How to Properly Install Floor Mats

by | Oct 7, 2010 01:27 PM ET

My old 4x4 was really starting to show its age, but he (yes, I'm one of those people who names her cars) was still running and getting me from point A to point B, so I stuck to my maintenance schedule like clockwork. I also stuck to a fairly routine aesthetic maintenance schedule -- he got a regular bath from me, but a couple times a year, he also got a professional cleaning. Typically, after taking Mr. Jeepers (that's MJ for short!) to the detail shop, I'd go through readjusting things like seat, mirror and mat positioning. One time, I apparently forgot to check the mats -- ugh! Short story: Both the car and I ended up OK, but I faithfully checked my mats after that.

MJ's front-seat mats have these anchors for them - there's a hole in the mat with a metal grommet and there's an anchor affixed to the floorboard. The back side of the mats also have (well, had -- MJ was nearing his 10th birthday) those rubber spikes to keep the mat from sliding. Well, I guess the folks at the detail shop hadn't made sure to secure the anchor and it probably didn't help that most of the rubber spikes were worn and some were missing altogether. So when I was driving, the mat must have slid forward and bunched up under the pedals. So the moral of my tale -- make sure your floor mats are properly installed. And how do you do that? Since there are countless types of mats, installation methods vary -- but the bottom line is -- follow the instructions that come with your mats!

Some automobiles -- like my 4x4 -- come with anchor hooks already in place. For those, if you're installing or replacing your mats, your best move is to simply purchase/install mats that are especially designed for use in your make/model vehicle. Sometimes this means going to the dealer, and sometimes you can find aftermarket products. Thanks to Internet shopping, though, this is a lot easier than it was a decade ago. Now if you don't have anchor hooks, that doesn't mean you can just slap in any old mat and be safe. Really pay attention to the products that are out there. A shiny, rubber mat with modest or no rubber spikes on the bottom is probably going to slide around and could potentially cause trouble. Poorly designed floor mats and improper installation can be a hazard, so you'll want to spend some time researching your best options and once you make the purchase -- and this can't be said enough -- follow the instructions. Sometimes, this involves using a utility knife. So if you're uncomfortable with that or you're worried about cutting into the carpet on your floorboard, enlist some help from a friend or neighbor.

Speaking of neighbors -- one of mine just installed some all-weather mats in her new car. Her new mats came with anchor hooks that she had to install prior to installing the mats. She followed the instructions and is pleased with her new mats. When I asked her about it, she said she'd even found a video showing the installation process.

Although installation methods vary, there are a few standard rules you should follow:

Never double up: Do not place two mats on top of each other. You know you've either done it or seen it done -- someone puts an all-weather mat overtop the carpeted driver mat that's already there. Even if the bottom mat is anchored in place/installed correctly, that doesn't help the top mat, which can slide around and become lodged on top of or underneath the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals.

Test your pedals: After you've installed new mats or put your old ones back in after cleaning them, be sure to check to make sure all your pedals are in working order and that the driver's side mat doesn't interfere with your ability to fully press each of them to the floorboard. Of course, make sure your automobile is not running and that it is in park when you do this.

Inspect your driver's side mat with regularity: Even properly installed mats can become dislodged under certain circumstances, or they can be improperly replaced after cleaning, so check the mat's positioning from time to time -- it will only take a few seconds.

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