If you have a car that you want to keep in reasonably nice shape and kids, then you have a problem. Kids, and car seats, are a sure-fire way to wreck the back seats of any automobile.
The solution? A Clek Mat-Thingy car seat mat.
What Is The Mat-Thingy?
The Clek Mat-Thingy is a rubber mat that serves as protector for your car’s seat when you are placing a child’s car seat on it. The mat spreads out the force of the car seat on the seat material, preventing rips and scuffs. The mat also extends out past the car seat so it catches food, sand, dirt, water, and other things that might drop from the car seat.
The Mat-Thingy is, of course, compatible with LATCH system so it’ll work with any modern car and car seat combination.
Simply put, the Mat-Thingy is a rubber mat that is about two feet by three feet, with a fold at the front. Most of the mat is on the top of the car seat while some hangs down the front (about 5 inches). This overhang prevents kids’ shoes from damaging or dirtying the seat.
Why Do You Need A Car Seat Mat?
Child car seats are tough on cars in two main reasons. First of all, children in car seats generate incredible messes. Between sand, dirt, food, water, toys, crumbs, and who knows what else, you want something around a car seat to catch all this stuff. But you already knew about this, so why else do you want a car seat mat?
Car seats, when properly installed on the back seat of a car, will compress the fabric and underlying cushion’s considerably. This can do permanent damage to the seats, which will mean a lowering in a value of the car, as well as unsightly marks in the car seat.
Case in point: I had Clek Fllo car seat installed in the back of a Toyota Camry for a few months recently. It was tightly installed with the LATCH mechanism and not really moved, as we used it almost every day. When I recently picked it up to move the Clek to another car, what I found beneath was concerning.
First of all, there was a major mess. I wasn’t shocked by this, but it was worse than expected. Second, the Clek had caused a rip in the fabric of the car’s back passenger seat. A seam of the fabric seat had ripped wide open, about a two inch hole, in a relatively new Camry. This of course is an aesthetic problem, not a safety concern, but it was quite annoying as the Clek is an expensive car seat and I wouldn’t expect it to damage the material. I’ve owned a few Camrys and never seen the seat material rip before.
The installation of the mat isn’t hard at all: You start with an empty back seat, you put your car seat or booster on top and then install the car seat as you normally would. I’ve done this recently with a Clek Fllo and a Clek Oobr and it went smoothly on both.
The installation of the car seat is slightly more difficult after but only because the fit with the LATCH is a little tighter with the mat back there. The mat is also non-slip so it makes it a little tougher to slide the car seat into its position.
The Mat-Thingy isn’t cheap, selling for about $40. That said, I’m currently using two and would recommend them, as they make clean-up easier and they protect my car seats. Because they basically last forever and they prevent damage to my car, I see them as a no-brainer.
Honestly I wasn’t thrilled about spending an extra $80 after getting a new (for me) car and new car seats, but the thought of getting dinged when selling my car for the back seats being ruined made this an easy purchase. If was to lease a car, I’d be even more enthusiast about this purchase as I would not look forward to returning a leased car after two or three years of car seat wear-and-tear.