When you drive your Sprinter Cargo van for the first time you will be surprised about the amount of noise that you will hear: Wind noises, the sound of the tires on the road and the rattling noise of the sheet metal panels. Compared to the noise level in a Sprinter, a modern passenger car is whisper quiet. The good news is that a lot of the reasons for the noise level in your cargo van can be addressed and with some clever materials you can get a much quieter ride.
Reducing rattling noises
First look for the easy things – is everything securely attached to the van? any loosened screws or missing clips to hold interior panels in place? Next you’ll need to add some weight to the sheet metal panels. If you drive, the panels will start to vibrate and make some noise.
Adding some tiles made out of Butyl will reduce those vibrations by making your metal panels less flexible. The material comes either in pre cut tiles or on a roll which you need to cut to size. Applying is easy – just peel of the protective foil on the back and stick them on the panel (of course from the inside!). Most suppliers will also give you a small wooden roller which you can use to apply some pressure for a better bond between the materials.
There are plenty of brands for this stuff – FatMat [@eBay], Dynamat [@eBay], Hushmat [@eBay] or GTMat [@eBay] to name a few. Just make sure that they are made out of butyl and not asphalt. The latter is much cheaper and mostly used on house roofs but will start smelling, especially when heated – which can easily happen when you park your van in the sun.
On most of the manufacturers websites you will see the complete interior body of a car covered with sound deadener which you don’t need to do. Just cover about 25% of the surface of each panel with the material. This will be effective enough to reduce the vibration.
Building a sound barrier
The next step is to reduce the sound from the outside of the van. It also works the other way: if you’re used to crank up your car stereo volume, building a sound barrier will be nice for drivers of the other cars standing next to you at a traffic light. The ideal material for this is MLV (Mass loaded vinyl) which is basically a heavy rubber mat. An appropriate place for those would be as a layer between your interior panels and the van body. Here it’s important to not having any gaps where sound waves could sneak through.
Additional sound deadening steps
There are some more tricks to reduce the noise levels inside your van, like adding a layer of foam to absorb sound waves or choosing the right tires. If you’re interested to learn more, check out this website where I got some ideas for my camper build.
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