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What to do if you're tyred of your noisy car
WHEN the tyres on his Audi A4 needed replacement, entertainment manager Gary Sim decided to give his car the silent treatment. He replaced the worn Michelin Pilot Sport tyres with a set from Yokohama designed specifically to cut noise.
The tyres are "good beyond words," he said. "The car has never been so silent while on the road."
Tyres engineered for silence are something of a Japanese speciality. Yokohama claims the Advan dB V522, the tyre that Mr Sim chose for his Audi, is the quietest tyre it has ever produced.
This weekend, Bridgestone is launching the Turanza T005A, a new tyre that is also designed for a quiet ride.
Tyres can produce a large amount of noise as they roll along the road, and at cruising speeds are often louder than a car's engine.
To silence them, engineers rely on a number of subtle, but meaningful construction techniques. The grooves on the Yokohama V522s are offset by a few millimetres, for example. This helps the tread blocks hit the road at slightly different intervals, which keeps noise from building up at a certain frequency.
Its inner belts are wider than those of a normal tyre, in order to minimise the vibrations that produce noise.
The real challenge for tyre engineers is to create products that are quiet without sacrificing grip. Much of that involves chemistry - what is usually thought of as rubber on a tyre is usually a silica-based compound, and tweaks to its formulation can improve tyre performance.
Yokohama says a new compound for the V552 means it provides better braking and handling in wet conditions than its predecessor, the V551. It also improves fuel efficiency.
Likewise, Bridgestone says the new compound for the Turanza T005A improves wet weather performance.
The new tyres effectively allow drivers to make their cars more refined, especially if they value quietness on the move.
Audi driver Mr Sim said his car's old tyres drowned out conversation and music in the cabin, which he found annoying. "My previous tyres sounded like I was grinding stones."