TECH TIP Technical Index

Replacing Your VW Carpet

by Mike C. -

Carpet is another one of those things that seem to make or break the feel of the interior of your VW. It can make your ride feel its age or seem like a spring chicken. Just keeping it vacuumed can make a lot of difference, but it is certainly nice to have new, stain-free carpet under foot. If all the original carpet is still intact and not torn or irreversibly stained, take it out of the car and to a laundromat. It may take about two or three tries to get it really clean, but the difference will astound you. If it shredded up and went down the drain, you needed new carpet anyhow. If it held together, you will be rewarded with like-new, fresh-smelling original carpet that will gain points with the restoration crowd. As an added plus, you didnít spend much at all cleaning it. Sometimes, however, carpet replacement is necessary if you want a custom look or the original is gone or some sections are missing or torn.

VW carpets come in all different price ranges, from $29.95 to $149.95. The old rule somewhat holds true here in that you get what you pay for. But, you can make the less expensive stuff look pretty good with some care, especially if you plan to fix Ďer up and sell it. Usually the cheaper carpet kits donít come precut for heater, shifter, and seatbelt holes, plus they are generally not as durable. If you plan on keeping the car or want to do a really good restoration, save your pennies and get the better carpet sets. The difference is readily apparent in fit, finish, and quality of the material used. Iíve seen carpet kits costing about $50 that look good and fit well. Itís up to you and what your plans are for your beloved VW. The most expensive kits will include the rear luggage compartment carpet as well as complete coverage from the kick panels and complete tunnel and rear seat area coverage.

To do the job, you will need the following:

  • Carpet Kit*
  • 2 Cans of Spray Adhesive
  • Wide Scraper
  • Box Cutter
  • Insulation**

*If you want a color other than black or grey, it will be more expensive.

**If your floorboard insulation has seen better days or you have new floor pans, youíll need some insulation (tarboards or aluminized jute padding). See the sound deadening articles for more information on how to do the insulation.

  1. Take out all the seats, seat belts, and rear kick panels. More than likely, the carpet that is in there will be pretty well glued in place, so it will take some yanking to pull it out. You can peel up a section and then get under it with the wide scraper to help it up without tearing it out in chunks or messing up the insulation underneath. Start with the main floor pieces and then the kick panels, side carpet trim, and then end with the rear luggage compartment if you are replacing this part of it.
  2. Once you have all the old carpet out, vacuum out everything and wipe it down with a damp cloth.
  3. If you are replacing rear luggage compartment carpet, start with it first. Test-fit the main center piece to get a feel of where it needs to go. Actually, if you can hold it in position, you can start tack-gluing it in place from the top, down to help avoid mistakes. Once you have done the final gluing, pulling the carpet back up to reposition it will be pretty hard to do and tearing it is a risk, so it is better to have everything lined up as precisely as possible before really laying on the glue.
  4. Finish the rear compartment with the side pieces that fit over the wheel well humps.
  5. Now fit in the carpet on the sides where the heat channels are. Push the carpet over the metal retaining strip on the body and stretch it over the heat channel to test the fit. You may have to cut the hole for the heater if your kit didnít come pre-cut. Make sure you cut the hole smaller than you think you need it. You can always trim a little more out, but you canít put it back on, so be careful here.
  6. Once you have the holes trimmed, glue the side pieces on. Go ahead, fit and glue the kick panel pieces in. The kick panel carpet overlays the side pieces at the bottom.
  7. Get the main piece that covers the front floorboards and tunnel. If none of the holes are cut, remove the shifter and start cutting the hole by putting a slit where the shifter hole in the tunnel is. Then slit the area where the e-brake base would be.
  8. Once you have fitted these areas, pull and stretch the carpet over the tunnel and glue onto the tunnel. Feel for the seat belt mounting holes and cut a slit for each of these.
  9. Now check for the fit on the floorboard and then glue those parts down. Finally, test-fit and glue in the pieces for the rear floorboards.
  10. If you got glue over-spray on the carpet, take some adhesive remover on an old rag and rub it off. Vacuum the carpet when you are finished and then put the seats and rear kick panels back in.

Some of the carpet suppliers offer matching trunk carpets, floor mats, and rear kick panels to match the carpet you put in. This really makes the VW stand out and have a more modern look. Thereís nothing like the smell of new upholstery in a car, and new carpet will give you that smell. Just be careful not to spill the bratwurst beans on your new carpet.

Your VW maniac and Tech Specialist, Mike Carroll

For Carpeting Kits, be sure to check with Danny, Ray, or Mike Glass at Roy Rogers


Your VW Maniac and tech specialist,

Mike C.