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What Should I Consider When Getting Tinted Windows?

SUV (sport utility vehicle) with tinted windows.
Sports car with tinted windows.
Some states allow tinting on all windows as long as the vehicle is equipped with side mirrors.
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  • Written By: O. Wallace
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 02 August 2014
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For many, tinted windows are best left to teenagers and those who would like to remain incognito. In truth, tinted windows serve a very important function in protecting you and your car from the damaging rays of the sun. The film used for tinted windows is a polyester substrate with a scratch resistant coating on one side and a clear mounting adhesive on the other. When having tinted windows installed, there are many factors to consider.

The concept of using window film for flat glass application was first introduced in the 1960s. Since that time, window tinting has become a huge market, with a wide range of colors and shades available. There are two basic types of tinted windows: metallic performance films, which provide a reflective surface, and the traditional non-reflective film. Tinted windows come in bronze, gray, gold, amber, and many other colors.

The benefits of tinted windows are huge. They block 65% of the sun’s heat and a whopping 99.9% of damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. Not only do they protect the interior and upholstery of the vehicle, but they also protect your eyes from glare and eyestrain and your skin from sun damage. Window film also makes your vehicle’s glass safer by holding shattered glass in place.

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When selecting the right window tint for you, you must first research what is legal in your locality. Every state in the United States has separate laws legislating window tinting. Many countries throughout the world have outlawed window tinting altogether in the interest of public safety. Most professional window tinting companies should be familiar with the law in your town and can provide you with a certificate of compliance in case you get pulled over. Fines for overly tinted windows can run anywhere from 50 to 500 US dollars (USD) if you are out of compliance.

Some states allow tinting on every window in the vehicle, provided you have side mirrors, while others outlaw tinting the windshield and two front windows. The darkness of the tint is also legislated. This is measured by what is called visible light transmission (VLT%), defined as the percentage of visible light that makes it through the tint. Several states make exceptions for medical conditions which require heavy protection from the sun. Once you have determined what’s legal, you can choose from a light tint to the darkest shade allowed.

For recreational vehicles (RVs), boats and cars with sensitive navigational equipment, a non-metallic film should be used, as metallic films can cause interference. Many states significantly reduce the level of reflection that is allowed in reflective films, or outlaw them altogether.

Most people agree that window tinting is best left to the professionals. It not only looks better, but will last longer and is guaranteed. A professional will make sure the tint job is legal and provide a warranty so that it can be fixed if anything goes wrong.

Although tinted windows can be done on your own, a professional will execute the job much better. They have the necessary tools and experience to get the job done right. Of course, you should check out the installer to see if his or her shop is professional and if he or she belongs to the International Window Film Association.

Windows are tinted through the following basic process. First, the window(s) must be properly cleaned and prepped to take the film. Then, the film is precisely cut to fit the window(s). Finally, the film is adhered to the window with mounting solution, then squeegeed smooth. You should end up with a clear window, free of "bubbles," with just the right amount of tinting. Tinted windows can be cleaned after 30 days to ensure proper bonding.

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Discuss this Article

anon949945
Post 42

Why didn't your friend bust a window and get out? As a law enforcement officer, I have removed many windows in wrecks to get to victims. The tint has actually made this easier. The window sticks on the tint film and removes it in one piece rather than having thousands of tiny shards looking for eyes and fingers to get into.

Angel34
Post 41

If you want to give your home a subtle facelift, window tinting is a great way to do just that. Your home will not have a huge change in appearance, but it will allow you to give it that nice little update that you have been looking for.

anon349527
Post 40

There are risks around us constantly. To worry about the risk of tinting your windows is absurd. Get a life, people, and start to enjoy it. Your are more likely to die from impact rather than dying from the tinted window rubbing the side of your face off.

@post no.1: Your neighbor was trapped for 45 minutes, not because no one could see her because of her tinted windows, but because it took 45 minutess for the most intelligent and considerate person to drive by. When in doubt, check it out. Peace.

anon339414
Post 39

Tinted windows decrease your visibility, especially at night. They can increase your stopping distance by as much as 6 percent. That may not sound like much, but it may be the small difference between striking a child or stopping just in time. And let's not forget the new fad of tinting your headlights/taillights. A recent study from a fatal pedestrian collision found that tinted headlights reduced light output as much as 89 percent. Tinting is a dangerous fad that serves no real legitimate purpose.

You can argue that it keeps out UV rays but the bottom line is, all vehicle windows are equipped with a UV barrier from the factory; you just can't see it. Don't believe me? Next time it's hot and sunny out, put your window down and feel the heat burning your arm, then put your window up and see if you feel the same burn.

