Can road noise from tires be responsible for drowning out the radio on my 2002 Camry or is another problem more likely? How does one go about choosing quiet tires?
Before you do anything rash, let’s make sure what the problem is.
First, make a mental note of where you think the noise is coming from. Tire noise is generally more front or more rear.
Then do a tire rotation.
If the noise changes the front/rear location thing or the volume or pitch changes, then the problem is likely irregular wear, which is caused by misalignment and aggravated by insufficient inflation pressure and insufficient rotation practices. In this case you need an alignment.
If the noise stays the same, then may be more quiet tires will help - but may be not. Some cars just don’t have a lot of sound insulation.
Tires can make a lot of noise, especially if they are worn unevenly. There are many other noise sources on a car, however, so it’s difficult to say the tires are at fault without more information.
The tires on one of my cars make enough noise that listening to the radio at highway speed is not pleasant. I have to turn it up too loud, so I usually just leave it off. Around town it’s not a problem, and the tires I currently have are much quieter than the original equipment tires.
The best way to compare tires for noise is to read owner comments at sites such as TireRack.com, or to check the ratings in Consumer Reports.
Camrys are known for being quiet cars, so you want to consider tire noise when you replace the tires.
If any of your tires are worn down to the treadwear indicators, tire noise is not surprising. It is not clear to me why they should get noisier when the tread hits that depth, but they seem to.
If you need tires, we replaced a very noisy set of Continentals with Michelin Pilot Sport All Seasons. Not cheap, but we really like them. Silent on all road surfaces, excellent traction and ride, and they look really cool.
Have you tried turning the radio off to see if the noise is coming from elsewhere?
There are many other noise sources on a car, however, so it’s difficult to say the tires are at fault without more information.
Try removing your mother-in-law from the back seat…
As other have suggested just go to Consumer Reports and look at their objective noise tests of tires. Some tires (especially with aggressive treads) are much noiser than others.
Also, don’t shop by price, but instead shop by quality. Lots of the inexpensive tires will either wear poorly or not perform as well as other brands. Look to good companies like Goodyear, Michelin, Dunlop, Pirelli, Toyo, etc.