How much does it cost to tint car windows and is it worthwhile or a complete waste of money? Also, is there a way to do it at home and skip going to a professional detailing shop altogether?
If you want to learn more about what it takes to tint your windows and get the job done right — keep on reading.
Benefits of Tinting Your Car Windows
In addition to making your car look cool, window tints are extremely useful.
For starters, they’ll give you a ton of privacy, and people (for the most part) won’t be able to see into your car. Also, there’s a theory that tinted windows can ward off potential thieves. Since they can’t see what you have in your car, they might not even bother trying to break into it.
Another benefit of tinting car windows is that it can reduce the heat in your car and make it cooler inside. In fact, low-transparency window tints can decrease the heat by up to 70%.
To that same extent, they’ll block 99% of harmful UV rays and protect you from the sun. Window tints will also save you from getting sunburnt during long drives in the summer.
The final benefit, and one that most people don’t even consider, is that window tints can keep your car windows from shattering. If and when the glass breaks, a window tint will keep all those tiny glass slivers in place and away from you.
Things to Consider Before Tinting
Before you commit to tinting your windows, you have to consider what level and percentage of it your state permits. While I know that these restrictions might seem like a drag, the state just wants to ensure that you and others in traffic are safe.
That’s why they’ll tell you what your tint percentage can be. Also, your state might forbid you from tinting your driver and front passenger windows so that officers and traffic cams can always see you.
Know the Terminology
Once you’ve made sure that you can legally tint the car windows in your state, you should learn more about tinting technology.
For example, one of the most common terms you’ll see is VLT%, which stands for Visible Light Transmission Percentage.It’s essentially the general measuring unit of window tints and shows, in percentages, how much light penetrates your windows with the tint. The lower your VLT is, the less light will go through your tint.
You’ll also have specific VLT percentages for the following:
- Front-side window
- Rear-side window
- Rear window
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, every state will have different laws regarding VLT percentages and tint levels. What’s more, for safety reasons, most states don’t allow you to tint your windshields.
Another thing you’ll have to consider when it comes to the window tints is their color or finish, as they’ll vary from one state to the next. But most often, you can put almost any color, as long as you’re following the VLT guidelines.
Most states are willing to make exceptions on the VLT levels if and when the car owners have certain medical conditions. These include:
- Bloom syndrome
- Solar urticaria
If you’re suffering from any of these conditions, you can go to a DMV to ask for a permit and get a tint with a low VLT percentage. If you get approved, you’ll have to carry your permit with you at all times when you’re in the car.
The permit should include your name and a certified diagnosis of your condition. Also, it should state how much sun exposure you can endure, as well as your vehicle’s basic specs.
If you want to learn more about the window tint laws for each state, you can check out my article. There, you’ll see more in-depth information about VLT levels, restrictions, and medical exemptions.
Car Window Tinting Shops
When you’re looking to get your windows tinted, you can choose to either go to a professional or do it at home. Let’s see what the pros and cons of going to a shop are first, and how much the entire process will set you back, before moving on to DIY.
Usually, when you pay for professional window tinting service, it’ll look much better than what you could’ve done at home.
The work is carried out by industry professionals who know what they’re doing and how low your VLT can be. If you’re unsure about your local laws, a body detailing shop will help you figure it out and recommend the best percentage.
Also, most legitimate shops will offer guarantees for both their work and the tint. So if you ever get a chip on the tint while it’s in warranty, you can usually replace it for free or at least a discounted price.
Since you’re paying for someone’s skill and knowledge, it’ll cost you more than if you did it yourself.
Before committing to one tint shop, make sure to check their reviews online and see how happy the other customers were.
Another potential drawback of going to a store instead of doing it yourself is the smaller selection of tints. Most shops order from a few select distributors, and they might not have what you’re looking for.
For example, if you want to put a specific ceramic, metallic, or carbon tint, you might be better off ordering online.
Cost of Getting Car Window Tints Professionally Done
With that said, the most common quotes for tints range between $25 to $80 per window, depending on what type you want to get. Also, plenty of tint shops often offer discounts if you’re tinting all your windows at the same time.
But be wary of those detailing shops that offer $99 deals, as the tints they’re using usually aren’t high-quality. Most often, they’ll just put one-ply tints that’ll begin to chip only after a year.
As I mentioned before, the type of tint you want to get will have the biggest impact on the price. The cheapest tint on the market is a window dye, and the price usually starts at around $25 per window, while the most expensive one is around $40.
Then, you have the carbon-based tints, which can cost between $35 to $45 per window. They also provide much better UV protection than the window dyes.
One step up from those are multi-layered tints, which start at around $50.
Lastly, we have ceramic window tints which are more superior and expensive compared to any of these. With them, you’ll get heat reduction that you can’t get anywhere else. But they do come with a hefty price tag, and you can expect to pay around $70 to $80 per window for them.
If going to a shop is too expensive for you and you don’t want to go through the hassle, you could always go for the DIY solution. All you need is a good, high-quality window tinting kit from Amazon.
One of the biggest pros of installing your window tints is that you can choose exactly which ones you want. Also, it’s a much cheaper option than going to a professional tint shop and there’s something for every budget. You can also get pre-cut kits to make the installation process even easier.
The biggest downside to installing DIY tints is that you need a lot of time, patience, and equipment. Even though the pros make it look easy, it’s an extremely tricky process. Making one small mistake will leave you with air bubbles in your tint.
But if your heart is set on it, I recommend checking out the YouTube tutorial below to see how it’s done. The guy giving the instructions owns a tint shop and will walk you through the entire process.
Cost of Diy Car Window Tint
Depending on what kind of tint you want to buy, the prices will vary from one company to the next. But my two favorites are the Lexen Two-Ply Carbon Tint and the True Line Custom Tint. Both of these are pretty durable and easy to apply.
I also recommend getting a window tint application kit that’ll make your job go much smoother.
As you can see, there’s no one answer to the question of how much does it cost to tint car windows. It’ll depend on what type you want to get, who’s doing them, and how many windows they’re going to be on. Whatever you end up going with, make sure you’re complying with your state’s laws to avoid getting in trouble.
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