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Fixing a noise problem by taking the low road on purpose


I used to take the highway all the time. Not-so much now.

I've always been the type of guy that drives in silence. Rarely do I listen to the radio or play music. The only thing I hear is engine noise, wind, tires rolling and my GPS periodically giving instructions. And where the phone is concerned, I don't use that while driving. I never got used to that, which is for the best.

Recently, I made a decision to avoid using the highway for safety reasons, but there are two nice things about doing that I didn't expect.

First, it's actually fun weaving around little residential side streets at slow speeds. I see a lot of stuff I don't see on the highway, and figuring out how to get places with all those twists and turns makes the drive a lot more interesting.

Second is the lack of noise. I've come to realize that road noise from the highway was actually really bothering me.

Only a complete moron would say to roll up the windows or turn the stereo up to "fix" a noise problem while driving. Yes, there are idiots who actually believe that drowning out noise with more noise is a proper solution. An idiot believes sacrificing getting fresh air in the car and assaulting your ears instead is A-OK. It's not.

I was putt-putting around a residential area the other day with the windows rolled down, and then I realized hey, I'm not being assaulted by irritating sounds. I even heard birds singing here and there. How nice.

If you ever wanted to know why almost nobody drives on the highway with the windows down, it's the noise. It doesn't matter what kind of car you have. You could have a brand new Cadillac or Lexus or whatever with less than 100 miles on the odometer that's whisper-quiet with the windows up. But if you're on the highway, want a fast way to get fresh air and open the windows, yeah, noise. And a lot of it.

Here's a little secret I learned from hypermiling to save gas by not using A/C: If you're in a four-door car driving solo, it's hot outside and you want to cool down, don't immediately turn on the A/C. Open the driver's window about 1/4 of the way down and the rear passenger window also 1/4 of the way down. This creates a stream of air through the car that will cool you without even having to turn the A/C on or even the fans. As long as you're moving, you're getting that air...

...but on the highway this results in getting assaulted by road noise.

On the slower roads I can use the air stream trick, stay cool and not have noise blasting at my ears. On the highway, not really. Too loud.

If you can, try taking slower roads, roll the windows down (weather permitting), and enjoy.

Published 2024 Mar 7

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