I agree with a lot of you that it would seem that some are trying to hide something, and that's dangerous for our police officers!

anon329125
Post 38

Think of the risk to police; they walk up the side of the car to investigate, and cannot see what they are holding. Bam! And yes, this has happened.

anon302435
Post 36

What if car windows could be made from transition lenses, without a prescription of course?

anon273299
Post 35

Makes glass stronger. Yeah, right. Side windows are supposed to shatter upon impact, so shards of glass don't go into your head when you hit it.

anon199706
Post 34

I'm from Mexico, and tinted windows here are legal in some parts of the country, but it is rapidly decreasing due to the drug war violence. Although it's usually very sunny during the day, I prefer my safety above anything else. There are some cases where rival drug cartels confuse civilian cars with rival groups and shoot them, mainly because of their tinted windows.

Many of the drug cartels cars (I dare to say that even all of them) have tinted windows. The Mexican government and military have encouraged their disuse, and some municipalities, like Monterrey, for example, have outlawed tinted windows.

anon161487
Post 32

How I can measure the protection rate of the tinting film?

Are there any measuring tools for that? Thanks.

anon139761
Post 31

I am over here in England and we are only allowed to tint the windows behind the B pillar (e.g. not the windscreen or front side windows). I have just had my BMW 530d M Sport Touring tinted and it will protect my interior and my new baby (when it arrives in summer) safe from the harmful UV rays. Plus it makes my car look much better. --Daniel

anon136139
Post 30

I've never understood this vogue for blacking out car windows; it used to be the preserve of drug dealers and undertakers. what are you trying to hide?

danieltsloh
Post 29

Yup, so it's better if don't tint your car's front- windscreen. just in case anything happened,you still can go out from your front-windscreen.

anon103293
Post 27

You know what all the tinting industry should do? Create a new tint that has one side (outside view has any of the percentage tint), and from the inside (this is the new feature) is super clear (as if the windows was not tinted at all). I'm not saying clear as in you can still see the light dark tint, but clear as if the windows weren't tinted at all.

Lots of advantages: You can still have any dark tint percentages.

Still blocks huge amount of dangerous rays.

Still keeps your car/house cool.

Stops glare and dims out bright lights.

Stops eye strain.

Great for those Limo tints or close to it.

Disadvantages I think people would find: Tints would not darken your car or house but let lights through without all the heat (Like I said before, it's like there's no tints at all). The thing is, you could have the option to add a light shade with your new tint if you don't want the light in.

Anybody can use my idea. I'm not spamming; it just came to me when I was reading through these comments. I would love to see my idea on my cars' windows, dark outside, very clear inside, so I can see perfectly as if I had no tint.

shirley123
Post 26

Energy-saving windows are definitely a clear choice. Aside from the seven reasons to have energy efficient windows, energy-efficient windows are practical and eco-friendly. For example, having your windows tinted could save more on electric bills, at the same time caring for the environment as we lessen the carbon emission in out atmosphere. While most window films are for reducing solar heat gain in the summer, low-e films both block summer heat and improve winter heat retention.

anon81256
Post 25

My windows are limo tinted, and I live in Portland/Gresham Oregon and so far have never had a problem being pulled over, although I hear they're starting to crack down.

Deal is, if you're a good, cautious and aware driver you should have no problems. It is harder to see at night in dark areas but you roll your window down if it's that bad.

But I hate people looking at me. It makes me nervous, which is the main reason I tinted my windows, along with protecting my twenty year old interior, any valuables (like my cd player which was already stolen once, yes I take my faceplate) and keeping the car cooler as my AC isn't tops right now.

Installed myself with tint from Wal-Mart and while it isn't perfect, after ten months anything I did get on well hasn't bubbled at all.

anon68689
Post 24

A note from someone who bikes: Window tinting has negative safety implications for bikers. When I'm at an intersection, even if I have the right of way, I always like to look at the driver and make eye contact to make sure they see me.

With all the careless drivers out there on their cell phones, sending text messages, etc. I find it very disconcerting if I can't see the driver to verify they see me. To a lesser extent, this is true when driving a car also.

anon68419
Post 23

Even a vehicle has a window or a windshield that has a size of w/c an M1A1 Abrams has, just be a disciplined and a good driver and have a very good common sense while driving. Tint is no big deal, the driver is and will be the problem.

