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Old 03-06-2007, 07:59 PM   #1
Gwenzilla
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Attention High speed noise problem

On my way to work today I had the first opportunity to drive with the windows down while on the freeway and was very distrubed to experience a very, very loud vibrating noise throughout the cabin. It sounded like a helicopter was in the vehicle ! I was really frightened by the severity of the vibration and noise. I am not sure what was causing it but it appeared to be the back lift gate, at least that was the only thing I could glimpse through the rear view mirror. It immediately ceased when I rolled the windows up.
I checked the lift gate when I got to my destination and it appeared to be quite well secured.
I have driven with the widow down in town before and did not notice any substantial noise at city speeds. However the highway speed noise with even one rear window down was bad, with both rear windows down it was crazy loud.
Has anyone else had this experience? I kinda like being able to drive with the windows down in summer, but not if I have to put up with this.
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Many vehicles experience this kind of buffeting wind turbulence when only the rear windows are down. I don't know why it happens. My current MDX exhibits this behavior. It does not happen if a front window is also down.

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Old 03-06-2007, 09:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

The same thing happened with my VUE. If I tried to drive with the rear windows down I would have the same noise, but if I put the passenger window down, the noise would disappear. Nothing was ever wrong.
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Old 03-06-2007, 10:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwenzilla View Post
On my way to work today I had the first opportunity to drive with the windows down while on the freeway and was very distrubed to experience a very, very loud vibrating noise throughout the cabin. It sounded like a helicopter was in the vehicle ! I was really frightened by the severity of the vibration and noise. I am not sure what was causing it but it appeared to be the back lift gate, at least that was the only thing I could glimpse through the rear view mirror. It immediately ceased when I rolled the windows up.
I checked the lift gate when I got to my destination and it appeared to be quite well secured.
I have driven with the widow down in town before and did not notice any substantial noise at city speeds. However the highway speed noise with even one rear window down was bad, with both rear windows down it was crazy loud.
Has anyone else had this experience? I kinda like being able to drive with the windows down in summer, but not if I have to put up with this.
Uh oh. I too heard that flap tap tapping vibration, the only time my daughter, sitting in the second row, rolled down the window. Only one window was down (second row) when I got the vibration. Could this be a major design catastrophe completely missed by GM?

Omigod, could we early buyers turn out to be the laughingstocks of America?
...
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Kjf is correct, it seems. It's a particular problem with SUVs. This is my first SUV, so I was unaware of it until now. I did some Googling and found similar "complaints" about Toyoty 4Runners, Honda CR-Vs, Nissan Muranos, some model years of the Tahoe/Yukons, even the Toyota Prius!

Apparently it's caused by air getting trapped inside the car from the rear windows, bouncing off the rear hatch window and having no way to escape. As Kjf said, most of the messages I read said if the front windows are lowered the problem diminishes significantly and sometimes goes away completely because the rebounding air escapes out the front windows.

I did notice that the vibration was not nearly as bad with the front window only down (second row windows up). On my Outlook, the vibration is horrible with only rear windows down, even as slow as 40-45 mph. It's undriveable. I haven't tried lowering the front windows, after dropping the second row windows, to see if that does in fact alleviate the problem, but I will try it tomorrow on the way to work.

Maybe I sounded the alarm prematurely. I guess this is something we have to get used to; i.e., driving with the second row windows up. I don't mind. Driving with a window or windows down kills your gas mileage because of increased drag, if you drive that way for long periods. Then again, air conditioning eats up your fuel. LOL. Can't win either way, I guess.
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

This is a very common problem among SUVs. Our 2005 Equinox exhibited this behavior terribly. The dealer explained that it has something to do with the open expanse of interior space, particularly the cargo area not being closed off as in a sedan. I'm sure there's a much better, more technical explanation for it however. I just know that I've experienced it in almost every SUV I've driven or ridden in, to varying degrees.
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

It is Wind Buffeting, Similar to blowing over the top of an open bottle. The Outlook is pretty tightly sealed as you can how quite it is while driving with the windows up. If you want to reduce this buffeting you'll have to crack open a couple of the other windows to help some air escape. The large interior space of the Outlook intensifies the effect of the buffeting as with any larger vehicle.

Here is a excerpt from Desktop Engineering, Dec. 2004, describing the event.
Wind Buffeting
An unstable shear layer that is established at the forward edge of a window opening causes wind buffeting. These disturbances (swirling wind or currents of different speeds and directions) travel along the side of the vehicle and, when they reach the rear edge of the window opening, generate a pressure wave that propagates both inside and outside the passenger compartment. Outside the vehicle, this wave moves both forward and backward along the side of the car. When the forward-traveling wave reaches the front edge of the opening, it triggers another disturbance that moves back to the rear edge. This process is repeated many times a second and causes the shear layer to develop a characteristic buffeting frequency, which depends on the vehicle speed and the geometry of the opening.
....In recent years, dramatic reductions in structure-borne and airborne noise in the passenger compartment have made wind buffeting more noticeable to drivers and passengers.
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:36 PM   #8
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

I almost want to say that I'm glad that I'm not the only one experiencing this....but really I'm kinda sad for all of us.

