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Complete Guide To Car Window Tinting

tinted windows auto

Car window tinting is an excellent way to add value to your car and provides many benefits. UV Ray protection is a big positive for tinted car windows as it blocks harmful sunshine from the passengers as well as the car’s interior, which helps to keep them looking new.

Along with blocking UV Rays, the temperature may also decrease by up to 65% depending on the tint film applied to your car.

However, privacy is the main reason car owners decide to tint their windows. If you must store valuables in your car, then tinted windows block the view from car criminals.

From my experience, to get your car windows tinted by a professional may cost around 60 dollars per window but some people may even charge more than that.

There are two methods to tint your car windows yourself, which include a pre cut car window tint film and a large roll. You can find pre-cut car window tint for thousands of cars, however if you want to tint your windows yourself, you’ll need the following:

  • Car glass cleaner
  • Tint film
  • Window tinting tool kit
  • And of course, patience!

Table of Contents

What Window Tint Film For Your Car

There are several shades of tint to choose from as well as different colors. However the law around tinted windows may vary depending where you live. Therefore, you will want to check what tint shade is legal or take the risks associated with being caught. The percentages shown below are the amount of light allowed through the tint film.

tinted car windows

Unless you are aiming for a complete blacked out limo look and feel, 5% won’t look good on the majority of cars. The tint shade of 20% is the perfect amount of darkness for most cars. The 20% shade is dark enough that you cannot see inside the car but you can see outlines that are bulky objects such as seats and the driver.

How to Apply Window Tint Film?

1. Clean the Window Thoroughly

An important part of the process is to clean the glass thoroughly to avoid bubbling. We recommend using a car glass cleaner and spray plenty to ensure good coverage. Use a clean microfiber cloth to dry the window and then use a blade to remove any dirt on the window. You will then want to ensure that the window gasket rubber is clean, including inside the gap.

2. Measurement and Tint Film Cutting

If you are using pre-cut window tint film, you can skip this step. A quick and easy way to cut the tint film is by rolling out the tint film against the outside of the window and unrolling the film side to side. Once the whole window is covered by the tint film, you can cut the film. However, you will want to ensure you leave a at least an inch of leeway.

3. Apply Wet Solution to Window

Apply a soapy solution to the car window as this will be used as lubricant for the tint film. Do not let the window to dry before moving to the next step.

4. Remove Film Backing

Place the tint film on the outside of the car window front facing. Next, remove the film backing and apply the soapy solution generously as you are peeling off the backing film.

5. Apply Tint Film to Car Window

Ensure the window is wet and apply the adhesive side of the tint film to the wet window. A top tip is to apply the tint film from the top first and work your way down. However, you want to be sure not to crease the film as this will leave a permanent mark. Use a squeegee to press any wet residue and air bubbles from under the tint film (ensure the film is wet before doing this).

6. Trim Surplus Tint Film

Using a razor blade, remove the extra inch leeway. Start from the top and pull down the window slightly to get a better trim at the top. Once complete, roll the window back up and trim the bottom and side. Now finish off by pushing any water and air bubbles to the edge of the window.

NOTE: Once complete, it’s important not to use the windows for around three days and to not use any chemical solutions on the windows for over a week.

Are Car Window Tints Illegal?

Almost every country worldwide allow the rear windows to have any shade of tint (i.e. limo 5% shade) but the front of the car differs.

In the US, the law varies from state to state regarding the front window tint, which makes the law difficult to understand. You can find the full details on regulations for car window tinting per state via Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

If you are worried and don’t want any fines or trouble, simply don’t tint the front windows at all. From just tinting the rear of the car, you will still achieve the benefits and the cars looks will look far better than no tint at all.

How to Remove Car Window Tint Film?

If the current window tints are scratched, bubbly or you simply don’t want to have them anymore, they can be removed easily. To remove window tint film, you have the choice of two methods.

The hard way is to use an automotive heat gun, razor blade and your finger nails. The process of heating up the glass to the point the glue between the window and the tint film is warm enough to pick at. Then using your blade and finger nails, keep picking at it until it’s all gone.

The easy way with the help of a dedicated window tint removal spray. As used by professionals, the special formula breaks down the tint film glue that makes removal a lot easier. Simply spray, wait and then remove using the blade that comes with the spray.

Headlight and Rear Light Tint Film

For those that want to complete the stealth look, headlight and rear light tinting is a simple solution. Whilst going for a stealth look on my MK5 Golf, I had the choice to either spray the headlight or apply tint film.

Considering that I had paid a large amount for GTi headlights, I didn’t want to spray the headlights, therefore I used tint film. The headlight tint film follows a similar application to tint film but there is no need to worry about air bubbles with this product. It has tiny holes that allow light through and of course make it road legal.

best tint film for headlights and rear lights

To apply, simply place the film over the top of the headlights and cut the necessary amount leaving an inch leeway. Using a hairdryer, simply heat up the film and push the inch leeway into the outside of the headlight.

I have removed the tint film after a year and it’s very simple to remove. Simply reheat the tint film and it can be pulled from the headlight. There may be some glue residue left over, however this can be washed off with soap and the use of a rubbing compound to polish away the glue.

Alternative to Car Window Tint

There are many reasons to why you can’t tint your windows such as not owning the car or insurance reasons. The alternative to window tinting that we would recommend is to use a sun shade that wraps around your car window.

The sun shade is very easy to install as its very flexible and provides excellent UV Ray blocking to back seat passengers. Another benefit is that you can still roll down the window whilst having the shade on the window.

procarreviews author

Written By Dan

About the Author

Dan is an automotive journalist and owner of over 10 cars ranging from supercars, tuned cars, classics and your good old beater cars. He always likes to get his hands dirty with nut and bolt restorations or detailing sessions using the best products on the market.

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