As a general trend, vehicle sound quality has significantly improved in recent years. This is primarily due to improved body structure and powertrain design. As demand for better vehicle sound quality increases, it is important to study all possible noise sources contributing to noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). Tire vibration has long been recognized as a source of airborne noise. Some effects of wheel design on tire noise have also been well understood for sometime. But the dynamic interaction between tire and wheel designs and its effect on vehicle NVH, although frequently observed for many years, has only recently been identified in the 200–350 Hz frequency range. Different wheels can produce perceptible differences in vehicle interior sound pressure levels in a road test. Hence, the authors have developed a process to quantify and reduce noise caused by a vibrating tire/wheel assembly.
This paper discusses the general flow of the process, which begins with the identification of NVH issues on a total vehicle level. Modeling and optimization of the aluminum wheel was chosen as the focus of this project for two reasons. First, the interior sound pressure level (SPL) around 285 Hz is about 5–7 dBA higher in a vehicle equipped with aluminum wheels rather than a steel design. Second, modifying the wheel is far more economical and faster due to its simplicity of design than the complexity of either the vehicle body structure or a tire.