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  • Wind buffeting refers to the phenomenon where air from outside a vehicle mixes with air inside the vehicle.
  • You can prevent wind buffeting by opening at least two windows when driving and installing wind deflectors on your windows.
  • Wind noise refers to any noise generated by wind resistance when driving.

Whether or not you’re familiar with the concepts of wind buffeting and wind noise, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced them before. These phenomena are not exactly uncommon, especially if you make windy trips quite often.

When driving down the road, you might hear the wind howl as it collides with your vehicle. Other times, you might feel like a miniature tornado is building up inside your vehicle when you lower the window.

But what causes these phenomena, and what steps can you take to prevent them from happening?

What Is Wind Buffeting?

Wind buffeting refers to drivers and passengers feeling throbbing, thumping wind inside the cabin. This phenomenon is described as something similar to standing underneath a helicopter. Sound is drowned out by the sheer noise of the wind, and waves of pressure can be felt as wind flows in from the outside.

Wind buffeting occurs when the air from outside the vehicle collides with the air from inside the cabin. This causes the air to compress and decompress rapidly over and over again, creating that throbbing helicopter-like effect.

Factors That Contribute to Wind Buffeting

open car window causing wind buffeting
Wind buffeting usually occurs when a driver opens one window – sunroofs included.

Wind buffeting usually occurs when a driver opens one window – sunroofs included.

There are specific factors that can make wind buffeting more intense. This includes driving airtight vehicles that don’t relieve air pressure well and traveling at high speeds.

What Is Wind Noise?

Wind noise refers to any noise generated by wind resistance when driving. It differs from wind buffeting because the air doesn’t necessarily have to enter the vehicle. That throbbing, thumping sensation also doesn’t apply to wind noise.

This refers to disruptive noise generated by wind both inside and outside the vehicle. For example, this noise is generated when high-pressure air tries to escape your vehicle at high speeds. Wind noise is also generated when a vehicle collides with the air.

Common Causes of Wind Noise

Wind noise is typically caused by driving a large vehicle that makes a lot of contact with air and changes in air pressure inside your vehicle. This sound is usually produced when pressurized air attempts to escape the vehicle through weathered door seals and cracked windows.

Wind Buffeting in Modern Vehicles: Why Is It Harsher in Newer Cars?

Wind buffeting is more common in modern vehicles because their designs tend to be more aerodynamic. Newer models are designed to have as little wind resistance as possible, helping them achieve higher speeds quickly and effortlessly. Because there’s less drag, significantly more wind passes through the vehicle.

Since these vehicles are aerodynamic, they’re designed to keep atmospheric air out while keeping any air that’s already inside the vehicle in. This means that air entering the vehicle has a much harder time escaping. As a result, wind buffeting becomes more intense.

How to Prevent Wind Buffeting

The simplest and most effective way to prevent wind buffeting when driving at high speeds is to open more than one window. This causes the pressure inside the vehicle to stabilize.

Alternate methods include installing wind deflectors. These accessories are designed to direct wind away from your vehicle. They’re installed on the front edge of the windows, guiding the airflow away from the vehicle to minimize noise. 

Dealing With Wind Noise in Vehicles

Sometimes you might hear the wind from inside the cabin, even with all the doors and windows shut. Though it isn’t necessarily dangerous, being able to hear the wind can be both distracting and frustrating.

One of the best ways to deal with this is to single out the source of noise.  Installing wind deflectors, windshields, and sound deadening mats may also help. It also doesn’t hurt to repair any damaged parts and components that might be causing the noise.

Always Determine Where the Noise Comes From

Knowing how to locate the source of wind noise is important if you want to address the problem. An easy way to accomplish this is to turn off the speakers so you can concentrate on finding the source of the noise. More often than not, weathered window and door seals are responsible for wind noise.

Install Wind Deflectors and Acoustic Windshields

Wind deflectors aren’t just used to prevent wind buffeting. By directing wind away from your vehicle, you won’t have to worry about wind noise. The key is finding wind deflectors designed for your specific make and model to ensure a proper fit.

If you’re due to replace a cracked or damaged windshield, you might want to consider getting a new one made from acoustic glass. Acoustic windshields block out the sound of the wind while keeping horns and sirens audible.

Install Sound Deadening Mats

Sound deadening mats are good at preventing wind noise. They absorb sound and vibrations inside and outside the vehicle, dissipating and muffling them. This means you won’t have to worry about wind noise, among other kinds of noise, anymore.

Repair Damaged Parts

Dents, scratches, and weathered components can increase wind noise. Damaged parts of a car door, such as worn door seals, can make the wind louder and more intrusive.

It’s a good practice to regularly check your vehicle for signs of damage. You can either inspect it yourself or bring it to a professional for maintenance.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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