What you should know about car window tinting before you shop
Why add car window tinting film?
Most new cars and trucks come from the factory with tinted glass, but many owners like to add car window tinting film to get even more heat reduction and privacy. Car window tinting blocks up to 99% of UV rays and that slows down the degradation of the plastics and fabrics used in your vehicle. Depending on the degree of tinting you choose, window tinting film can also reduce the interior temperature of your vehicle by up to 70%. That’s a big advantage, especially in warm sunny climates.
Car window tinting film also reduces the effects of glass shatter if the window is ever broken. The windshield glass is laminated so it doesn’t shatter. Door glass isn’t laminated but it is tempered. If the door window glass is struck it will break into small pieces instead of shards, but because it’s not laminated, the small pieces can still shatter into the vehicle and injury occupants. Window film reduces the likelihood of injury.
Finally, car window tinting offers more privacy.
How car window tinting is installed
Window tinting film is supplied with a light-tack pressure sensitive adhesive. Before applying the film, the installers thoroughly clean the inside of your car windows. Then they remove the tint film backing to expose the adhesive. Next, the spray an alcohol detergent mix to the adhesive to temporarily “kill” the tackiness and provide some slip. Then they apply the adhesive side to the interior side of your door glass.
At this point the tinting film is slippery and the installer can position it however they want. Once it’s in place, they use a squeegee to push the water detergent mixture out from under the film which allows the adhesive to work. They start from the center of the glass and push the water detergent mixture and air bubbles toward the edges of the glass. Once the film is in place, they trim off the excess film with a sharp razor blade.
The installers can lift the film and re wet it with water detergent to remove air bubbles or wrinkles, or they can apply a spray of water and alcohol to increase adhesion to the glass.
When they’re finished, some small air bubbles will remain. Those bubbles disappear over time. You’ll be instructed to leave the windows fully closed for two days to allow the adhesive to fully set. If you roll down your windows during the two day period, the film can peel off.
How to shop for car window tinting
Some car window tinting films are graded based on its visible light transfer (VLT). The rating can refer to the percentage of light that passes through the film. So a 20% film lets in 20% of the light. The lower the percentage, the darker the tint. However, some companies grade their car window tinting film based on how much light the film blocks, so their 20% film would block 20% of the light but allow 80% of the light through. Always check with the manufacturer or installer to see which definition of VLT they use to come up with their percentage.
Every state has different regulations regarding the degree of window tinting allowed on the front and back side windows and the rear window. Plus, the specifications vary between cars, SUVs and vans. In addition, some states restrict the tint film colors allowed and well as the reflectance characteristics. Most don’t allow mirrored or metallic films. If you are allowed to tint the rear window, many states required the dual side mirror. Refer to this chart from the International Window Film association for the laws in your state.
States also have varying laws requiring that the window film be certified for use in their state and also require a window sticker on each window stating the certification and the film grade. Still other states require the sticker to list the installer’s name and the name and address of the window film manufacturer.
Make sure the film tint you choose meets your state’s window tinting laws. Keep in mind that a darker film makes it harder for the driver to see at night. If you’re in an accident and claim that you could see the other car, pedestrian or motorcycle, the injured party will certainly bring up the fact that your windows were tinted and that your decision to tint was negligent.
How much does window tinting cost
Only a handful of companies manufacture window tinting film. 3M is one of the largest and they’re also the most expensive. So the price you pay is directly related to the window film brand you choose. Price is also affected by the film’s warranty coverage. Window film and its adhesive are degraded by sunlight, eventually causing bubbles and wrinkles to appear. Window films with longer a longer warranty generally command a higher price.
Installation prices also vary by location. However, window film installers aren’t highly skilled laborers. According to salaryexpert.com, the average wage for window film installers is just $26,140.yr. That comes out to a retail labor rate of around $35 to $40/hr. Window film application for a typical sedan takes under two hours.
Average pricing is around $55 per window or $100 for front windows, about $220 for a 4-door sedan and $275 for a full sized SUV.
Avoid window tinting scams
If the price seems too low, it’s a scam. You’ll be upsold the minute you walk in the door. Or, you’ll be sold an inferior film or a film that’s not certified in your state. Inexpensive window film degrade rapidly and exhibit bubbles and wrinkles.
Some firms advertise a low price but inform you later that the price doesn’t include window preparation (cleaning and sticker removal). Make sure you ask about preparation charges before agreeing to the price.
Can you install window film yourself?
Yes, but it takes practice. There’s no way you’ll get good results on your first attempt. You’ll need two clean spray bottles, detergent, alcohol, glass cleaner, the proper squeegee, a supply of single edge razor blades, Exacto knife and blades and microfiber towels.
Plan on destroying enough film to do two full windows. Start by applying just a 8”x 8”section of window film and using the squeegee to remove the liquid and force out air bubbles. Next, apply a small patch at the edge of the window to get the hang of trimming the window film with a razor.
When you feel you’re ready, do one window at a time. Do NOT apply window film to all your windows, thinking that you’ll go back and remove the bubbles and wrinkles later.
The downsides of car window tinting
As unfair as it may seem, you’ll probably be stopped by police more often.
You’ll be asked to show proof of the VLT of your particular window film and the officer may question your proof. Get over it. It happens.
It’s harder to see.
It’ll wrinkle and bubble
©. 2017 Rick MuscoplatPosted on by Rick Muscoplat