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When I scored my new Family Truckster four years ago, I knew the types of abuse I’d be asking it to put up with. I routinely tote screaming, active kids and their friends to practices, games, and events. I’ve led many a family road trip across the mighty United States Interstate system. I’ve hauled the foulest-smelling goalie gear known to youth hockey. I’ve loaded the Truckster to the brim to support my mother-in-law’s craft show hobby. And I’ve used it to retrieve mulch, haul pavers, and transport bikes and dogs. So I knew I’d need to protect the cargo area, but didn’t want to shell out the $100-$150 for an OEM part. Thus a cheap alternative: rubber floor mats.

I’ve always tried to protect my cargo areas. I had a bed liner in my F-150 from the day I bought it back in 1999. I asked my father to rhino-line the bed of his Kawasaki ATV Mule he uses at the lake home, and I broke down and purchase the cargo tray for the well that the minivan’s third seat folds into. My dad always said if he had his way, the floors of his vehicles would be made of concrete so he could just hose it out when he was done. But I knew there had to be a cheaper way to protect the cargo area — so the first stop after I picked up the 2007 Honda Odyssey was the big box to score some cheap rubber mats.

The mats were less than $15 each and two of them did the trick. They’ve managed to keep the carpeted mini-van cargo area clean from some of the worse loads I’ve thrown into it. They fold up easy, lay flat in the third seat well storage area when not in use, and are easy to clean. So for less than $30 I’ve attained peace of mind for four years and saved at least $70.

Do I miss my big 4X4 truck? Who wouldn’t? Especially after checking out Sean and Chuck’s recently-acquired twin 2008 Ford Rangers. But for people-hauling and a lot better gas mileage, I can’t complain about my past four years driving the Odyssey. Its versatility has been fantastic.

What tricks do you use to protect your vehicle trunks and cargo areas? What’s worked and what’s failed for you? Let us know in comments.

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12 Responses to Cheap Cargo Mats

  1. Jerry says:

    My dearly departed Astro was a passenger van when I purchased it. I bought it for work but went for this instead of the cargo van because of all the added features in the passenger van. Removed all rear seating. Big box provided the outdoor carpet that I wanted – all nylon, very low “pile”. About an hour to cut and fit it in snugly under the plastic side walls. It took about 10 minutes to get this loose again, throw it in the driveway and hose it clean.

  2. Chris says:

    Jerry: That’s a fantastic idea.

    My parents have done something similar with pretty much every minivan they’ve ever owned — they keep a big cardboard box (flattened out) and/or rugs in the back.

    Also did something similar under all the sinks in the house. When we got the bathroom and kitchen linoleum re-done in the late 80s, my mom kept the scraps and cut pieces to use as shelf liners under all the sinks so that spills can be easily wiped up. All the big-box stores sell scraps/remnants of linoleum and carpet for HUGE discounts (protip: prices on these are definitely negotiable) if anyone wants to go that route.


  3. We have the one vehicle in our family and it’s a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan with Sto and Go seating. What I like about it best is the ability for me to carry full 4×8 sheets of plywood and drywall. Any lumber over 10 feet goes on the roof racks. I custom cut a carpet for the entire floor, but for sheer versatility, especially when I have a whole load of lumber scrap and drywall (I live in a 40 year old house that I am systematically rebuilding) to cart to the dump, this liner that I purchased from Lee Valley (http://goo.gl/05tRz) does a great job…

  4. ecrusch says:

    I use a thick quarry conveyor belt material to line the floor of my Pontiac Montana.
    Wears like iron. Cleans easily, and looks like a floor mat.

  5. Brau says:

    When I bought a new car, the dealer wanted about $200 for a mat. Uh, no. I bought a heavy rubberized 6×4 doormat from Costco for $20 and cut my mat out of that. A decade ago now, the mat still looks great and the carpet underneath remains new. Easy to clean too – just pull out, shake, replace.

  6. Joe says:

    I got one of the cheap(ish… $50) custom sized protectors for my PT Cruiser off of ebay. it folds over to protect the rest of the floor when the seats are folded up. I have abused it for years (moving twice, taking trash to the dump, hauling cinder-blocks, etc.) and it seems to be holding up just fine. Its rubberized foam, the foam is a bit brittle and cracks, but the rubberized side is still in tact, so all is well.

  7. Tom says:

    My Pontiac Vibe has a hard plastic floor (as well as the back of the back seats that fold down flat) with t-track with removable tiedowns that run the length.

    Sheet goods go on the roofrack, but with the front seat folded flat I can carry 8′ boards and close the back. Longer boards go out the glass window on the hatch.

    I can just vac anything that spills. There is also a carpet mat that lives in the back for the rest of the time.

    My in-laws use yard waste bags to protect the back of the car. They are cheap and fold up.

  8. cheerIO says:

    I took the rear seat backs out of my first car, a 1993 Civic hatchback, to make the cargo area from hell. I filled in the dips on the rear seat cushion with some foam glued to super thin particle board making the whole area flat. Then I went a car stereo place that had tonnes of fabric to wrap speaker boxes that matched the interiors. I found a perfect match to the trunk fabric for real cheap and made one huge cover out of it. I miss that car, 37mpg, fast as all get out, could hold everything I own in the back, and it had a little tailgate on back you could fold down and sit on. Awesome.

  9. shotdog says:

    Ten dollar shower curtain.

  10. Toolfreak says:

    Visit your local truck/van accessory store and inquire if they have any old cargo mats for truck beds or van interiors. If they have been around a good while, chances are they have some hidden away in the warehouse collecting dust.

    I used to work at an accessory store and we THREW AWAY brand new rolled up rubber floor mats when they were no longer for current body style vehicles. We also tossed the interior work van mats when they were either not wanted by the customer, or were using a different longer/shorter mat that came seperate.

    Needless to say I grabbed the best of the bunch and made a custom liner for my SUV. Now I have rear cargo area protection, and I even made a custom piece for the rear seats that fits perfect when they are down, and rolls up back to the cargo area when they are up. They are easily removable and washable, and are high quality floor-mat type rubber that won’t mark up or mess up carpet, vinyl, or any other surface. Bonus use: they can be thrown up on the roof as paint protection when having to carry a load up there.

  11. Harbor Freight 5 bucks a set on coupon, floor pads, and a knife to cut them down, works great.

  12. Patron Zero says:

    I have a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, in the rear area I have a large movers blanket folded to fit with an inexpensive indoor-outdoor mat laid on top.
    Menard’s DIY-hardware and Harbor Freight are both great places to find such items at a very low cost.

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