Ria017
Post 22

You must consider the type of car tint you need and then the legal window tinting limits for cars in your state.

anon60248
Post 19

All good information but how can I find someone to put tinting on our RV in North Carolina?

anon56494
Post 18

Don't forget about the security benefits from window tinting. My wife and daughter are constantly hassled at stop lights by male gawkers. Even light tinting diffuses the transparency enough to give them more privacy.

anon55435
Post 17

legal tint in NC 35 percent.

anon35775
Post 16

Things your article didn't address or answer:

1. Driving at night is dangerous with dark tint

2. Older eyes have problems seeing through it

3. Polarized sunglasses can cause the wearer to see a pattern on the windows

4. Even professionally installed tint can bubble or peel, and non-professional installation will almost certainly bubble

5. Windows with tint can make injuries in accidents worse since they interfere with cracking and grind the victim's skin into safety glass that's supposed to break away

m100035150
Post 15

consider local police regulations.

woput55
Post 14

I had lived in Florida for 7 years, and my car has 15% tinting. I moved to Minnesota, and now I am breaking the law. From what I can see, my tinting is permanent. I can peel the film off, but there is an opaque layer underneath that does not come off. How is it, literally tens of millions of vehicles in Southern states have tinting, and it is illegal in Northern states? Do the Police really need to see in my vehicle? Maybe they need to see in my house also. Strange thing to get pulled over for.

SunTint
Post 13

You want history? How's this for history: Back in 1994 a congressman's girlfriend was held up at her ATM by two gun toting thugs that drove off in a car with darkly tinted windows. Congress quickly wrote a law making all tinting illegal. After all, if those two gun toting thugs had had clear glass, they probably would have good jobs and wouldn't have to rob rich girls. And they certainly wouldn't have a gun! Those are illegal in DC. The tinting industry got together and with such heavy weights as Ford and GM and some manufacturers (DuPont, 3M) and told congress where to stick it! In fact, window film was proven to benefit everybody involved. For the driver, it was less eye strain, less heat enters, use less a/c, use less fuel, shatter resistant, etc. And lets not forget, your interior won't turn to dust! I sold a 12 year old car and the interior was like new. Never had it in a garage, just tinted the windows. Maybe congress should make it a law that everyone has to tint their windows!

harrisonca
Post 12

Thanks for writing this article. Nobody really talks about the history of tint, and this article gives some insight into it.

anon10508
Post 11

anon6127 is right - you have to roll down your windows when driving through darkly-lit streets.

anon6127
Post 9

I'm from Miami and everyone down here got their windows tinted. I personally have my windows blacked out on my 2006 Tahoe. The number on the window appears as 0 a police tint detector. I was able to get my hands on one and tested it out. As for safety concerns it can be difficult to drive at night especially on south beach where the streets are dimly lit.

anon4032
Post 7

I've wondered about getting tinted windows myself. Apparently they can be VERY dark if they come that way from the factory. (We've all seen limousines with windows that are almost black.)

What I can't help but wonder is this: just how well can a driver SEE through windows with a dark tint?

Would it be a danger to his driving? Or to some pedestrians or other drivers that he "almost" doesn't see? I've even seen some car windshields that were completely dark, some from the factory and some tinted later. At night especially, this could prove hazardous to driving vision.

THESE are the kinds of things I want to consider before getting tinted windows -- or a car that already has tinted glass.

anon3528
Post 5

What are the legal limits to tinting your car windows please?

anon1113
Post 4

The above article is very good and very thorough concerning auto tint window film.

There is one point concerning the letter above that misses a good thing concerning film. It holds glass together in the event of breakage. This can prevent serious injury from broken glass. Even though modern auto glass is tempered to help reduce injury small flying shards are still a problem.

With regard to the latest film technology, one of the premier makers of window film has developed and is currently marketing 2 films specifically designed in mind of electronic signals.

The first is designed to defeat signals or prohibit signals from being intecepted from the outside of buildings. This helps security wise to prevent many forms snooping, spying and other nefarious activities.

The second film is just the opposite. It is designed to foster signal transmission back and forth across it. This is helpful in public spaces where the use of WiFi, cell signals and other communication devices are welcomed or encouraged.

There are many uses for window film that are just being discovered and is a burgeoning market in light of rising energy costs and threat of terroristic criminals.

anon1012
Post 2

I could see that happening with a vehicle that pulled over to the side. But, an accident that causes enough damage to a car to keep someone trapped inside is something that stands out as needing immediate attention - whether or not the windows are tinted. It seems that window tinting was the least of her problems.

anon871
Post 1

Here's a risk of window tinting you might consider: my neighbor was in a single car accident, and although she was only a few feet from the road, no one could see that she was in the car due to the window tinting. She was trapped for over 45 minutes.

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