Dear Car Talk:
Our 2016 Subaru Forester is the noisiest car I’ve ever driven. And I’ve been herding cars down the road for 60 years. We hear road noise, wind noise, even cabin fan noise. It makes our ears roar on the highway.
Would it help to install additional weather-stripping around the doors, rear hatch and hood? I’m willing to try anything. -- William
RAY: You’re willing to try anything, William? How about leasing a new Lexus?
Additional weather-stripping is not going to work. There’s really no room for more weather-stripping around the doors. It’s designed to seal tightly, and if you add additional material, your doors won’t close.
If you think it’s noisy in your Forester now, William, try driving with the doors open. Plus, weather-stripping is only one small component in making a car quieter. There’s the mass of the car; more mass absorbs road noise. There’s the amount of sound-deadening material around the passenger compartment. There’s thicker, “quiet” glass that can be used. And there’s even noise cancelation technology that can be introduced through the car’s audio system.
Then there are the aerodynamics of the car. The more easily it “slips” through the air, the better your mileage and the less wind noise it produces. All of that stuff is done in the engineering and design process. So there’s nothing you can do now to change or add those things.
So what can you do? Well, first, have your mechanic check for bad wheel bearings. These Foresters are famous for that. A bad wheel bearing will sound like there’s a garbage truck following you everywhere. The noise also can sneak up on you over time, because it gets a little worse and a little louder each day. Then suddenly, you notice that your wife, in the passenger seat, can no longer hear any of your crackpot ideas. Bad wheel bearings also can be dangerous, so check that first.
Another thing that might help is newer and better tires. Do some research. If you go to tirerack.com, you can get a of list of tires recommended for your Forester. If you click on their ratings, under “comfort ratings,” you’ll find a noise rating, too.
Just browsing now, the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus II gets the best rating for noise. And if your tires are old and wearing out, good-quality, new tires could make a real difference in terms of road noise.
The other thing you can do is remove the cross bars from the roof rack that you never use. Roof racks, bicycle carriers and things like that add a lot of wind noise.
You also might make an appointment with your audiologist, William, just to be sure that it’s not your hearing that’s changed rather than your Subaru. In the best-case scenario, they’ll tell you that you need hearing aids. Then you can turn them off when you’re driving the Forester.
Dwindling choices but some good news for coupe fans
Dear Car Talk:
I’ve always thought two-door cars, or “coupes,” look great. To me, a four-door “sedan” looks like a brick on wheels.
My first car, in 1965, was a 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS. A gift from my aunt, it wasn’t a muscle car, yet the overall “look” of the car was beautiful. Since then, every car I’ve owned has been a coupe. In 2003, it was time to turn in my Nissan Sentra coupe for a new one. To my disappointment, my dealer told me the Sentra was no longer available in a coupe.
I went to a nearby Honda dealer and bought a 2003 Honda Accord coupe. Since then, I’ve owned three Honda Accord coupes. I always buy an extended, seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty. When the warranty is close to expiration, I buy a new car.
In 2016, I went to my Honda dealer and was told that Honda also had discontinued the two-door Accord. Rather than change brands again, I decided to keep my 2009 Honda EXL Accord coupe. It only has 67,000 miles and was always well cared for. But looking ahead, are there any car manufacturers that currently offer two-door coupes in a medium to full size vehicle like the Accord?
Why have most of the major car manufacturers discontinued two-door coupes? -- Tom
Why have manufacturers stopped making two-door cars? Because people started having kids.
For most people, it’s really inconvenient to have to wedge your way into the back seat of a coupe, despite how much fun it is to watch your mother-in-law try to do it. So there’s lack of demand; there’s a limited universe of people who will even consider two-door cars.
The other problem with selling coupes is that they are bought by people who really value style. And style changes. Quickly. See also: fashion industry.
So if a manufacturer spends half a billion dollars to develop a coupe, when it first comes out, it’s the hottest thing on the market and it sells well. But a year later, someone else’s coupe is the latest thing, and your coupe sits on the lot. And the automotive business is based on being able to sell the same basic car for five to eight years to recoup the cost of development and tooling.
So the coupes on the market now fall into two categories. They’re either small sports cars (Toyota Supra, Porsche Cayman, Mazda Miata) or luxury coupes for orthodontists who just ran off with their hygienists (Audi A5, BMW 4-Series, Infiniti Q60 coupe).
The mildly good news for you, Tom, is that you’re not the only one who likes the look of coupes. So the latest trend in sedans is “four-door-coupe” styling. Yeah, the name makes no sense, but the idea is to build a four-door car that has the silhouette and raked rear roofline of a coupe. Modern manufacturing has made it a little easier to disguise the rear doors by using thinner and blacked out B-pillars.
If you go online and look at, say, the VW Arteon, Audi A5 Sportback or the BMW 4-Series Grand Coupe, or even the current Honda Accord, and squint, you’ll see what I mean. Maybe you can find one of those you like and can afford. And then duct tape the rear doors closed so you don’t accidentally convenience yourself. Good luck, Tom.
Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.
About the Author