Taking your car to and from the office every day really does a number on your car. Tires wear out, and then there are oil changes, car washes, and other regular maintenance that comes along with piling the miles on the old chariot.
But what about the interior?
Sludging melted snow onto your floor mats and spilling a little bit of coffee on the center console takes its toll over time. If you don’t have access to underground parking, your car may be trapped in the blazing sunlight for 9 hours at a time — and the sun’s UV rays can do more damage than any amount of coffee ever will.
The bottom line is that your commuter car could use a little TLC. Proactive interior care will not only preserve your car’s resale value, it will be a nicer place to be while you drive to wherever life takes you. And on a chilly Monday morning, any extra happiness is well worth finding.
From rubber floor mats to a new windshield sun shade, here are 5 great ideas for how to preserve your commuter car’s interior.
1. Treat Your Factory Floors to New Mats
Just when you’re hitting a high note on your rendition of “Since You’ve Been Gone,” you go for a dramatic hand motion and toss your coffee tumbler to the side. There goes your morning dose of caffeine — and your car’s carpeting.
Thankfully, you can protect your car’s floors from coffee, rain, and whatever’s on the bottom of your shoe with a set of new car floor mats.
What to Look For:
- Tough materials. There’s no sense in protecting your car with cheap, brittle plastic. Choose floor mats that won’t crack in extreme temperatures or fade in the sun.
- Ridges and grooves. These direct water away from your carpet and capture dirt until you can clean the mats. Some mats also have a deeper, reservoir-like tread that can be easily dumped over the side of your car when the door is open. Nice!
- Custom fit. Universal floor mats often leave gaps where your original flooring can show through. That’s not good. The floor mat should sit flush and reach the door jamb, so find one designed for your year, make, and model.
- Retention engineering. Big words for “make sure the mats don’t slide around.” Some mats hook to attachment points on your car’s floor, while others have spiky rubber nibs on the back that secure the mats in place.
Our Favorite Car Floor Mats for Commuters:
We sell a wide array of plastic, carpet, and rubber floor mats on AutoAnything. Here are some of our best sellers.
These mats are made from tough, durable patented rubberized material that can withstand water, mud, snow, gasoline, coffee and motor oil. Available in multiple colors, they are computer designed and laser measured for a perfect fit in your commuter car.
Sleek, tough, and secure — these floor mats check all the boxes. The mats are available in multiple colors and have a three-layer structure which integrates a sound-insulating barrier to help soften your car’s hums and whirls, all without the aggressive style of other floor mats.
2. Protect the Seats from Spills
Commuter cars see it all. You’re getting in and out of the vehicle multiple times a day, you’re taking it out in the rain and snow, and you’re keeping warm with hot beverages all the time. And then there’s the piles of stuff you keep in the backseat because sometimes you have to make 20 stops after work.
Car seat covers hide tears, stains, and discoloration. Plus, they keep new car fabric looking good for the long haul.
What to Look For:
- Washable fabric that is easy to clean. Even the best car seat cover can’t repel 100% of your sweat and dirt. Get a set of car seat covers that can be thrown in the washer and drip dry or be treated with spot cleaning.
- UV resistance for handling hot sunny days. If your ride is going to be in the parking lot all day, you don’t want the seat covers to be hot or giving your seats the car equivalent of a farmer’s tan.
- Custom-fit designs that work around your air bags, map pockets, and other important built-ins. If you have a seat cover over your console, it should be able to accommodate your car’s safety features and bind tightly to your seats.
Some car seat covers are meant to be universal, but the reality is that they will slip and slide around as you get out of your car in the morning. Ensuring the right fit means your commuter car seats are fully protected.
Our Car Seat Cover Suggestions:
Some of the best car seat covers are made of neoprene, canvas, and leather. Here are a few that our customers love.
These car seat covers are made from the same stuff as wetsuits. That means they can handle a rainstorm or 20 without starting to wrinkle or tear. They also cover armrests, headrests, and your inner console flawlessly. Plus, they’re stain resistant and provide a little extra cushion beneath your derrière. Nice.
If you need front and back seat protection, these car seat covers are the real deal. They can be purchased for bucket seats as well as benches. Made from a super durable canvas material, they are highly water resistant and extremely comfortable.
The OEM-grade leatherette these seat covers are constructed from can withstand sun, water, and other everyday threats. They’re airbag compliant and have quick-release buckles that make it easy to take them on and off — and they look good.
3. Defend Your Car Against the Sun
The sun’s UV rays are the silent killer of automotive interiors. One year your dashboard looks fine, the next year it’s a little lighter, and before you know it cracks are developing and your radio screen has started discoloring. The same thing that gives you a sweet summer tan is destroying your car one day at a time. I thought we were friends!
A windshield sun shade can do a few things. The ones that fit on the inside of your windshield keep the sun from devastating your interior and keep your car cooler inside. The shades that fit on the outside of your windshield keep snow and ice from collecting that you later have to scrape off — because scraping a sheet of ice from your windshield while you blast the defrost is no way to start every day.
What to Look For:
- A shade that matches the size and shape of your windshield. You don’t want to let snow sneak in through the side or an open area near the top of the car.
