For many people, interior noise is one of the most important factors in choosing a car and has promoted the world’s automotive engineers to develop many noise-deadening materials and techniques in a seemingly relentless pursuit to deliver a vault-like driving experience.
A car’s mechanical bits, the wind and its tires are the three main culprits of cabin noises. If the engine, suspension, and exhaust are working as intended, then you can bet most of the noises come from either the wind or the tires. The easiest way to reduce any noise is with sound-deadening.
The average car already comes with some in strategic places, but there is always areas that can be improved. The most common and simple sound-deadening techniques include filling up body cavities with acoustic foam and gluing tar-like acoustic materials to the inside of vehicle doors. Undercoating also provides a measure of noise protection.
The quest of the world’s prominent automakers to cut down on cabin noise to the lowest levels possible has resulted in a number of innovative new techniques, most notably Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Active Noise Cancellation is actually not a new concept, but its only recently that its application has become widespread in the automotive industry.
Essentially the same technology behind the Noise Cancelling Headsets sold by BOSE and others — have you ever tuned out a talkative office-mate with your headsets? — ANC cancel out the engine’s noise while you’re driving!
The system uses small microphones installed in key places in the car to pick up unwanted noises and then develops counteracting signals emitted via the car’s audio system to cancel them out. You’re basically removing bad noise with good noise.
In many luxury cars, the result is an eerily-quiet interior that allows music and other audio sources to be enjoyed in the highest fidelity possible. In fact, the gearheads at Holt FIAT of Hurst, a full-service car dealership in Hurst, TX, tell us that ANC is increasingly becoming a must-have in the premium car segment.
You might be surprised to know that in an increasing number of sports cars and sedans, Active Noise Cancellation is sometimes fine-tuned to let in little more exhaust noise. I mean, would you want a car with some performance cred to be dead quiet? Probably not.
As impressive as Active Noise Cancellation is on its own, it’s only when working together with other noise cancellation technology that auto engineers can achieve a truly quiet interior. Buick, for instance, combines ANC with other traditional techniques to form what it calls QuietTuning™ (check out the new Buick LaCrosse), a package that employs high tech sound dampening materials, acoustically laminated windshields, 5mm thick side windows, and several sound frequencies throughout the car’s interior. Even the tires are specifically chosen to minimize cabin noise.
Active Noise Cancellation is impressive and will surely pave a way for newer innovations that will make future car interior quieter than any of us have ever imagined. We can’t wait to see what the automotive industry has in store.
7 Modern Car Features That Make A Difference
Is your car up to snuff? You have a lot to consider if you’re planning to upgrade.
Expanding on our earlier piece on 5 Cool New Car Features you probably couldn’t live without, here are seven more that make a difference on the road.
Some of the features improve overall safety, while others enhance ride quality and driving enjoyment. Does your car have any of them?
1. Blindspot Monitoring
A disadvantage of driving bigger cars is that they usually possess glaring blindspots that make them hard to see out of. Thankfully, engineers have mostly remedied this problem with electronic blindspot monitoring systems that can sense when a car or another object is in your blindspot.
We contacted our tech consultant at Mullahey Chrysler (Paso Robles, CA) and learned that the Chrysler Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system, in particular, uses two radarbased sensors located inside the rear bumper to detect vehicles (automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, etc.) that enter the blind spot zones from the rear/front/side of the vehicle.
Like the system offered by most other automakers, BSM system sensors operate when the vehicle is in any forward gear or REVERSE and enters standby mode when the vehicle is in PARK. The detection zone covers approximately one lane on both sides of the vehicle.
2. Brake Vectoring
Brake vectoring is an interesting technology that helps a car maintain its grip on the road. It works by braking the inside of the wheel during turns, simulating a limited-slip differential.
Brake vectoring allows for a better distribution of torque, and therefore, more grip. Most of the time, the system works seamlessly, meaning you won’t feel it operating at all. All you experience when driving in slippery conditions are the results.
3. Electronic Limited-Slip Differentials
Mechanical Limited-Slip Differentials (LSD) are a proven technology that works well, but there is room for improvement.
High-performance electric differentials are the future because they are better able to handle different road conditions with appropriate amounts of slippage control. Depending on where you are in a corner, they can lock, unlock, and send power to a designated wheel that needs it most.
4. Dual-Clutch Transmissions
For car jocks, nothing beats the feeling of shifting gears yourself. Problem is that if you get a car with an old-fashioned stick shift, many of your friends and family are not going to be able to drive it. Enter the Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT).
