Think about it, the bottoms of shoes are terrible. I hate to draw a mental picture, but think of the places those soles have tread; from dirty streets and sticky floors to the dirt and grime of the job site. You wouldn’t want dirty shoes on the carpets in your home, so why would we allow them on our carpets in our cars?
When I bought my last car, the previous owner didn’t seem to care one way or another about the carpets. As a result there is a large hole in the carpets all the way to sheet metal. I couldn’t stop that problem but I can stop it from happening elsewhere.
All new cars these days come with floor mats in one form or another, but many can leave a lot to be desired for quality and protection. Too thin, too small, or maybe even too nice for grubby shoes. Maybe, like me, your mats are missing or damaged, in which case you owe it to yourself to consider replacement floor mats. The added comfort and/or protection of aftermarket floor mats is one of the easiest and cheapest investments you can make to keep your car fresh and clear for years.
The purpose of this buyers guide is to give you a broad scope of some of your options so you can choose the right level of comfort and performance for your budget.
There are 3 basic types of mats or liners to look at:
- Basic – Inexpensive replacements for basic protection.
- Premium – An upgrade in quality of materials and improvements in feel and durability.
- All-weather – Designed with protection first and foremost, including mud, snow, sand, and other extreme elements.
As I said before, feet and shoes are gross, so why put a lot of money into something literally trodden under foot? If you are looking for floor mats you are probably in one of 2 boats; you need more protection or you need SOME protection for lost mats. Basic mats are for the second choice, though many offer added protection over or in lieu of factory mats as well. If you’ve got an old truck, or wheeling rig that you will get messy but don’t want to wear out the difficult to repair factory carpet, you won’t go wrong here.
These are typically one size fits all and are made from nylon loop carpet or rubber. Even though they are considered a basic mat, you should still shop for quality. Brands like some from the ProZ line are not only more flexible and durable than cheap store brands but aren’t much different in price. Shop around and you may be surprised what you can get for your money.
For winter, wet or muddy conditions you should consider a rubber mat like the Michelin rubber mat kit for durability.
If you are in a hot dry location like I am, consider a thin pile nylon loop carpet like the ProZ big rig for trucks and SUV’s. Also, the Lloyd Mats classic loop will capture and retain fine dirt and sand easily, but are still simple to clean at the car wash.
As the name implies, these are premium replacement mats that offer additional luxury or offer increased protection without looking out of place in premium vehicles.
Lloyd Mats makes a premium custom fit deep pile carpet mat that is a great solution if you drive barefoot or just like the feel of a deep pile carpet.
Another choice is a custom fit embroidered mat to personalize the interior of your vehicle.
For 3 pedal, heel-toe addicts that refuse to give up that carpet feel, the Lund Catch-all mats provide a premium mat with reinforcement in the right places for your fancy footwork.
If you live in a place with nasty winters and you’d like to stop soaking your carpets with slush and crud, you should probably consider all-weather mats. Kids are another great reason to consider all-weather floor mats, because either way, the goal here is mess containment.
This category ranges the spectrum from basic to premium. The Gold standard in this area for years, have been liners like the WeatherTech Digitalfit and Husky Liners which are perfectly contoured to your specific make and model (where available) but also class up the place a little in the process. There is an old wisdom that says that the clean engine bay gets a little more of the white glove treatment in the mechanics bay. Likewise, having premium protection visible when you open the door tells everyone you love your vehicle and are serious about keeping it nice.
Hopefully this encourages your guests to do the same, but even if they don’t, these premium all-weather liners can take it. I’ve had WeatherTech and Husky Liners in my personal vehicles in the past and I can attest to their durability and quality.
While these liners are hard and durable, they don’t provide the look or feel of carpet. In the case you want both, look at something like the Aries StyleGuard XD or Lund Catch-it Carpet mats which provide excellent protection and spill containment, but with a slightly softer feel.
Whichever way you decide, it’s not going to be very likely you will regret the decision to protect and beautify your vehicle.