Car Horn Honking Inside a Closed Garage — Can It Cause Hearing Damage or Worsen Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Support' started by whatdidyousay, Jan 21, 2021.

    1. whatdidyousay

      whatdidyousay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud volumes
      Would a car honk inside of a typical home's two-car garage while the garage is CLOSED produce sound levels of the "permanent damage" variety?

      Decibel numbers posted online for car horns seem rather vague and Wikipedia cites numbers between 107-112 dB. This particular car is a newer Lexus RX SUV.

      However, It's kind of tough to get an idea exactly how loud car horns are in decibels for at least a few reasons:

      - every horn may be different
      - it's unclear at what distance from horn the sound measurement was taken
      - assuming the numbers may be measured outdoors

      I've always read how loud guns are for inside ranges vs. outdoors and so I'd guess a car horn sound indoors may be a lot louder. This garage has concrete flooring and walls, which probably does not help.

      I was around 3m (~10 feet) away when a family member blasted the car horn to get my attention, instead of simply opening the car door to say something like, "Hey, I need some help carrying stuff." It certainly startled me as I didn't see it coming.

      It was a single honk and so maybe 2-4 seconds exposure. NIOSH suggests up to 124dB would be allowed for upwards of 3 seconds.

      Given it was indoors and in a two-car garage with both garage doors closed and concrete floors and walls, could such a sound be assumed to be 124+ dB or in a dangerous enough range to cause permanent damage despite only lasting for 2-4 seconds?
    2. Poseidon65

      Poseidon65 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud concert
      What you’re describing sounds like it has the potential to be extremely loud.

      If someone had normal hearing and no tinnitus to start with, personally I’d doubt if this incident would have ill effect.

      If someone already has compromised ears, I don’t think any of us could know for sure what will happen.

      You didn’t say whether you’re noticing any ill effects, e.g. a tinnitus spike or hearing issues. How are you doing?

      A few other things:

      if you really want to gauge the loudness, get an SPL meter and reproduce the situation. If you’re sitting inside the closed car with ear protection (maybe even double protection), this should not hurt you.

      2 to 4 seconds is a long honk. If you think about the honk you might give someone at a red light, when they didn’t notice it changed to green, it’s probably more like 0.25 seconds or less.
    3. AUTHOR

      whatdidyousay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud volumes
      That's a good observation. I didn't think it could be under a second - perhaps they [horns] seem much longer since we play them out in our heads.

      Agree you could just replicate the moment as an experiment, but I'm not going to ask for it to be done again. I did find it quite interesting though since I couldn't find any other posts or basic information on how loud car horns could be in an indoor setting. Probably the worst damage I ever did to my ears was attending a concert festival in the early 00s that was basically in a basement with concrete floors and walls, similar to my family's garage but the concert hall was much larger than the garage.

      Not sure if a sound that would be say 112dB in a wide open outdoor space could reach, 125, 130, 135 decibels or more in a small, closed garage and I'm not sure how accurate my handheld meter would be nearing those levels. I'd imagine the sound inside the car would be lower since the interior cabin has pretty good dampening effects. As mentioned, I was about 10 feet away outside of the car but still inside a closed garage. Perhaps I'm overthinking it, but I'm hoping an indoor car honk in a concrete foundation room doesn't produce sound levels similar to a small gun outdoors. In the scenario of up to a full second of sound, NIOSH guidelines suggest up to 127db could be tolerated. And that's obviously really loud - louder than probably any stock SUV horn under typical outdoor circumstances.

      Regarding symptoms, feels at least like a spike so far.
    4. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      Car horns are loud, and louder in a closed space. Therefore, they could cause worsening tinnitus for sure.

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