Car window tinting can give a stylish look to your ride and improve visibility by reducing glare.
Fans of tinted windows say the darkened glass slows fading of interior surfaces due to sunlight exposure. They also say tinting helps keep the temperature inside a car cooler.
Tinted car windows also bring an additional layer of privacy and security because it is more difficult to see inside the automobile. In some cases, medical conditions may require a car owner to have tinted windows.
Before you choose to darken your vehicle’s glass, consider these tips about car tinting, the types available, and the pros and cons of each. And before buying, learn about the state laws around window tinting so you can make an informed decision.
1. What is Window Tint?
Most newer cars offer safety glass that’s coated or treated to provide some window tinting to keep out harmful ultraviolet rays. Aftermarket window tinting is a method of applying a thin film to the interior surface of a vehicle’s windows. This material is designed to darken a car’s windows to block UV light and reduce glare from the sun and headlights.
Car window tint film is available in a variety of materials and shades. A standard performance measurement used for car window tinting is visible light transmission. A darker shade of car tinting has a lower percentage of light transmission. The tint affects how much light gets into the car and plays a part in reducing glare and how well a driver can see.
2. States Determine Tinting Laws
State laws regulate the level of darkness permitted for auto glass tinting. Window tint laws are created as a safety issue for drivers to see other vehicles better when driving and for law enforcement officers as they approach a car.
When determining how much to tint windows, you must check your state’s department of motor vehicles to learn about the regulations, such as the legal light transmission levels. Once you determine the levels allowed, you can choose the appropriate window tint film for your car.
State laws specify the level of tint allowed for each window of passenger vehicles. All states have restrictions on tinting applied to front windshields.
Most states limit the amount of tint on a car’s windshield or front side windows.
Check Out This Sample of State Laws:
- Seven states (Alaska, California, Delaware, Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island) and the District of Columbia require 70% light transmission.
- Connecticut requires 65% transmission of light with a window tint compliance sticker from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
- New Mexico allows the darkest tinting for front side windows, permitting 20% light transmission.
- Vermont, New Hampshire, and New Jersey prohibit any aftermarket tinting on the windshield and front side windows.
- Also, state laws for automotive window tinting on SUVs and minivans may differ from limitations placed on sedans and coupes. Commercial vehicles often have additional or different requirements and restrictions.
State laws may change annually. Reputable window tinting companies hired to install aftermarket tint will be familiar with regulations in your area. However, your compliance with the law for car window tinting could change if you move to another state.
3. Window Tint Law Exemptions
Many states provide car window tinting exemptions for drivers who have a legitimate medical or vision-related need to limit their exposure to sunlight. For example, a medical exemption certificate for dark window tinting may be issued to a person diagnosed with lupus or other medical conditions.
Typically, the driver with sunlight sensitivity may apply for a permit, waiver, or exemption from the state’s tinting law through the department of motor vehicles. The driver must submit the application with documentation that supports the medical necessity.
4. Window Tinting Penalties
Penalties vary for violating a state’s laws on tinted car windows.
Law enforcement officers use a special device to measure the amount of light passing through a tinted car window. If the visible light transmission doesn’t fall within the acceptable range, you could be issued a citation.
Depending on the jurisdiction — and the officer — penalties can be as minor as a warning, a “fix it” order that requires removing the car window tint film, or a fine for exceeding the legal limit for window tinting. While a first violation could bring a $100 fine, a second infraction might have a fine twice that amount.
Georgia, for example, is among the states with harsh penalties for violating window tinting laws. The state stipulates that driving a vehicle with illegal window tint or installing unlawful material is a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months. Additionally, the law applies to all vehicles, whether registered in Georgia or another state.
5. Car Tinting Installation Options
Automotive window tinting is a popular option for drivers wanting to customize their car. There likely are businesses near you that specialize in tinting car windows. Car detail shops often provide tint installation service, as do some dealerships.
A common question asked by people interested in darkened glass is how much does it cost to tint car windows. There isn’t a simple answer because there are many factors involved that will affect car window tinting prices. Among them are:
- Your region.
- The quality and type of tint you want to install.
- The model of your vehicle.
- How much glass space you plan to cover.
In very general terms, and depending on the quality and features of the material used, car window tinting costs for a sedan can be $200 to $500. For large vans and SUVs, the price for installing window tint could reach $1,000 or more.
