We hate to break it to you but some of those really satisfying car sounds such as the purr of the engine or the wholesome clunk of the closing car door are manufactured – that is, the noise is not simply a by-product of their function but a purposefully engineered attempt to sound ‘good’. Below we explode some acoustic-based myths about our four-wheeled friends.
The satisfying clunk of the car door
Around 15 years ago, car safety requirements meant extra bars had to be placed in the side doors. To compensate for the extra weight, they needed to make other parts of the car lighter including the catches and door mechanisms. However, this resulted in a very tinny sound when you closed one of the doors.
Trevor Cox, professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford told the BBC,
“What manufacturers realised is when you go to see a car in a showroom you don’t hear the engine first. What you hear is the sound of the door opening and the sound of the door closing. It’s a really important first impression sound.”
So, they set about artificially creating the satisfying clunk that had been lost by introducing dampeners into the door cavity to muffle the tinny effect. Engineers also altered the locking mechanism to create the original click we’ve become so accustomed to.
The Purr of the Engine
We hate to break it to all those vehicular audiophiles who love nothing better than to listen to the purr and roar of their favourite car engines, but they are not always real.
Many modern cars have become increasingly fuel efficient and therefore quieter. Worried that this would put off car lovers, many manufacturers have rigged up clever ways to boost or synthesise the sound.
From BMW to Ford all reputable car manufacturers are at it. While some companies boost the actual sounds of the engine through special pipes, other manufacturers have taken it a step further. The BMW M5 for example, replicates the engine noise inside the car through thestereo system!
Click click goes the indicator
While you may think the clicking sound of the indicator is there to remind you to turn it off once you’ve done the necessary manoeuvre, it is in fact just a by-product of indicatorengineering. Essentially, it is the noise of the metal contacts and coiled spring inside the dashboard electrics which are activated to make indicator lights switch on and off.