Road noise transmitted from the tires represents a significant source of noise inside the cabin of a car. A lot of car owners, not happy with the way it sounds when driving, are experimenting with different wheel sizes, tire dimensions, tire makes/models and tire pressure in order to shave off some of the irritating noise inside the cabin.
The huge consumer need to be able to drive with high-performing yet quiet tires has not been even remotely satisfied thus far.
But now something fairly revolutionary may be happening in the tire market. Continental has introduced a brand new technology – named ContiSilent – that sets out to substantially reduce tire noise inside the cabin.
How ContiSilent Works
“The secret of success is a coating that is bonded to the inside of the tread area after the actual tire production process. This special layer of foam has a strong damping effect on the sound waves caused by the rolling tire, so that no matter what surface the vehicle is driving on, the noise level reaching the cabin is up to 9 decibels lower – making for a substantial improvement in the quality of the experience for the occupants”, states Continental.
As all of the other tire components and the tread pattern are adopted from standard production tires,there are no differences in terms of performance characteristics such as braking, handling or performance in the wet. And there are no changes in terms of the rims or fitting process compared with standard tires from the same product family.
The 9-Decibel Challenge
Up to 9 decibels lowered noise is a lot and it will be very interesting to see if this can actually be achieved out on public roads, and on other tire dimensions than the ones used at the initial roll-out (see details further below).
To understand what 9 decibels mean, bear in mind that a 3-decibel increase corresponds to a doubling of sound intensity. And to the human ear, a 10-decibel increase means a perceived doubling of the audible sound level.
So if the Continental tires would contribute to a 9-decibel decrease of the interior noise, then that would be perceived as the sound level almost cut in half. That would be an amazing feat.
To avoid disappointment, I will remain cautiously optimistic until the ContiSilent technology has been rolled out in the marketplace and further evidence has shown a major noise decrease on various types of surfaces, including the rough roads found in markets like Sweden.
The Market Roll-Out
Audi is the first automaker to fit its RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback models with ContiSilent tires from the ContiSportContact 5 P series. The Audi RS 6 Avant will be equipped with size 285/30 ZR 21 tires while the RS 7 Sportback will feature size 275/30 ZR 21. Like all other tires for the Audi RS models, the ContiSilent versions will bear the additional RO1 mark on the sidewall.
The ContiSilent solution will also be offered to other car manufacturers if they are interested.
With so many drivers in the world unhappy with the distressing interior noise, which to a significant part is caused by road noise, they will likely be very keen to upgrade to tires using the ContiSilent technology.
According to a Continental spokesperson, as this new technology is introduced in the Original Equipment business first, it will take quite some time for ContiSilent-equipped tires to be available in the aftermarket.
I sure hope the wait won’t be too long.