Monday, June 13, 2005

Noise, Vibration and Harshness

Over the weekend, I gave a little attention to a problem my car has been having for months. The problem was a pair of loose heat shields. There was really no problem with the functioning of the car. The problem was that at certain RPM ranges and levels of engine load, the heat shields would resonate quite loudly. It sounded a bit like a drumroll on a trash can. It was getting worse too. It would make the noise more often and more loudly. After a little ingenuity and a trip to the Home Despot for some parts, however, it seems to be practically silent.

On my way to work today, I was astonished by what a difference the lack of noise made to the driving experience. Where before I was constantly concerned with how much noise it was making and how to keep it quiet by varying my shifting and throttling, it now seems almost strangely quiet. It's like a different car. It's a treat to climb a hill and not be concerned that my car sounds like a giant junk heap. Driving the car, it almost seems smoother, although I keep reminding myself that I didn't really make any mechanical changes. Maybe I'm too concerned about appearance, or too concerned about disturbing others. I guess I just like to think that I'm driving a nice car and not a rattling junk heap. I guess this is why auto makers put so many resources into making their cars quiet. It seems pretty superficial, and maybe it is, but the psychological effect is pretty profound.


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