Soundproofing tactics from the INSIDE of the car.
It’s up to you how far you want to go. In my opinion. Don’t do it the lazy way. Once you’ve already opened up a part of your car, go the whole mile. It’s a lot of work involved, I know. You can do it in parts and go as you’re comfortable. Start with only one area, and then do more if you feel comfortable.
In case you’re wondering, soundproofing a whole car can take you a month. I took about 3-4 weeks total and anywhere between 150-200 hours of time. Of course, some things could have been faster.
- Taking things apart is very easy and fast. Trunk and back seat area 30-60 mins, floor below the seats (which includes all the trim) 2-3 hours.
- Putting in the soundproofing material will easily take weeks depending on how perfect you want it to be. Applying CLD is very easy (maybe 1 or 2 days if you add it all up). Cleaning off old CLD can be a couple hours.
- The part takes the longest is measuring and cutting the MLV and foam. Thing is CLD needs only 25-50% coverage to be effective. But MLV needs as close to a 100% barrier to really block out sound. For that reason, you’ll be spending tons of time trying to figure out how to mold it around all the contours and structural beams in your car. The good news is that I already struggled with it and took pictures of my toughest areas for you to study from. 🙂
- Putting it all back together is easy enough. Probably 1 day for everything, if even that much. I promise it’ll seem fun and fast since you’ll be excited to be finally finished.
- Tesla Model 3 Performance with soundproofing Bjorn Nyland Youtube
- Want Quiet Tires? Look For These Features Les Schwab
- Sound Deadener Showdown – comprehensive resource on soundproofing
- Understanding STC and STC Ratings Soundproofing Company Inc
- How-To [soundproof your car] RaaMAudio
- Sound dampener (50-65% coverage tops) – Damplifier Pro. Why this one and not the other brands? Because it has great reviews (thin but high-density rubber content) and also because I tried it myself.
- CCF (decoupling) & MLV (sound blocking) – Luxury Liner Pro (100% coverage) – It works great and conveniently combines CCF & MLV layers together so you don’t have to do more work installing them separately.
- Open-cell foam (sound absorbing) – super lightweight.
- HVAC aluminum tape ($15) – seal seams between layers of MLV so they don’t shift and create air-gaps for sound to leak through, or just for taping down edges of things. (Want to go crazy? Get lead foil tape.) I bought it but didn’t even need it. The nearby soundproofing store recommended for me to juse use some black “seam tape” which looked a lot like electrical tape. It worked fine but you can use HVAC as well if you like.
- Industrial strength velcro strips – needed for high-temperature use. Many people recommend this so you can remove and reattach your soundproofing layers in case you ever need to repair your car. I found it totally unnecessary. It’s only needed if you’re working on your door or around other commonly accessed areas. Really, there might only be 2-3 places in your car that might benefit from there. Not worth it at all. Just apply your layers and then tear off later and re-apply if you need to do car repairs.
How much soundproofing material to buy:
Some of you are gonna be overwhelmed by the amount of soundproofing materials available and some may or may not be in your area. I will tell you EXACTLY how much you need and why and where to get it! Total cost is around $600-700.
- 20 sq ft of CLD – you could probably get by with only 16sqft. Btw, this is already included if you’re getting the Compact Car Package from Second Skin Audio. You don’t need to cover the whole car, just only 25-50% of the noisy flat sheets of metal. The kit I just linked to gives you almost double of what you need.
- 36 sq ft of MLV & CCF combined – the best on the market (and also at a great price) is the Luxury Liner Pro from Second Skin Audio. Yeah, it’s so much cheaper if you buy those layers separate but trust me it ain’t worth it. The amount of hassle to measure, cut, and adhere 2 layers instead of 1 is literally double the work if not more. Why? Because not only are you working with more layers but because CCF is often the one that should be placed first, and it’s kind of weak…which makes it harder for it to be strong enough to bond with the MLV afterwards. Don’t be stupid, ok? Just buy them combined and thank me later. You’re literally saving yourself 2 weeks of agonizing work if not more. I highly recommend the “Compact Car Package” from Second Skin Audio. I am so SOOOOO glad I didn’t scheme of saving money. One of the best decisions ever.
- 10 feet of 48″ or 54″ 1lb MLV (should be 1/8″ thick) – it’s heavy as heck. Do not order online as most of the cost will come from shipping rather than from the product itself. Look up a local store and buy from there.
- 3 feet of 48″ or 54″ CCF (1/8″ thick) – you’ll need some of this to stuff into a few places that make rattle noise.
- Acoustic foam 4-6 cubic feet worth – this is just extra but something I wish I did. You can cut or fold it into little chunks and stuff it around the wheel wells to absorb more noise.
