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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Replacing Automotive Carpet
By Mike Bumbeck/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyDifficult
Estimated Time300 minutes
300 minutes
High-Traffic Area Turnaround -
Just as the carpet in a house gets worn out right in front of the door, the carpet in your car usually gets worn out first on the driver's side. Everything stuck to your feet becomes unstuck and embedded into the carpet. Those same feet eventually wear away the plush fibers leaving only a threadbare version of a once luxurious carpet. Worse is that everything falling from your or your passenger's hands, which first doesn't stain shirts or pants or expensive upholstery, lands on the carpet. That juicy burger with extra mayo and mustard may not have been such a good idea after all. Drops of catsup, bits of fries, tablespoons or gallon cups of soda—whatever kids can spill.
Replacing Automotive Carpet
And don't forget dogs. It all adds up. Winter or heavy rains can also bring moisture into the carpet by way of leaks, adding fuel to the fire, so to speak. If things get to the point where no amount of stinky trees hanging from the mirror, or under-seat olfactory cover-ups can mask the unmistakable odor of old carpet, then it may be time for an all-out replacement.
Be Prepared
The first step in replacing an automotive carpet is finding a replacement. Unlike the carpet on the living room floor, the carpet in a car or truck has to negotiate over hills and valleys. The automotive floor is anything but flat. The transmission hump, seat mounts, up onto the firewall—an automotive carpet has to be molded to shape. Fortunately there are a few companies that make replacement carpets. Easy, right?
Not so fast. While replacing the carpet in a car may seem like a relatively simple task, one must be prepared for a load of work. First, everything on top of the carpet must be removed. Seats. Center consoles. Seat belt anchors. Sill plates. Kick plates. Side panels. Rear seats. Electrical connectors. The list goes on and on. After that's all done, pulling the carpet may present even more work. If any rust or corrosion is found on the floor pan it must be repaired, or at the very least stopped with a rustproof paint. Rust never sleeps. Prepping the floor pan may also involve removing crusty old jute padding and whatever other buried treasure that managed to survive under the carpet. Do not remove any tar-based goop from the floor pan unless you're heading out to the racetrack and you enjoy toasty interior temperatures along with lots of noise. These materials are designed to absorb both sound and heat, and should be left alone. Mark any disconnected electrical connectors with tape or tags.
Step 1 - Park the vehicle in a spot that allows full opening of all doors. Set the parking brake. Remove the sill plates.
Remove the Sill Plates
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