What is the nastiest project that everyone who is restoring a car or truck will have to do at some point in time? If you said, replacing the carpet. You are correct. The job is filthy, smelly, and often very time-consuming. So there was a little reluctance and trepidation when I placed an order with Stock Interiors for a new carpet kit for my 1998 Jeep Wrangler.
Fortunately, installing new carpet in a Jeep Wrangler is pretty easy. Like the OEM carpet, the Stock Interiors carpet installs in six separate pieces rather than one large one (Jeep designers did this to allow quick removal before taking your Jeep into the mud). So having multiple pieces means an easy install–no need to remove the seats and center console (though you will have to loosen the bolts to the console so you can tuck the carpet underneath). For this job, you’ll need to keep the old OEM carpet pieces to use as a template to help make any additional cuts to the new carpet. You’ll also need to remove the old heat shields from the front two pieces since the new carpet doesn’t include them.
For those wondering about the color of the new carpet, I couldn’t find an exact match to the OEM blue-gray color, but Stock Interiors did offer a pretty close alternative, called “Steel Blue” (code 8935), that was a little darker and matched the OEM seats extremely well. Their website offers different piles, and of these I ordered their basic or entry level, “Plush Cut Pile.” I did this because it’s a Jeep and the carpet will get dirty/wet/muddy eventually, so I saw no need to waste money on a top-of-the-line carpet kit that would eventually get trashed. Total cost for my kit, without shipping, was $232.
To install the Stock Interiors carpet kit, you’ll need several items. First and foremost, if you don’t already have a pair, I highly recommend that you buy a sharp pair of scissors. It will make cutting the new carpet so much easier. You’ll also need a roll of carpet seam tape or duct tape for the two small carpet seams around the rear roll bar on the wheel wells, a utility knife (box cutter) for making micro cuts, and a socket wrench with a 1/4 inch socket and two extenders to remove the hex screws holding the center console in place. You’ll also need a can of spray adhesive to glue the old heat shields to the underside of the front pieces of carpet.
Before installing the carpet, I recommend that you clean and vacuum the floorboards. Doing this gave me an excellent opportunity to inspect the floorboard on my new Jeep. I was amazed at how good the rear floorboards and wheel wells looked–the paint and overall appearance of them looked like they came fresh from the factory. There wasn’t a speck of rust anywhere. Only the front floorboards showed sign of wear and that was in the paint only, no rust. I used a good general purpose cleaner to remove any dirt I came across.
|The kit as it came from UPS.|
|Wiping the floorboards before the install.|
|The old carpet is needed as a template for new cuts.|
As I stated earlier, the installation was pretty easy. I installed the two wheel well pieces of carpet first followed by the large cargo bay piece. Due to the rounded shape, these two pieces didn’t stay affixed to the wheel wells very well. Some like to use spray adhesive or carpet tape to hold the carpet in place around them, but I opted not to do this. With the rear seat in place and with the locking trunk installed, I found that the carpet didn’t bulge or shift much at all. As for the cargo bay piece, I did have to go back and tweak on the eight tie down cuts two or three times in order to ensure proper alignment with all.
|View of the passenger side wheel well.|
|View of the carpet in the cargo bay.|
|Seam tape is needed for this small seam.|
The only real issue I encountered during the entire installation was with the flat piece of carpet for the cargo bay. Stock Interiors made two diagonal cuts along the back edge for brackets that aren’t found on the 1998 model of the Wrangler (see pic below). An email with pics to the Stock Interiors customer service department quickly alleviated this problem and within a week I had a new piece of carpet without these two cuts (I should add that having this extra “bad” piece of carpet allowed me to recover the top of my locking trunk unit so that the carpet matched the rest of the interior).
|Original cargo bay piece with bad factory cuts.|
The rest of the install was pretty straightforward with no complications. For the two front pieces you’ll need to ensure that they’re folded in half, with the carpet side up, when positioning in place as this makes the installation of the carpet much easier. You’ll need to loosen the hex screws to the center console to install not only the two front pieces but also the rear floorboard piece. And don’t forget to glue the two heat shields from the old carpet before installing them. Otherwise, the carpets will get scorched by the heat generated along the transmission tunnel. For the driver’s side carpet you’ll also need to cut two small holes near the top for the supporting posts (these prevent the carpet from shifting and causing a hazard during driving).
|Passenger side front carpet installed.|
|Driver’s side carpet newly installed.|
Overall, this was a fun, easy, and very worthwhile project. The new carpet really freshens the appearance (and smell) of the interior and gets rid of 17 years worth of dirt, grime, lipstick stains, and who knows what else. The quality of the American made Stock Interior’s carpet kit was excellent with the molds, bends, and cuts for the most part very accurate–only minimal trimming was required during the installation. More importantly, the cost for their kit was very reasonable. So if you’re thinking about buying a new carpet kit for your vehicle, I would highly recommend buying one from Stock Interiors.