Options are available for those wanting to learn how to tint car windows and do the work at home to save some money. You can purchase car window tint film by the roll. Some manufacturers offer DIY window tint kits that come precut for specific vehicle models. The installation method is simple, but the job requires a significant amount of patience, careful attention to detail, and a level of skill that comes after plenty of practice.
Car tinting can be done by professionals in about two hours or less, depending on the number of windows. DIY window tinting by a first-timer will probably take much longer. Perhaps the longest part of the process is cleaning the windows before applying the tinted film. Even a tiny bit of lint on a window can produce an unprofessional outcome.
6. Different Kinds of Tint
When choosing what’s best for you, you’ll want to explore the five different types of window tint available, and the pros and cons of each.
Ceramic window tint will cost you more. This type of film brings maximum visibility, as it absorbs UV rays and high levels of light.
- Blocks UV light.
- Resists fading.
- Ceramic tinting improves the car value.
- No heat gets through the windows.
- Resists fading.
- Prevents glare.
When you apply carbon tint, you’ll get a matte finish on your windows.
- Durable and long-lasting.
- Protects the car’s interior from harmful UV rays.
- Prevents fading.
- Keeps you warm in winter, cool in summer.
- No “mirror” look.
- Provides black appearance.
- A bit more expensive than dyed and metallic tints.
Metallic Window Tint
This type of tint has the look of metal. It bonds to your windows and helps make them shatterproof while blocking UV rays and preventing scratches.
- Works durably to protect your windshield.
- Resists fading.
- Blocks UV rays and glare.
- Keeps the heat out in summer and the cold in winter.
- Interferes with mobile phone technology, radio signals, and tire pressure monitoring systems.
- Costs more than dyed film.
- Gives off a shiny, metallic appearance.
Hybrid Window Tint
When you desire a tint that’s both metallic and dyed, this hybrid makes an ideal match.
- Blocks UV rays, heat, and glare from the sun and headlights.
- Provides a dark, yet crisp look.
- No reflective appearance.
- Durable yet less expensive than metallic tint.
- No interior fading.
- A bit more expensive than dyed tint.
Dyed window tint brings an adhesive layer of film with a polyester topcoat with dye between both.
- Costs less and is the least expensive option.
- Absorbs solar heat so it never enters your car.
- Provides a dark appearance.
- Protects against interference with any electronics.
- Fades over time.
- Give off a bubble appearance when not installed properly.
- Layers can separate.
- Blocking properties are not as effective as other window tints.
7. Removing Window Tint Film
People choose to add window tinting to their cars for a variety of reasons. There also are plenty of reasons for car owners to remove window tint film, too.
- “Fix it” citation for violating window tint laws.
- To proactively comply with tinting regulations when moving to a new state.
- Getting a fresh tint installation.
Owners might choose to remove tinting to prepare for a trade-in or vehicle sale. Because some state laws such as Minnesota’s prohibit people from selling cars with illegal tint, dealers might view aftermarket tinted windows as a potential headache instead of an attractive feature. The increasing popularity of online car buying makes it easier to purchase a vehicle from another state, where tinting restrictions are different.
Whatever the reason for learning how to remove tint from car windows, the process is straightforward and can be accomplished using standard tools. A heat gun or high-power hairdryer is needed, along with a new razor blade.
Steps to Removing Window Tint
- Loosen. First, carefully use a razor blade to loosen a corner edge of the tint film.
- Remove. When the loose edge is big enough to grasp with your fingertips, gently pull the film away from the window as you use the heat gun to weaken the adhesive.
- Scrape. After you remove the film, use the razor blade to scrape off the remaining glue.
- Clean. Using glass cleaner, wipe the window clean with a cloth or paper towel.
Detachable Sun Shades
If blocking direct sunlight is a primary concern, removable sun shades are an inexpensive and much less-permanent alternative to tinted windows.
These mesh screens are commonly found shielding passengers from the sun’s rays. Most often used to protect children in the back seat from the bright light and heat of the sun, these simple devices are easy to remove and install when needed. You can use basic models that attach to windows using suction cups. Some feature a retractable screen. Other varieties stick to the window by static cling.
Removable baby car sun shades are legal when used in rear seat windows.
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