Given half a chance, most car guys would spend big bucks pimping their wheels. Needless to say, their better half ain’t buying it. So neither are they. While aerodynamic addenda and wikkid wheels are [ultimately] a less costly ego enhancement than regular spa treatments, all car mods tend to appear fairly low on the list of financial priorities known as the family budget. But guys, it’s time to go to the mat. Literally.
Floor mats. Yes, I said floor mats. But not just ANY floor mats. I’m talking high quality rubber, deep-grooved floor mats specifically designed to keep the water and mud off the carpet of your mint 92’ Pontiac Sunfire. I know, I know; contain yourself. The best is yet to come!
If you’re looking for the sine qua non of rubber floor mats, it’s WeatherTech®. Their all-weather mats withstand sub-zero weather without curling, cracking or hardening, for at least ten years! That’s one decade, or seventy dog years (which is just as well if you let Fido in your car). Guaranteed.
Navigate to www.weathertech.com, input your car make and model, and voila! A set of black, tan or gray mats custom-contoured to your car’s curves for about $55, AND you can add matching rear mats for an additional $45 (must be trimmed).
Problem: WeatherTech® mats look a lot like the cheap rubber mats you get at the local auto parts store for ten bucks. Sure they work better. But we’re looking for maximum pimpification. Stand back folks; I’m going OEM!
Audi sells custom-fit floor mats for various models for about $100 to $130. They come in any color you like as long as it’s black, with a contrasting car name logo in white. Yes, that’s twice the freight of a WeatherTech® set, but you gain the fancy logo. So if you forget what car you’re driving, you can simply look down for a reminder (closed course, professional driver). My mats proudly and accurately proclaim allroad.
The mats include mounting holes that affix the rubber widgets into place on the carpeted floor. The design features WeatherTech®-tonic deep-ribbed channels PLUS a high surrounding lip designed to keep liquids from spilling onto the carpet. I tested this premise by removing the driver’s mat from the car and slowly pouring water into the mat until the liquid spilled out of the mat.
As I poured the water ever-so-slowly into the mat, I pondered the usefulness of this experiment. Liquids get to the car’s floor either from the outside via rain, car wash, garden hose, water balloons, etc., and from the inside from drinks, leaking ac, involuntary urination, exploding bottles, etc. Any liquid intrusion (save slow leaks from your shoes) would likely go all over the place– not just on the mat (regardless of the mat’s fluid holding capacity).
I was able to pour seven fluid ounces into the Audi mat before the liquid spilled over the mat’s edge. This is one-sixth the amount of soda in a McDonalds super-sized drink or if you prefer (God knows I do) a twelve-ounce Bud Light. With this low capture level, I concluded that drink spills of any real quantity are going to end-up on the carpet. Therefore, in truth, the mats can only really handle very small spills and minor drips from wet shoes.
Of course, that still leaves another claimed benefit for floor mats: mud and snow protection. However, all floor mats provide a similar service. At least with rubber mats you can easily remove the mud which would have otherwise clung to– and stained– a carpeted floor mat.
The rubber solution also offers psychological benefits. Even if you never go anywhere near mud, having Audi floor mats tells passengers you’re a hardy, adventurous spirit, unafraid to venture off the beaten path to someplace… muddy. Or snowy. Or both.
Well if floor protection is not a major benefit, how about durability?
I used a similar set of Audi mats in an Audi A4 for a period of eighteen months and 15k miles. No snow, mud or spills of any sort occurred on my watch (nor involuntary urination). After that time, the driver’s side mat was worn down where my feet rest. The mat had split along one of the deep ribbed channels, making those dreaded leaks a potentially ruinous problem. This quick wear was really no better than a quality carpeted mat that costs less than half the price.
Overall if you’re into rubber, like to express your ruggedness in your floorware and share my customization compulsion, you will want a set of stylish Original Equipment Manufacturer mats in your car. Yes, they’re basically useless. But your wife won’t mind if you do. Take your victories where you can find ’em lads.