Choosing Car Window Tint — What You Should Know

Getting your car windows tinted is a choice you certainly won’t regret. Tinting makes your car look sleek and stylish, but it also protects it from the damaging UV rays. Moreover, it protects you from these same rays and keeps you cool, so you can drive for long stretches of time without worrying about your skin.

But with so many options on the market, it might be difficult to choose the right window tint. Picking the wrong one can certainly set you back a few hundred dollars in the long run. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, then I have a few tips for you that will help you make the right decision from the start.

Tinted black car windows.

Why You Should Tint Your Car

Before you start choosing the right tint, naturally, you want to know why you need tint in the first place. Here is a list of reasons why tinting is a must in every car:

UV protection

Long exposure to UV rays is damaging both to you and your car. Your car’s upholstery is likely to fade much faster when frequently exposed to UV rays, and you are at risk of getting skin cancer. So if you spend a lot of time in your car — commuting or due to the nature of your work — it might be wise to invest in a good window tint.

Your Car Will Be Cooler

Yes, it will look cooler too, but what I actually mean is that window tint reduces the temperature inside your car. Again, this is because it blocks most of the UV rays, and therefore keeps some of the heat out. So if you live in a warm region, or if you like to go on long road trips in the summer, window tint might make your car rides more enjoyable.

Privacy

People will have a harder time seeing you behind the tinted windows. You might feel more comfortable while driving if you know that your car is your private space.

What You Should Consider Before You Choose

Now you know why window tinting is a good idea, but don’t rush to get your car windows tinted just yet. Before taking that final step, there are a few more things you should consider if you want to make the right decision.

1. Types of Window Tint

Even though they all serve the same purpose, not all tints are equal. They differ in terms of quality, cost, material, and effectiveness. Some are more durable, others more aesthetically pleasing, and still others offer more protection. In order to help you choose, I present to you the four most common types of window tint:

Dyed tint

Dyed tint (example) is the cheapest and the least effective one in terms of protection. The dye is usually put on a layer of adhesive and then applied to the car window. The film does absorb some of the heat and UV rays, but its primary purpose is to make the car look sleek and polished. The downside is that dyed tint eventually fades, so you can expect to replace it every couple of years.

Metalized tint

This type of tint contains tiny metallic particles embedded in the film, which shield the interior from the heat. It’s shiny and resistant to scratches, which counts as an advantage compared to dyed tint. However, because of the metal, this tint can interfere with cell phones, radio, and GPS. That might be a major drawback if you’re taking a long trip across the country and need your navigation.

Carbon tint

As the name implies, it contains carbon, which blocks about 40% of the heat that enters through the windows. It’s effective and has an elegant matte finish, so it offers both the protection and the looks. Since it contains no metal, you can freely use your GPS and cell phone. And unlike dyed tint, it doesn’t fade or scratch over time.

Ceramic tint

Ceramic tint is something of a royalty among car window tints. It’s relatively new on the market but already proven to be the most effective in blocking the heat (up to 50%) and UV rays (up to 99%). It doesn’t fade, it’s shatter-proof, and it lasts long. Of course, high quality means high price, but I can promise you that this tint is worth it.

2. Window Tinting Laws

You might enjoy the privacy and protection your window tints afford you, but the state where you live might not. Therefore, it’s a good idea to look into the tinting laws of your state, or any other state you might be traveling to. You could spare yourself a lot of stress and misunderstandings with the police.

The main reason window tinting laws exist is to ensure public safety. The driver and front passenger have to be visible to street cameras and officers, and this becomes impossible if the car tint is too dark. Furthermore, dark tint reduces visibility in the car, consequently putting you, other drivers, and pedestrians in danger. And don’t forget, road safety must always come first.

During your research on tinting laws, you will encounter a few terms you might not be familiar with. Since they are essential for your understanding of the law, I will explain some of them here:

VLT percentage

Also known as visible light transmission percentage, it measures how much light can pass through the window. If you see that a certain car has 70% VLT film, it means that 70% of sunlight can pass through the window. The lower the VLT% is, the darker the windows are. Laws in most states don’t allow your window tint to have a very low VLT percentage.

Front-side window tint level is the VLT% that is allowed on the driver and passenger seat windows. Usually, this percentage is higher than the one allowed on the backseat windows, because the driver and passenger should be visible from outside.

Read-side window tint level is the VLT% that is allowed on the backseat windows.

Rear window tint level is the VLT% allowed on the rear window, which is often the same as VLT% allowed on backseat windows, though sometimes it has to be higher.

A windshield mustn’t have any tint in any of the states.

Although states tend to be strict about their tinting laws, there are exceptions for people who have health conditions that make them sensitive to light. These people can use darker tints than the ones determined by the law, but they must bring along a doctor’s note in case a police officer pulls them over.

If you want to know more about tinting laws and which ones are applicable in your state, I have just the article for you.

Final Steps

You’ve chosen your tint and researched the applicable laws, and now it’s finally time to apply it to your windows. You know that tinting professionals exist, but why pay for something you can do on your own, right?

To put it bluntly, because you can’t do it on your own. Well, you can still try and it might even turn out well for a while, but it’s much safer and easier to let a professional do it. Tinting isn’t as easy as it looks, and a bad tinting job leaves your windows full of bubbles and creases. Redoing the tinting will cost you more than just leaving it to a professional from the start. Check this article to find out how much it costs a DIY or professional solution.

Once the tint is in place, you’ll want it to stay there as long as possible. To ensure this, you must inform yourself on how to properly clean and maintain tinted windows. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t clean and roll down the windows a few days after tinting. Tint needs time to fully dry and settle.
  • Don’t use ammonia and harsh chemicals. It’s best to use warm water and a drop of soap, or a cleaning product recommended by the professional who installed your tint.
  • Use a soft paper towel or a cloth.
  • Don’t use anything sharp or scratchy on your tinted windows.
  • Don’t hesitate to use alcohol — it’s perfectly safe for your windows, whether tinted or not.

Conclusion

Tinting your car windows has enormous benefits for your health and for the longevity of your car. Tint protects you from harmful UV light and keeps your car cool and pleasant. On top of it, tinted windows add to the smooth and polished look of your car and give you some additional privacy.

Still, before you get your windows tinted, you must do thorough research on the existing types of tint and state laws that deal with the usage of it. Most states allow a certain percentage of tint on your windows, but there are those that don’t. Make sure that you are informed on the law so as to avoid tickets and fines.

Finally, be aware of the ways to clean and maintain your tinted windows, as this will help them last longer. Get help from a professional in applying your window tint, and don’t forget to ask them in case you need help with anything else. And most importantly, enjoy your new window tint!

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