- A way to secure the shade to the car. Outside windshield shades usually fit beneath your windshield wipers, and inside shades should have a way to stay in place — usually your sun visors — so you can set it and forget it.
- Easy storage options. When it’s not in use, you want your sun shade to be able to tuck beneath a seat or in the trunk without taking up too much space.
Some of Our Best Windshield Shades:
Sun shades can both reflect the sun and keep frost at bay — but some are better at one than the other. Consider buying a warm-weather shade and a winter shade so you can have the best of both worlds close at hand. Here are two of our customers’ favorites.
This cover sits on the cover of your windshield, clipping neatly beneath your windshield wipers. There are four layers, including black vinyl and silver foil. It’s great for overnight use, but it will also protect the glass while you’re in the office so you can head home right away — so you don’t have to spend another minute at work.
If you park in a garage overnight, just roll up the cover into its carrying case.
You could drop the interior temperature of your car by up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit just by installing this sun shade beneath your windshield. The sun shade fits on the inside of the glass and not only reflects away UV rays, but protects your dashboard against cracks and fading. A soft layer of felt means the cover won’t scratch the glass.
4. Wrap Up Your Steering Wheel
Let’s be honest: you’ve white-knuckle your steering wheel during rush hour traffic more than you’d like to admit.
When you’re commuting via car, the wheel can take the brunt of your driving aggression and be worse for wear over time. Fortunately, it’s an easy enough problem to avoid. Steering wheel covers feel great under your hands, provide a superior grip, and protect your original steering wheel against cracks and fading.
Plus, you can remove the cover when you trade in the car and no one will see your powdered sugar fingerprints from all those morning donuts.
What to Look For:
- Comfortable grip that makes it easier to hang on to the wheel without your hands slipping or sticking.
- Temperature control. We’re talking material that keeps your steering wheel warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather.
- A snug fit so that your steering wheel cover won’t have gaps or be stretched too tight.
- UV resistance that protects your new wheel cover from fading or cracking on super hot days.
Steering Wheel Cover Inspiration:
When your hands are on 10 and 2 between 9 to 5, you want them to be comfortable.
More steering control also means you’ll be safer in any temperature. We all know how hard it is to grip the wheel at the end of a scorcher in mid-summer or during the chill of a frozen winter.
Sometimes, it really is all in the name. This wheel cover keeps your hands comfortable and your wheel protected. The cover is available in multiple colors and fits most standard size steering wheels. The cover is leatherette and has ergonomic side grips.
This not-quite-real leather wheel cover feels like buttah against your hands, which is great for long commutes. It’s also great for cold drives and won’t crack under the pressure of UV rays. Sweet action.
5. Don’t Forget About the Junk in Your Trunk
Sometimes your commuter car turns into your home away from home. It’s the vessel for your gym bag, the place you store your lunch, and the storage for your extra shoes. And maybe that goes on for a couple months or years at a time. Hey, no judgement here.
You can preserve the trunk or cargo area of your car, truck, SUV, or hatchback with a trunk mat, aka a cargo liner. Whether carpet or plastic, a cargo mat keeps the original fabric on the floor of your trunk from getting destroyed when you throw your kids’ muddy soccer cleats in the back and forget about them until the day of the next practice. Yeah, we’ve been there.
What to Look For:
- Tight woven fabric. Tight weaves won’t let moisture get through the material to penetrate your original flooring. You can also consider rubber, which will be completely impermeable.
- Slip-resistant backing. This will prevent the trunk mat from moving around when you take turns a little fast. The backing also acts as another moisture barrier to protect the trunk floor carpeting.
- Multiple layers that can deflect water, protect against stains, and won’t shrink if it gets really hot in the cargo area.
- The perfect fit that leaves no corner vulnerable. When you open the trunk while it’s raining or snowing, you don’t want a puddle to form along the perimeter that has no coverage.
Trunk Liner Suggestions:
This trunk mat is made from thermoplastic rubber designed to handle anything life throws at it. Really. The waterproof protection stops water or other spills from reaching the floor and it’s also shock and sound absorbent.
Plus, the 3D design includes grooves that trap dirt. These mats are also laser cut to match your exact vehicle, so you can’t go wrong with the fit.
These cargo liners are made to cover up your cargo area’s vulnerable carpeting. It’s available in a variety of colors and the lined with rubber nibs to keep your cargo liner in place.
The Bottom Line for Protecting Your Commuter Car
When it comes to protecting your car’s interior, the most important thing is taking proactive action. Don’t wait for signs of damage to develop — by then it’ll be too late.
That’s why it’s important to protect your commuter car against the elements. Between the best car seat covers and rubber floor mats (and some other clever add-ons like cargo mats and sun shades), you have the power to keep your vehicle looking good for years to come.
All the products mentioned in this post are protected by AutoAnything’s Price Match Guarantee. That means if you find a lower price anywhere else — online or offline — within a full year after your purchase, we’ll refund you the difference and beat their price by $1! We think it’s worth a cup of coffee to get you the best car interior protection.
Just try not spill it on the seats.