My 1999 Suburban made an annoying noise problem when I open its rear windows at freeway speed, however it was just a low volume droning noise and although annoying there was no vibration. The Outlook was what I consider severe noise and the whole cabin was shaking badly, so badly was the buffeting that the radio speakers were distorting.

Tomorrow I'm going to drill a dozen 2" holes in the lift gate so that the cabin "breathes". That should FIX IT.............. (oh c'mon I'm KIDDING of course)........(maybe 1" holes !!)

Now you can see why I'd never make it as a comedian.
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Old 03-07-2007, 01:13 AM   #9
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwenzilla View Post
I almost want to say that I'm glad that I'm not the only one experiencing this....but really I'm kinda sad for all of us.
...
Tomorrow I'm going to drill a dozen 2" holes in the lift gate so that the cabin "breathes". That should FIX IT.............. (oh c'mon I'm KIDDING of course)........(maybe 1" holes !!)

Now you can see why I'd never make it as a comedian.
It was funny , yes. By the way, this problem is pretty severe in the Toy-Ota Highlander as well, but you can reduce it by opening other windows.
...
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Old 03-07-2007, 02:13 AM   #10
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Sounds/feels like someone boxing your ears.
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Old 03-07-2007, 08:05 AM   #11
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

my toyota highlander did this REALLY badly. I mean REALLY bad. the first time it happened i though i was going to drive off the road. I thought my ears were going to explode. the air pulsated like a giant drum. I haven't done it yet in the saturn (through experience). i just learned to crack the front windows till it stopped. I agree that it's the nature of the SUV with the aerodynamics and the size of the cabin. I'll try it today in the Outlook to see how it compares to what i used to experience.
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Old 03-07-2007, 10:13 AM   #12
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Its not just SUV's that do this. Wagons also suffer from the same thing. Our 2003 Passat is pretty nasty with the rear windows down as well. It all has to do with air displacement. The air coming in the back needs somewhere to go. Even with 2 windows open right across from each other arent good enough. You have to have another window at a diagional open to help the problem. The vibration is cause by air moving very quickly trying to enter and exit the same opening. The vibration you feel is the pressure changing inside the car from a posative pressure (air coming in) to a negative pressure (air going out). Its actually a very good thing to hear as it means your vehicle is sealed tight as can be. No air leaks = queiter car. Believe it or not the aura suffers from a mild case of this as well. Just means its well built if you think about it. Just roll down one of the front windows, or even crack the sunroof, that should help. Just remember, the air coming in needs a place to go. If it didnt vibrate and switch pressures like that your car would end up exploding! (Like blowing up a balloon too much)
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Old 03-07-2007, 10:23 AM   #13
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Right - my BMW 525i Wagon does the exact same thing. My kids have learned that they can't have just the rear windows down.
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Old 03-07-2007, 01:58 PM   #14
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Just to let you all know, my wifes 99 Lexus RX300 did it too.
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Old 03-07-2007, 03:48 PM   #15
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

[QUOTE=fireman5031;1014332]Its not just SUV's that do this. Wagons also suffer from the same thing. Our 2003 Passat is pretty nasty with the rear windows down as well.

We also had the same problem with our VW wagon and experienced it with the Saturn as well. As others have said, just crack the other windows and it should go away.
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Old 03-07-2007, 04:37 PM   #16
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireman5031 View Post
Its not just SUV's that do this. Wagons also suffer from the same thing. ...
Certainly not all wagons do this. We've had Chevy wagons since 1972, including four Celebrity or Celebrity Eurosports, and never noticed this. Our 2001 Saturn L2 wagon doesn't do it either.
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Old 03-07-2007, 05:03 PM   #17
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightOutlook View Post
Certainly not all wagons do this. We've had Chevy wagons since 1972, including four Celebrity or Celebrity Eurosports, and never noticed this. Our 2001 Saturn L2 wagon doesn't do it either.
I would think that the cars from the 70's didn't have the same quiet (sealed) cabins as the Outlook. Remember, the pressure wave that is introduced is caused by the moving air, at different speeds, getting trapped. In the older vehicles air pressure could escapes through gaps in body panels, moulding, non-gasketed doors or windows.

Newer vehicles are designed to be quieter by closing off areas that let IN noise, but you also eliminate areas from air to escape. Even the placement of side view mirrors can cause low distortion waves as air moves over their surface.

Here is an image of a fluid dynamics model showing pressure wakes around an open front window and mirror.


For more info on this read the following article:
http://www.deskeng.com/Articles/Appl...041201213.html
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Old 03-07-2007, 10:36 PM   #18
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Default Re: High speed noise problem

I'm just happy to know there isn't something seriously wrong with my particular Outlook! What a relief.
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