Work tools (you probably already have):
- Work gloves ($5-15) – so you don’t cut yourself with the sharp CLD. You can buy any cheap ones from nearby hardware store. Honestly, I was fine working even without gloves and I only cut myself like 2-3 times. Just be careful!
- Wooden roller ($8) – to press the CLD tightly onto the panels. Some people prefer metal rollers (heavier, and with the ridges) because they press the material down better and don’t slip but some have fears that the ridges can cut through the foil backing. I chose to be safe and go with the same thing SecondSkinAudio sells, which is wooden rollers. They sell wider ones or metal ones out there and here’s why I don’t recommend them. Wider ones might not fit in areas where you need a smaller one. Also the metal ones are kind of risky because they can scratch your car. As long as you’re careful you’re fine.
- Sharp utility knife ($10-20) – get a high quality one with multiple blades. Sometimes, you’ll cut with the knife. Other times you’re trimming with a blade right in your hand.
- Tape measure ($10) – because you’ll be doing tons of measuring before your cut the layers.
- Mechanic tool seat ($25-60) – for opening up screws, nuts, bolts, etc. Make sure you have a rachet!
- Torx set ($10-20) – will be needed for the bolts around your seats.
Soundproofing products NOT TO GET (and why):
- Aerosol rubber spray – waste of time. Not as effective (since the nozzles are too small to pass through enough rubber particles), may also smell bad. There’s also the issue about them being a huge risk of rust (even though they claim to protect against it).
- Soundproof paint – meant for high-frequency noise, not low-frequency (that cars make). Also requires many coats and on both sides, not ideal for car application.
- Alcohol (denatured) – some people recommend this for cleaning panels and what not. And they like alcohol instead of water since it dries/evaporates faster. I personally don’t even recommend it. Just gonna make a mess and I didn’t need it.
- Tesa Tape ($15) – to tape around loose wires and/or secure them to panels so they don’t move around. I didn’t need this. Everything inside Tesla’s are strapped down pretty well already.
- Butyl rope ($15) – stick around fasteners or edges of rattling parts. You really won’t need this at all whatsoever. I used maybe 2 tiny globs of it throughout the entire car.
- HH-66 vinyl cement ($15) – used to bond MLV to other stuff (like CCF or other surfaces/materials). I didn’t use or need this at all. You may like it for its strength but I preferred the double-sided tape for a cleaner job and no risk of spilling sticky liquids in my car.
- Floor mats claiming to be soundproof – don’t be fooled by silly claims. Those materials are so thin and don’t cover enough of your floor to really block out sound.
- Liners for top of trunk or frunk – more silly claims. Most of your noise comes from the wind and road, and neither of these block them from entering your car.
- Call a nearby Tesla service center, and get their parts department email. This is so you can quickly order replacement parts. I stripped some screws and damaged some other small parts. It was really handy to email for prices beforehand and pick up in person.
- Don’t touch anything orange! (orange cables, orange shields, etc) They indicate high voltage and very dangerous!
- Believe it or not, Tesla tear down and re-assembly is really easy. It’s cutting/applying the layers that’ll eat up your time. I promise you won’t mess up your car.
- Easiest/fastest way to pry clips – use edge of U-hook to pop the clip up, then place the U-hook under the clip button to lift it fully, then put U-hook under the bottom edge of clip to pick it out. If black clips don’t come off after lifting the top, try prying from the bottom edge as well! Don’t over-force the top or they might break.
- If you’re prying at something and it doesn’t release, study the part images on eBay to see where the clips/attachments are.
- There are some people selling copies of the service manual on Tesla forums. In my opinion, you really don’t need it. It was useless for me; time-consuming to navigate through and figure out what you have to do (instructions lead you back and forth zigzagging all over the place). I swear, you’ll be faster just figuring out on your own than by navigating through the service manual. Also, the copy I got was missing a few areas anyway!
- Don’t worry so much. I’ll explain everything so it’s easy, I promise!
PHASE 1 – trunk and back seat removal
Why do we start with the trunk? Because it’s a highly-effective area to soundproof, easy to get to and still allows your car to be driveable so you can make runs to the hardware store when you realize you need to buy more tools, parts, etc.
The trunk area is easy, has lots of space to work in and get familiar with your car. It’s also low-risk since you won’t be damaging any areas that are easily seen. Once you get all the trunk liner out, feel free to go for a drive and you’ll realize how much noise comes from the rear of the car. The motor is behind the driver’s ears making the high-pitch whine. The back wheels and suspension pick up so much road noise which then echo all over the trunk and passed through the rear seats.
