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Special Projects 101: Part 5: New Car Makeover 2021 – New Rubber Solves Mysterious Flooding

rubber car makeover restoration project

My makeover project for the car had to take a backseat after June last year as I get to travel less on the road and inability to purchase new changes like rubber linings for the car due to the pandemic. So I rather focussed on the car being kept clean and polished to ensure that it looks new as much as possible. I finally decided to switch my point of servicing the car as it was getting expensive to service an old car at the authorised service centre. Image source: 5-Minutes Craft Youtube

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Mysterious Flooding in Car

I actually had this problem for some time now but it was not bad as before and often it will go unnoticed. On the surface, I have a rubber and normal carpet for the car flooring which often is kept clean. But at one time, it was raining cats and dogs for days and my car is on the outside for a considerable time. It is usually drenched wet when I want to drive out.

I often had to spend a good 10-15 minutes wiping the water off the windows and then leaving the cleaning towels for drying. I noticed the carpet often gets wet and remains wet for a long time so I had to take it out to dry under the hot sun often as well. The flooring however remains wet and I had to use sponges and towels to wipe the wet areas till it starts to dry.

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(Frankly speaking, there are 1001 ways of water getting into the car cabin so one needs to do a proper checklist of areas to check and rectify. If one checks other videos, there are other areas that one needs to check including the underside of the car which is exposed to the harsh elements on the road. The water inside the car especially old cars is bad news)

However, how and when the flooring gets wet started to become a big mystery. And the situation was getting worse with a pool of water actually collected on the flooring of the car causing a very bad smell and I am pretty sure, rust to the flooring areas of the car.

So I started to do my research and check online if others are facing the same problem. I initially thought the flooring must have some holes somewhere so the rainwater starts to come in as I drive over the wet roads but it was getting wet even though I park the car under the porch. I snapped some photos of the wet carpets and asked my expert mechanic for advice. He messaged me back, saying that he needs to check but it is usually the case of the door rubber has hardened and needs to be replaced.

Cheaper Solution Online

Before I send over the car to the mechanic to check and I know that it will take him a couple of days of dismantling the flooring carpets and double-check all the rubber sealants, I decided to do what I can do on my part namely replacing the rubber carpet so that water does not seep in from wet shoes (the existing rubber carpet had some holes due to the wear and tear).

Another is to check the various water outlets and drainages as prescribed in Youtube videos so that it is not clogged when inspected visually. There is a high chance that it may be clogged with tree leaves & flowers as I often park the car under the tree. I did not sense anything clogged but I will definitely ask the mechanic to open up and check the inner drainage when I send the car for the next service.

car water rubber makeover flood

Then one fine day when it is bright sunny on the outside, I decided to do some experiments to see where the water is sneaking in. I hose down at each door, ensuring that I cover all parts of the door and then check on the inside to see if any water had leaked in.

I noticed that almost all 4 doors have water collected near the door rubber but one was worse with the water collected and overflowing into the cabin. It seems like this is one way the water sneaks into the cabin. So I decided to buy replacement rubber linings for all the doors whilst waiting for proper inspection.

DIY Rubber Replacement

Car Rubber Proton Makeover Water Flood

I seriously doubt it is the original although it had the Proton Genuine Part sticker on the packages. Each of the rubber linings is sold online for RM38 per door although you can save a measly RM4 if you buy all 4 doors at the same time. It took more than a week for the supplier to pack and deliver the order despite it being a locally sourced product. I had to check several online suppliers who were supplying the same items so that it fits the model of my car.

Car Rubber Proton Makeover Water Flood

The rubber linings were packed well but they did not need any air-bubbles packing for obvious reasons. I said that I doubt it is an original part despite the Proton sticker because it was not a combined rubber unlike the original. It means one needs to measure and cut the extra which looked simple in their “how to do” videos.

Car Rubber Proton Makeover Water Flood Rust

The thing that I most dreaded when I first found water inside the cabin is the rust which is worse than just a bad smell. I found this rust under the old rubber lining which means water has been collecting under it for some time now. I cleaned the rust and so-called washed it with a good load of WD-40 to clean the rust out.

And to seal it off, I sprayed some rubber paint on the area before I install the new rubber linings. I am pretty sure that there are rusts in other parts of the car which are not visible to the naked eyes. For that one, I need my mechanic to strip down the flooring & the undercarriage and check for signs of rust.

Car Rubber Proton Makeover Water Flood

Because it is not a combined version like the original, one needs to measure and cut at the appropriate place so that both ends will join seamlessly. Easier said than done as there are also 2 metal linings inside the rubber linings which makes it difficult to cut cleanly. The ends are not in a straight line and require further cuts to ensure it is joined with the minimum gap.

The first door lining that I installed had a huge gap but when I realigned the rubber linings, somehow I can join it without any gaps. Still, it is not a clean joint which is exposed to leakages if it is raining very heavily. I plan to spray it with a good dose of rubber paint to completely seal it.

Final Say

Since the last makeover works in June last year, I have actually been silently trying to learn to sew leather coverings for some of the leather parts inside the car but it was not successful as I did not have the right tools and skills with leather. So this part of the car makeover remains elusive and may not be done so soon. It is not that I don’t have a solution or the budget for it but the problem is leaving the car for a few days for the measurement & installation.

However, this incident of finding water inside the cabin showed that the makeover project also needs repairs and replacements of the parts that we usually do not consider as parts prone to wear and tear. Rubber linings at the door are just one of the parts of the replacement process as there are also rubber linings at the bottom of the door and also one near the roof. One needs to double-check all the hoses and water outlets and I plan to do this as much as possible myself to save cost and time.

The bottom line of the makeover project is to ensure the car not only looks new but also comfortable and safe. So for this year, I will look into the aspect of safety more than the aspect of comfort and looks (this I am covering with proper car care from Osren).

To be continued…

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