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WeatherTech All-Weather Mat.

Joanne Elves/The Globe and Mail

Summer it's sand, fall it's mud, winter it's endless melting snow and road salt, and spring it's slush. That's what your footwear drags into the car. We won't even go into what you spill. Can your floor mats do their job properly or do they slide around and cause you grief?

Frankly, inexpensive or improperly fitting floor mats are wasting your time and money. If they aren't form-fitting or don't have a hook system or claws that grip the floor carpet, they tend to float around. The kids kick them under the front seats, leaving the carpet exposed to dropped Smarties and spilled drinks. If the mats in the front slip forward under the dash they could bunch under the pedals and pose a hazard.

So, what do you need? Mats or liners?

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If you want to protect the interior of your car, don't settle on "it'll do for now." Find coverage that will do the best job. If you are mostly driving in the city or rarely roam in the ruts, floor mats covering the floor space is what you need. If you are heading for the hills and expect the elements to follow you home, consider floor liners that fit the entire foot-well and go up the sides.

Mats

Rims and Ridges:

Look for high edges around the entire floor portion of the mat to stop water from draining onto the carpet. Look for high ridges and grooves designed to move water from behind the pedals and away from your shoes into the catch basin. Avoid the cute kitty motif or branded sport crests. They do nothing to keep your clothes clean, catch that excess moisture or help with the resale value of your vehicle.

Under the mat:

Look for a locking system to stop the mats from roaming. The back should have nibs or teeth that grip the carpet or holes to lock onto the OEM floor hooks.

Thickness:

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Look for soft, thick material that takes advantage of properties of both plastic and rubber. Thick mats with deep grooves will keep your pants cleaner.

Avoid thin floor mats. They slip around and tend to dry out, curl and crack. And, worst of all, they can't handle lots of snow, mud or gravel.

Suggestions:

The WeatherTech All-Weather Mats meet all the requirements. They are soft, thick-walled, sit securely in place and force the water into a deep-rimmed catch area. These can be custom-sized direct from the factory. Front-row mats start at $84.95 for the pair, including shipping. Or, to save some cash, you can purchase the AVM (All-Vehicle Mat Set) and follow the lines to trim the mats to fit the floor space. The full set starts at $73 at Canadian Tire.

Michelin universal all-weather floor mats are also excellent at moving the liquid and dirt away from your shoes, but make sure they fit the contours and the floor space of your vehicle. The full Michelin set costs $41.99 at Canadian Tire.

If you want to step into your car and say, "Baby, I'm worth it!" check out the GGBailey custom-fit, industry first, All-Weather Textile car mats. The woven fabric looks like a fine Berber carpet, traps liquids and moves dirt and sand away from the surface. Regular vacuuming and residential carpet cleaning products will keep them pristine. Front-row mats start at US$63 a pair plus shipping.

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To really dress up your car, consider the GGBailey Car Couture mat made from 70 oz. plush carpet. Designs include animal prints and lovely Oriental carpet designs.

Floor liners

Heavy-duty coverage comes with a price, but if you want to extend the life of the vehicle, a custom-sized liner is the way to go. They collect everything and clean up easily at the car wash.

Look for floor liners that are custom fit for your vehicle's make, model and year. They should fit the foot-well and rise up the walls tight to the carpet. Make sure they rise far enough up behind the pedals to protect the carpet from outstretched, mud-coated boots.

Suggestions:

WeatherTech DigitalFit FloorLiners are custom made from high-density, tri-extruded material moulded for most makes and models of vehicles. Liners start at $159.95; includes shipping.

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TuxMat is a Canadian company constructing custom-sized floor liners that are said to rival the WeatherTech liners. Front-row liners start at $145.90; includes shipping.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Matt Bubbers takes the earth-shattering Mercedes-AMG E 63 S wagon for a spin. This ultimate family hauler has over 600 horsepower on tap, but such power comes at a cost; the wagon starts at over $100,000.
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