Due to the common car design of having the subwoofer in the trunk, you can’t soundproof the rear seat-backs…since that would also block out the subwoofer. So your best bet is to soundproof downwards towards the floor and wheels.
The flimsy quarter panels also make a tin-can sound when you knock on them. Those are great places to put some CLD. Most of your hardest work will be figuring out how to put soundblocking MLV and LLP (Luxury Liner Pro) all around the curves of wheel wheels and rear seats. I almost wanted to quit the project several times but eventually calmed down and found ways to tackle it one area at a time. Be calm and don’t get overwhelmed. Try to imagine all oddly-shaped areas in simpler geometric shapes.
- How to Sound Deaden Car Interior – VBL #7 – CarAudioFabrication (video)
- Model 3 Center Trim Removal (video) – Roshan Lynch
- More Tesla Model 3 details (part 3), rear seat removal and looking behind the trunk lining tech forum – great break down of pulling out trunk and rear seats
- Remove rear seat cushion
- MORE NOISE FIX – TESLA MODEL 3 + TAILGATE PREMIUM SOUND (video) – FrostyFingers
- Tesla Parts Catalog (official) – use this to find names of parts to look up info, attachment locations, or to order from Tesla.
Remove trunk trim and compartment liner:
- Remove bottom trunk lid over bottom compartment.
- Plastic piece on trunk-edge – simply lift/pry it straight up.
- Bottom compartment liner – pry off 4 fasteners on the edge (with flat-head screwdriver or trim removal tool), then carefully peel at the velcro on the side and back edges.
- Remove plastic trim from trunk-lid – remove 2 clips (one on each side), then pull straight down.
Back seat removal:
- There are 2 clips under the middle of rear-left and rear-right seats. Push the clips towards driver seat and seats release.
- Lift front of seats up and pull them forward a few inches.
- Disconnect clips on both sides of the seats. (Squeeze the little white clip latch to release.) Now you can take out the rear seat bottom-cushions.
- Fold back seats down.
- Pull out the rear sidewall cushions (pull bottom part upwards, and rest should come out).
- Unscrew the 2 nuts on each side, lift out rear seat back-cushions.
- Also remove the 4 black structural support bars under the back seats. (some have 2 nuts, some have 1 nut and 2 bolts)
Remove trunk liner (inside rear & sides):
- remove 2 trunk clips (one by front of each wheel well) and also the 2 big square-clips (one on each side, pointing into the cabin). NOTE: when putting back the square clips, remember that the it slants downwards when putting them back in
- lift the rear of the side-lining and disconnect the wire clips (behind the lights), then remove side lining
- remove 4 clips, then inside lining. it may be easier if you take the side-lining with the plastic brackets at the same time
- 1 long nut/bolt in the back, 1 nut/washer on the lower side and another on the upper side but deep into the panel
- disconnect the black speaker clip right near the top of speaker by the trunk opening
- swing the speaker out just enough so your hand can reach back there, don’t try to take the speaker all the way out (the cables are too short)…instead, just put a box or something in the lower trunk compartment so the speaker has something to rest on without stressing the cables.
- I do think you should disconnect the 3 cables in back of the speaker while you work…because I saw some sparks while I was moving it around.
Now we have beautiful full access to the inside of the rear surface areas. Knock on all the different sheets of metal and we have tons of opportunity to shut out that noise!
PHASE 2 – floor and trim removal
The floor of the Tesla is like a freaken drum. Just knock on rear seat floor and listen to that loud bang sound. Drive down a bumpy highway and it sounds like somebody playing a serious game of Halo just downstairs.
Rear corner door sill trim:
- lift straight up
Removing front seats & seatbelt A-pillar floor trim:
- A-pillar trim is easy. reach under the weather stripping and pry from 2 front corners, then 2 back corners.
- remove 4 bolts from the rails on each seat. don’t disconnect any cables under the seats, we will leave the seats in place and simply rock them back and forth to work on rear and front!
- remove 4 clips from bottom lid/floor speaker of passenger seat. disconnect clip for light and small speaker (note that these clips are smaller)
Remove door sill trim pieces:
- pry out the small trim next to glove compartment
- remove clip, and pull front door sill inwards (away from the door)
- B-pillar floor trim – remove clip, then pull inwards (away from doors)
- Pry off the center console side-wall lining – PASSENGER SIDE, start from the front-top edge right under the glove compartment and pull it out. There’s a clip every 5-6 inches at the top part and then every 2-3 inches where it tapers down at the bottom. DRIVER SIDE, start from the front pointy end right by the driver side. will have to use your trim tool. pry one clip at a time. it might be easier to just slide your trim tool there and then turn it sideways (using it’s width) to release the clips.
Front passenger floor removal:
- Remove 2 clips from front (one on each side).
