Years of spills, muddy shoes, and moisture will wear down your car carpeting. Floor mats help a lot, but won’t protect it completely. Eventually, it will look worn out, threadbare and shabby.
Here’s a simple guide to replacing your car carpeting. You can have it installed by a professional (and this will help you ask smart questions and get the best for your money) or you can use our step-by-step to do it yourself.
Different types of car carpeting
There are three kinds of car carpeting: preformed, precut or cut-it-yourself broadloom.
Preformed car carpeting are an exact replica of the one your car was shipped with. It is cut and molded around the seat, jumps and floor wells, and often has the right padding.
Precut car carpeting will fit the shape of your car, but does not have molding or padding—you or the person you hire will have to prepare this yourself, and cut it carefully so it fits perfectly.
Broadloom car carpeting is less expensive, and may be your only option if you can’t find any suitable preformed or precut styles. Plus, this is usually thick enough that you don’t need to do any padding.
Where to get car carpeting
You can get car carpeting from auto dealers or from wholesale online stores. Auto dealers can usually install it for you, but will charge a service fee. You can go straight to an automotive trim shop or automotive upholsterer.
How to install car carpeting yourself
Another option is to install car carpeting yourself, and use the money you would’ve spent on service fees to buy higher quality material. If you’re very resourceful, and shop around at different auto upholstery websites, you may even get great bargain on upholstery remnants. A simple step-by-step guide follows below.
Removing the old car carpeting
Your first instinct may be to cut, tear off, or pry the old carpeting until you have a pile of shreds. But you need to preserve the pattern if you are going to cut the material yourself.
So, first remove the screws from the seal plates. You’ll find this just inside the door. Then, take off the nuts or bolts that secure the seats. The easiest way to do this is to slide the seat forward and back until you get the best angle for removing the bolts. It may also help to unscrew the seatbelts. You will then be able to remove the seats.
You can then loosen the car carpeting out of the panels, working it around the seat belt holders and other small obstacles. Pull slowly so you don’t rip it—a few little tears are okay, but retain the general pattern. Once you’re done, you can scrape off any padding that has stayed stuck in the rims.
This is a good chance to clean the floorboard of any dust and rust, or apply rust-prevention paint to the car floor.
Cutting new car carpeting
All that hard work pays off when you see how simple this crucial step will be. Just place the old car carpet over the material and trace around it. Leave a one inch margin around the edges, but be very precise when cutting the holes for seat belt connectors, dimmer switch, etc. You can cut the holes a little smaller for a tight fit, or to allow later corrections for accidental off-center holes.
Installing new car carpeting
Position the new car carpeting in the car, first centering it over the middle hump and then smoothing it towards the sides, front and back. Place heavy books or boxes on the carpeting so the material stays pressed against the hump, floor, seat belt connectors, etc.
Sometimes the new car carpeting will buckle. If that happens, find the corner that’s nearest the buckle and then make a slit as long as the buckle. Overlap the two sides of the slit and trim until the car carpeting material lies flat.
When you’re happy with the position, trim the edges for a snug fit, leaving enough for the carpeting to be tucked under kick panels and seal plates.
Securing the new car carpeting
Some car experts recommend applying contact cement on certain areas: the center and sides of the hump, the curved areas around the floor wells, under the dashboard, behind the brake and accelerator pedals, under any slits you made in the previous step, and the leading edge tucked under kick panels. Once you’re done, reinstall the seats, etc. and you’re done!
Photo from automotivefloormats.info