An Introduction to NVH Engineering for Auto Parts Specialists
May 12, 2017
A lot of thought goes into the way a car looks, the way it feels to drive, and how good it is at protecting drivers. One of the processes most important to working on these qualities is noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) engineering.
This process is used to make each car produce and interact with sound, vibrations, and impacts in a particular way, in order to achieve a particular feel. It’s responsible for the intimidating roar of powerful muscle cars as well as for the quiet you can find inside upscale models. It also deserves credit for the relative comfort today’s cars can achieve, even when driving over bumpy roads.
Here’s a closer look at NVH, and why it’s something worth paying attention to.
Auto Parts Specialists Can Thank NVH for the Sound of Today’s Cars
Sound is a hugely important and complex part of the modern driving experience, but it’s also basically just a person’s ears and brain detecting and interpreting vibrations. This means that to achieve a particular goal for a car’s sound, you need to control the vibrations a car produces, and also control the way exterior vibrations travel through the car before reaching an occupant’s ears.
When a car is designed, NVH is an important part of determining which parts and materials are used. Does a particular wheel sound good on both smooth and rough surfaces? Do the cooling fans produce a pleasant hiss, or are they too loud? This subjective experience can also be a concern for an auto parts specialist. For example, if an original part is going to be swapped with a non-OEM component, what might that do for the sound experience—and will a client be okay with the change?
Because so many factors are involved, achieving a good sound is a complex issue for cars. Careful selection of parts and materials, however, can help.
Auto Parts Specialists Can Help Reduce Harshness in Customer Cars
Harshness is perhaps the most difficult element of NVH to define. Generally speaking, it refers to how jarring it is for a car to hit things like curbs, potholes, or other objects or obstacles, and possibly has the most immediate safety consequences of the NVH family. If a car does a poor job of cushioning the driver from a particularly deep pothole, for example, there’s a decent chance the driver could lose control of the vehicle and have an accident. Parts can also easily be damaged in bad encounters with the kinds of obstacles listed above.
Selecting and installing quality parts is one of the best ways professionals in auto parts careers can improve NVH and help cars handle harsh conditions better. Ensuring quality shocks, tires, springs, and other parts are installed can go a long way to helping drivers stay comfortable and safe while driving, even when the road is difficult.
NVH Is the Reason Today’s Cars Handle Vibrations Pretty Gracefully
Vibrations are detected by the ear as sound, but they can also get a car—and all its occupants—shaking if they’re not controlled properly. This is why a large concern of NVH is ensuring the vibrations a car produces, both on its own and driving through the world, don’t make for an uncomfortable ride for the people inside.
NVH relies on a number of parts to contribute to reducing the amount of vibration experienced by people inside of vehicles, including shock absorbers and other vibration isolators, tires, axles, and many others. Together, these parts all help dampen vibrations travelling through the car. For most cars in good condition, barely any vibration will be detected by the driver most of the time. If ever you do encounter a car vibrating badly in your career, odds are it’s a tire issue—a pretty easy fix.
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