A factory-fitted car system can sound decent enough at times yes, but I’m pretty sure we can all agree that an upgraded car audio system is pretty awesome. Not only does a pumpin’ system breathe new life into music, it also adds a distinct level of enjoyment that only a few would understand. Seeing as life is all about balance; while the upside is some very awesome low bass notes, ultra-warm and realistic vocals and super-crisp highs – the downside is usually some really annoying rattles, and I don’t just mean the rear number plate.
Experience has taught me that the best time to actually tackle the sound dampening process on a car is as soon as you’ve purchased it. I know it might not necessarily be a process you’d look forward to if you’re planning on doing it DIY, but I can promise you that the effort will reap some serious rewards. I say sound dampening should be your very first step because when a car is new, the panels are still rather tight.
The moment you add dampening to metal panels that are still fresh, tight and properly-bonded; the dampening sheets are guaranteed it to keep it that much tighter, compared to applying dampening to panels that have already stretched. We’re not here to discuss dampening metal, though – instead, we’ll be addressing its more annoying sibling: those squeaky, rattling plastic panels that sit atop the doors and tail gate.
It’s worth bearing in mind that squeaks and rattles usually occur as a result of either two surfaces rubbing together, or as a result of some part that’s not quite secure. You should also remember that every component has a resonant frequency, which is sometimes pleasing to the ears – and sometimes not so much.
What I like to do when addressing these annoying rattles, is to change the panel’s resonant frequency by adding Constrained Layer Dampening (CLD), which we traditionally call “Sound Deadener”. By doing so, you’ll be able to better-control the panel’s natural resonance. Yes, these pads have greater use beyond just being used on metal panels and the inside of your doors!
There’s no denying there are some solid brands out there, but my personal preference in my rides (for various reasons), is products from the STP range. Not only do they come with a proven track record internationally, but more importantly: it’s freely available, and there’s always stock available. The other factor that draws me to them is that they happen to have a few different CLD solutions to choose from within their range. For these panels in particular, I used some of the older STP Gold; which I cut into little blocks, which I then evenly distributed over the entire area (as I didn’t have too much of on hand at the time). I managed to cover just over 30% total area of the panel, which yielded great results; however, if your budget allows, I guarantee you the results would be even better if you covered the entire panel.
Once you’re satisfied with your CLD layer, you can move onto the next important layer – the sound absorber. For this, I used the STP Biplast Premium; which is a sound absorber, heat insulator and vibration absorber all-in-one. Not only does it feature the highest sound-absorption coefficient, it also has the widest frequency range-absorption; but for the purpose of this article, we’re only interested in its vibration-absorbing abilities.
This material has its own adhesive which is pretty strong, so I seriously recommend you work with it in small sections at a time. You could even go as far as cutting it into little blocks; the last thing you’d want is to have it sticking to something it’s not supposed to – because if that happens, not only is it very difficult to remove but you’ll have wasted the material (it’s not reusable). Unlike the CLD, when using Biplast Premium (sound absorber) you’ll need to ensure that you get 100% coverage – in other words, you don’t want to be able to see any part of the inside plastic at all. Once you’re done completely covering the panel, fit it back into place and you should be noise-free.
For your final assurance for rattle-free panels and a powerful, immersive in-car experience; I recommend you try out some STP Bitoplast Anti-squeak Tape, which gets applied to all of the panel’s securing clips. This will ensure an ultra-snug fit, and complete your efforts at getting rid of all undesired rattles and noises. Not only will all these steps vastly improve the sound quality of your car audio, but the cabin will also be a lot quieter and solid; basically, just a really nice place to be in during your daily commute. For more information on STP products, please check out http://www.ananzitech.co.za