DCTs shifts are like an automatic but seamless and lightning quick. They take most of the hard work and, sadly, fun out of manuals.
5. Magnetic Ride Control
There’s a new type of suspension system on the road and it’s smart. Unlike the suspensions of yesteryear, Magnetic Adaptive Suspensions (MAS) uses a magnetic fluid that stiffens and softens based on the amount of electricity pulsing through it. Developed by General Motors, it’s incredibly clever and used on a lot of high-end performance cars, even from the likes of Ferrari.
6. Radar Cruise Control
Radar-based adaptive systems function just like regular cruise controls and maintain a car’s speed on the highway. However, they kick things up a notch by utilizing front-mounted lasers that detect the cars in front and adjust the speed accordingly to maintain a safe driving distance.
Go with radar cruise control when given the option.
7. Exterior Cameras
Backup cameras are required on all passenger cars sold in the US starting May 1st, 2018, which means you’ll have at least one camera in your new car whether you like it or not.
Cameras make parking and maneuvering through tight spaces a whole lot easier and safer for everyone. Some models even us intelligent algorithms to allow you to back up trailers like a pro.
5 Cool New Car Features To Have Today
We are living like kings and queens in today’s automotive world.
Like a bunch of spoiled brats, we continue to be showered with new technological breakthroughs that take convenience to a whole new level. In this article, we look at five car features that have gained prominence over the past few decades.
These are car features you probably can no longer live without.
1. Head -Up Displays (HUD)
Virtually all new cars today have LCD panels in the dash as part of broader infotainment system, allowing you to control certain vehicular functions, play music, navigate, or see your rear view camera. Problem is, you often have to take your eyes off the road to access the controls and see the necessary data.
Head-up displays are increasingly sought-after and address that issue by showing certain features directly on your windshield, effectively reducing the risk of accidents. They can be had in cars as lowly as a Mazda 3 to opulence on wheels like the Mercedes S-Class.
According to our tech consultant at King Chevrolet (Longmont, CO), modern head-up display systems can project information such as speed, incoming and outgoing calls, turn-by-turn navigation, radio, and media information onto the windshield just below your line of sight. You can select which vehicle information to show as well as adjust the vertical position and brightness of the display.
2. Heated Steering Wheels
We are going to guess that you know what heated seats are. Yes, they are a bit indulgent, but on really cold days, you count your blessings that your seats warm up.
How about heated steering wheels? As with heated seats, it’s a pleasure to feel heat emanating from your cars steering wheel on cold days. No more wearing bulky gloves when driving in the sub-freezing temperatures.
3. Massaging Seats
Unless you have a phobia of malls (Is that a thing?), you’ve visited a Brookstone store and seen the rolling shiatsu chair massage. Perhaps you have even sat in one and thought “This feels great” as the rolling massage wheels run up and down your spine.
Well, there are quite a few cars today that have massage seats in them. Mercedes-Benz was one of the first to make it a common feature across its entire lineup, branding it “hot stone massage.” Once you experience quality messaging seats in a car, you’ll want every car you drive to have them.
4. Ventilated Seats
Just like having the peace of mind of being blessed with car seats that heat up on cold days, there’s no better feeling than hopping into a ventilated seat on a hot day.
Ventilated seats have small fans underneath to keep occupants cool until the AC kicks in. They can be really nice on scalding hot days when you want everything you touch to be cool.
5. Radar Cruise Control
Normal cruise control is nice, but radar-based adaptive cruise control is even better. These systems function just like regular cruise controls and maintain a car’s speed on the highway, but they also feature front-mounted lasers that sense the cars in front of you and adjust your speed accordingly to maintain a set distance.
Radar cruise control makes congested highway cruising a whole lot less stressful, don’t you think?
You Won’t Need Car Keys With Hyundai’s Smart Fingerprint Tech
Not only can the technology unlock your car doors using nothing more than your finger tip, but it’s also able to start the engine.
Hyundai has unveiled a new smart fingerprint technology that lets drivers control various functions of their car with their fingerprint.
Placing your finger on a sensor located on the door handle lets you unlock the doors, while simply touching the ignition — it’s equipped with a fingerprint scanning sensor — starts the vehicle. The encrypted fingerprint information is identified and processed by an on-board fingerprint controller.
Considering that most vehicles are often driven by more than one driver, Hyundai’s smart fingerprint technology can easily recognize different drivers and automatically adjust the interior to their preset preferences, including seating position, mirror angle and connected car features.
The technology premiers in the latest Hyundai Santa Fe in early 2019, but only in select markets.