should pass on.