- It may seem stuck under the center console trim, don’t worry just pull it out (pulling the inside-edge forward helped for me).
Driver floor removal:
- Remove 3 clips (two by the console, one by the front door sill).
- Can also remove the plate above the drivers footwell. 2 clips and one screw. Also have to disconnect the 2 wires (one is for the light, and the other I assume is for diagnostic tool connection).
- Then you can pull the floor out. it may seem stuck around the dead pedal. if it helps, you can pull the dead pedal out (just lift straight up). And also run your fingers along the left side to nudge the stiff foam out around the wires.
Rear floor removal:
- remove 2 clips by back seats to lift up back of carpet
- then disconnect clips on side
- just lift up and pull BACK (towards rear of car). it may seem stuck under the center console but it isn’t.
PHASE 3 – installing MLV and CCF
Now that you’ve got everything torn open, it’s time to put in our soundproofing layers. You’re welcome to deviate from my strategy and do what you feel makes sense to you. Or if you don’t have any opinion about it, you can just copy what I did.
Everywhere that you think can fit LLP, put that since it would probably block more sound. For everywhere else, put MLV. Try to have 100% coverage with no holes or open seams. I’ve heard that as much as 1″ opening can sound as if you had no soundproofing done at all. It’s like a window. To really shut out noise, you have to completely close it; leaving even a tiny opening can sound almost as loud as if the window was fully open.
I applied most of the LLP and MLV using the double-sided tape. You can work from any area that you prefer. Some of you may want to do the front areas of the car first so you can drive it sooner. Others may prefer to do the flatter areas first (since they’re easier) or curved areas first (since they’re harder). Or if you’re like me: you’ll work from the most difficult areas (using sunlight) during the day. And then the more easily-accessed at night (using portable lighting). You might also get tired or frustrated at some areas and just switch tasks while brainstorming ways to get around difficult areas. Anyway…it’s like a giant puzzle figuring how things fit together.
By the end of this, you will definitely know your car inside and out. Hahahah! Enjoy and good luck!
- Knock on panels before applying CLD, to see if there’s an echo-ey sound (like a drum), then touch the panel with some pressure using your other hand and knock on it again. If you hear a big difference when putting pressure with your other hand, it’s probably a good idea to put some CLD.
- When laying CLD, try to contour it to the ridges and curves so that you don’t have to work so hard later rolling it down. Don’t just throw it flat down on top of everything.
- When installing MLV, it’s best to cut a little too big and then attach it, and then trim down in place.
- Old CLD removal – you might have seem some videos online that show quick-and-easy ways to get rid of old factory CLD. I tried some and none of them worked; only made a mess and delayed my work. Just take your time with one of the trim removal tools and you’ll pry it off soon enough.
PHASE 4 – trim
Do you feel like you have sounds leaking through your trim pieces and pillar areas? Just open them right up again and put some MLV or LLP in there. For those with regular cars that have a covered-up ceiling, you’ll have to put hydrophobic melamine foam (HMF) instead up there since MLV would be too heavy to adhere. HMF does well to absorb sound and also used in vans a lot since it’s cheaper and buying enough to cover the whole van won’t break the bank.
PHASE 5 – doors
Most other cars usually start soundproofing with the doors because it’s effective (best effort-to-results ratio) and much more manageable than than tearing out your car interior. You can do it in small chunks at a time and still be able to drive your car later that day. It’s also a good chance to practice your sound deadening skills and get familiar before removing the bigger and more intensive car trim and panels, etc. It’s also cheaper and who knows, maybe these results are so good that you don’t need to do any more.
But for Teslas, I don’t think you even need to do the doors. I didn’t even bother opening mine up. When I knock on the metal from the outside, it sounds like they already had a decent amount of soundproofing. Yes, you can feel it and hear it. Sure, you’re welcome to explore further but I think it isn’t where most of the noise comes from and not worth the effort.
- Car Door Sound Deadening Strategies Second Skin Audio – incredible explanation of car door soundproofing.
- Model 3 Door Panel Removal and Reinstallation LivingTesla (video) – shows how to open up the door panel easily.
- Another door panel removal video
- Tesla Model 3 body line dent removal DENT HERO – nice view of door cut out.
- Sound Deadening Model 3 Doors by SD Tesla (video) – he didn’t reach the big flat panel of the door. Not as effective IMO.
- Tesla Model 3 Replace Rear Window and Remove Door Panel stilweezy – great detailed view of clips and cable connections
What steps I would take:
- CLD sheet on the inside of the outer skin.
- Butyl rope on beams (leaving gaps every few inches for water to drain).
- Put layer of CCF and MLV between the door inside skin and trim panel.