About three weeks ago, Stewart Kayemba asked me to drive him from Bweyogerere to his home in Kyanja in his Toyota Progress. When I stepped on the accelerator pedal, I realised I had to use a lot of energy for the car to move.
I noticed that one of the car mats was positioned on top of the accelerator pedal. I parked to put it in the right position. However, Kayemba quickly asked me to leave the mats just as he had arranged them because this way, he is able to keep those under clean.
Samuel Ibudi, a technical training assistant at Toyota Uganda in Namanve, says the problem starts when your floor mats or car carpets are not lockable. Lockable carpets can be hooked or locked at two edges of the carpet, slightly below the driver’s seat, so that they do not slide towards the pedals. They mostly come in brand new cars.
Sula Kilimani, a mechanic in downtown Kisekka Market, says for second hand cars (which are the majority among Ugandan motorists) that have no provision of locking your mats, the only solution is to drive with one or single carpet on the driver’s side. It should not be the plastic one that you normally place on top but one that has the rubber and woolen side, and face the rubber side upwards. The woolen side hardly slides to the pedal area because of the friction movement it puts up between the woolen car surfaces on which it is placed.
When not locked, Ibudi says, your carpet can easily slide and interfere with pedal operation. These are mainly the clutch, accelerator and brake pedals.
“If your car carpet is not locked, it can slide to the right side (where the accelerator is positioned) and cover the accelerator thereby exposing the brake pedal. When you try to brake, you will not succeed because the accelerator is also being pushed downwards due to the weight of the car carpet,” Ibudi cautions.
Sliding under the pedals
Besides sliding on top of the pedals, your carpet can also sometimes slide under the car pedals because of foot movement. When you, for instance, try to accelerate, you may not get the full power required because the accelerator is not reaching or touching down. You will experience the same scenario with the clutch and brake pedals when shifting gears and braking respectively. “You will either fail to engage the right gear or fail to brake effectively because the car carpet blocked the brake pedal from reaching the bottom. You are likely to ram into other road users including pedestrians or damage your car,” Ibudi says.
The danger of using double carpets
When you have more than one carpet, it is likely that the one on top (normally plastic because it is easy to clean) will slide towards the pedal bottom. This means that you will sometimes experience challenges such as loss of power and the car failing to start if it has a manual transmission because the clutch pedal is not touching the bottom.
“If something interferes with your carpets, you risk poor pedal response of the car when on the road. Imagine you are trying to shift gears but the clutch is not fully functional because of interference from the car carpets, or you are braking and the carpet is instead pushing the accelerator along? This can lead at worst to an accident and loss of life,” Ibudi says.
How to use car carpets
Moses Mugabi, a motorist, agrees with Ibudi and Kilimani, saying there should only be one carpet on the driver’s side. Do not put any additional carpet on top of the other in the name of keeping your car clean.
Don’ts of using car carpets
Besides not placing the car carpets on top of your pedals, ensure that the car carpet does not interfere with the pedals after installation, especially after picking your car from the washing bay. Also, never leave the car carpet creased or folded after placing it back. Make sure it is flat and crease-free.
Never install a car carpet on top of the existing one. Double carpets will limit you from braking, accelerating or shifting gears effectively.
Safe floor mat use
Never use more than one set of floor mats at a time.
Never add towels or other layers of items in addition to or even instead of floor mats.
Use provided retention hooks always if your vehicle has them.
Read the warning label on your factory floor mats, if equipped.
If you are unsure, read your car owner’s manual or check with your professional technician for help.
If your retention hooks are broken or missing, see your dealer for replacements.