Getting tinted windows on your car is a great move that brings numerous benefits. It’s not just a great aesthetic choice, but also provides privacy for the inside of your car, as well as some added protection from the glare of the sun. The trouble is, in the US especially, that there are many different rules varying from state to state regarding window tint.
It’s for this reason that we decided to prepare today’s blog topic. Today we’re talking window tint percentages, tint levels, how much does it cost to tint windows and more.
What Exactly is Window Tint?
Window tinting may look like the glass itself has been treated, dyed or otherwise stained in some way, but in fact it’s a special kind of automotive film that is applied to the surface. The window tinting industry is already a huge market, and experts predict that by the year 2025, it could be worth as much as $4.5 billion.
Window tinting film is applied to provide privacy, create heat reduction in the cabin, and also to create a stylish aesthetic effect. Tint is sold in varying “percentage” options, which we will describe in more detail below. Once you have chosen your tint and film type, it is then carefully and professionally applied by auto technicians.
The process can take anywhere from 30-40 minutes for a couple of windows, to three or four hours if all the glass in the car is being tinted. Below we will discuss the various tint levels (percentages) and how they are usually used.
What are the Different Window Tint Percentages?
Window tint is usually measured from 5% to 90%. What does this percentage refer to? It’s telling us the amount of visible light transmission (aka VRT) that is able to pass through the windows after the film is applied. Therefore, contrary to your initial intuition, it’s the lower the percentage, the darker the windows will appear. For example, a 10% tint means that only 10 percent of the usual light transmission will penetrate the window. If it’s 90%, then it’s a very slight tint through which most of the light passes as it does in a non-tinted window.
Can I Choose Any Tint Levels I Want?
Unfortunately, in the US, different states have different laws regarding window tinting. We’ll highlight some examples below. Let’s start with the country’s most populous states:
- California: Allows up to 70% tint on the front side windows, and any level of tint on the back-side and rear windows. On the windshield, only 4 inches of the glass can be tinted.
- New York: Allows up to 70% tint on the front-side and back-side windows, and any level of tint on the rear window. The windshield can have up to 6 inches of the glass tinted.
- Texas: Here you can have as strong a tint as 25% on the front-side and back-side windows, and any level of tint on the rear window. Up to 5 inches of glass on the windshield can be tinted.
- Virginia: Allows up to 50% on the front-side windows, and 35% on the back-side and rear windows. Windshield tinting is only allowed as 1 single line.
These states and others have some additional restrictions that apply regarding reflectivity and different color shades that are not allowed. The front-side windows are invariably the most strictly regulated. States that allow no tinting on the front-side windows include: New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont. The most “liberal” states when it comes to tinting are Washington (Up to 24% on all windows), Texas (as above), South Carolina (up to 27% on all windows), Oklahoma (up to 25% on all windows), and New Mexico (up to 20% on all windows). Michigan allows any level of tint on all windows, but the front-side windows can only include 4 inches from the top of the window (the windshield too).
What we see is that states vary wildly in their allowances, and so anyone planning to get their car windows treated with window film should first check out their state’s laws. Reputable suppliers of window tinting services should also be very aware of permissible levels in your home state. If, however, you plan to apply the tint yourself, then get acquainted with the rules unless you want a citation from a state trooper.
How Much Does it Cost to Tint Windows?
While it might feel like an extravagant step, window tinting when done professionally is not prohibitively expensive. The typical price range to tint all the windows (that are legally allowed) on a vehicle is from $100 to $400. That cost is well worth it when you consider the benefits of window tinting that I mentioned above. It has a lot of appeal to prospective buyers in the future, be it aesthetic or practical appeal. That means it can add resale value to your vehicle, especially when it’s carried out to a high standard.
Additional Tips for After Auto Window Tinting is Done
To round off today’s blog, we’re providing you with some useful tips to help you ensure that your window tinting job stays intact. Some of this advice will doubtless be shared by your service provider, but just in case, here are some must-know tips for those who are either about to get window tinting or who have just gotten it.
1. Study Providers Before You Agree to the Work
Before you settle on a provider to do your window tinting work, take time to research their work and their experience. Besides getting an impression of their facility and professionalism, read customer reviews and ask around in your friend and family circle to see if anyone else has made use of the service before. Their recommendations will mean a lot, and you can even take a look at their vehicles to see what the finished product looks like.
2. Don’t Wash Your Car Right After Installation
Wash your car before the tint is applied if you want, but don’t take it to the car wash right after the tinting is done. It will need time to dry and running the car through a car wash will only hinder that process. What’s more, the moisture from the car wash can cause bubbling in the film. Humid and wet weather can cause the same problems, so keep the car out of the way for at least a day or two after tinting to allow the film to dry and set properly.
3. Don’t Open the Windows for 2-3 Days
Another thing to avoid is opening the windows after getting the work done. The action of rolling the windows up and down can damage the freshly applied tint, so it’s best to wait at least a couple of days before opening the windows.
4. Tinting Doesn’t Strengthen Your Windows
Remember that window tint is a film coating designed to limit the amount of light getting into your passenger cabin. It’s not a force shield or even a coating like paint protection film or ceramic coating. It doesn’t make your windows less susceptible to any kind of damage, so don’t take getting window tints as a cue to drive less responsibly or take less care of the glass.
Conclusion: Know the Rules, Enjoy the Benefits
Window tinting brings many benefits to you, your passengers and your car. From limiting the UV damage done to upholstery, to cooling the cabin and providing greater privacy, especially for rear passengers, a well-applied layer of tinting film can add a great deal of value to your car. Use reputable professionals for the best results, and ensure you both know and stay within the legal tint percentage limit as set by your state.