If you’ve had the pleasure of driving or riding in the Chevy Cruze, one of the qualities of the attractive compact you may have noticed is the utter silence of the interior. That quietness, however, isn’t solely due to the noise-minimizing elements used in the car; instead, the silence found in the Cruze’s cabin is also the result of the time the Delta-based global compact vehicle spent in GM’s Squeak and Rattle Lab at the Milford Providing Ground in Michigan.
Meet GM development engineer Frank Delekta. An avid sport fisherman, Delekta appreciates the peace, quiet, and tranquility of Michigan lakes and streams. And its this appreciation of silence that has driven Delekta and his engineers to achieve that luxury-like level of silence in the Cruze.
For starters, the Cruze utilizes a number of noise-reducing and noise-canceling technologies on the body structure, including 30 distinct acoustical treatments. For instance, one of such treatments is a Liquid Applied Sound Deadener that’s strategically applied throughout the car’s body structure and then melted into place when the body passes through the paint oven. The doors feature triple seals and fiberglass “blankets” that work as water, airflow, and noise barriers, and they still close with a solid and precise “thump” and no resonance.
Reducing or eliminating noise from entering the interior is one thing; but what if noises originate from within the cabin in the form of squeaks or rattles? No amount of sound-deadening materials will ever overcome that, which is why GM engineers across North America, Europe, and Asia tested the Cruze on a variety of real-world roads at various speeds, and reported on the noises they heard. The noises were then replicated in the lab to find the source of the noise and eliminate it. GM’s state-of-the art environmental four-post simulator that mimics the world’s most-challenging road surfaces was one of the tools used to find new rattles or reproduce existing ones in the lab. It’s this kind of ardent testing that allowed engineers to make changes to the Cruze’s interior to eliminate squeaks and rattles early on in the vehicle’s development process.
“I have a pretty acute sense of hearing,” said Delekta. “Outside of work, if I ask someone ‘Did you hear that?’ the answer is almost always ‘No.’ I hear noises that others don’t.”
The extreme testing even included varying temperatures in the climatic anechoic chamber to evaluate cabin sounds present at extreme temperatures — from minus 20 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the course of the same day. Since components may behave differently (read: squeak or rattle) at various temperatures (say 100 degrees but not when it’s below freezing), the intense tests resulted in improvements in 74 components.
One of the improvements made to the Cruze was related to the car’s audio system: a noticeable rattle from the rear deck lid was discovered and traced to bigger speakers that pumped out more volume and bass. To fix the rattle, engineers used an attachment clip to stabilize the panel that accommodates the speakers in the rear deck lid. Not only did the addition of the clip result in the elimination of the rattle, but it also led to better audio fidelity through the Cruze’s (awesome-sounding) Pioneer sound system.
The GM Authority Take
It’s engineering stories like this that make us huge fans of GM products. The level of testing and attention to detail and perfection are truly inspiring, and the results are obvious: the Cruze is by far the highest-quality compact car on the market today. Heck, other automakers don’t even have squeak and rattle labs (we’re looking at you, VW and Volvo), let alone conduct tests to find them.