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Vehicle Window Tinting

Find more information on vehicle window tinting.

Each state maintains its own laws about what type, color and darkness of tint it will allow. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Each state maintains its own laws about what type, color and darkness of tint it will allow.

Vehicle window tinting is a popular automobile upgrade made by applying a thin film to the inner surface of windows. Vehicle window tinting offers privacy while protecting the car and passengers from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Vehicle window tinting is done at auto body shops and at homes. A number of unique types of window tints are available, so individuals can choose a tint that suits their needs and tastes. Although vehicle window tinting is legal, each state maintains its own laws about what type, color and darkness of tint it will allow.

Most window tints begin as thin layers of film, which are bonded together. One side of the film is coated with adhesive and the other with a scratch-resistant coating.

Types of Window Tints

Individuals can choose from three types of window tints or films, all of which are made from polyester and are two to seven millimeters thick:

  • Dyed films are window tints that have been treated with a dye to absorb heat. The window films reject the heat and store it mainly in the glass, which keeps the interior of the car cooler. Dyed films should not be used on thermal glass because this type of glass doesn't allow air movement between panes.
  • Deposited films are drawn through a tank containing metal (aluminum, nickel-chrome or copper) ingots and argon gas, which heats the ingots. The metal then releases particles, which move to the film's surface. This process produces a very dark surface that is highly mirrored.
  • Sputtered film is created in a vacuum chamber with electromagnets. It is a much more complex process than the deposition process. Sputtered film results in a highly reflective layer with very little mirror effect, heat absorption or color change. This process produces many more options for consumers to choose from, but it costs much more.

Individuals can also purchase hybrid films, which are window tints that combine both dyes and reflective materials, according to TintCenter.com. The theory behind hybrid film is to reduce the negative effects of films created with dyes and films created with metal without sacrificing quality. A hybrid film is bright but not reflective.

Application of Window Tints

Vehicle window tinting is applied to the inner surface of the interior glass to protect it from flying debris outside the car. The window tint is applied to the full surface of the glass using either a pressure-sensitive or water-activated adhesive. Car owners who are looking to save money can apply their own window tints by following these steps:

  • Begin by tracing and cutting out a template of the window. Use the template and a utility knife to cut the vehicle window tinting to the right size.
  • Carefully wash and dry the interior windows. Use a razor blade to remove any excess debris.
  • Using a water bottle, spray down the inner surface of the window as well as the adhesive side of the window film.
  • Position the film over the glass, being careful to avoid any creasing, and smooth it out with a squeegee, forcing any bubbles to the edges.
  • Lastly, use the utility knife to trim any overhang.

Once the window tint has been applied, it shouldn't be peeled off the window unless it is being permanently removed. Applying too much pressure to the window tint can tear or damage it.

Laws Regarding Vehicle Window Tinting

Vehicle window tinting laws vary by state and may even be interpreted differently by local authorities in each district. Every state has certain specifications about which window tints are appropriate on which windows. State laws dictate how dark window tints can be, how reflective window tints can be and what colors are permitted and restricted. Some states also have special laws about side mirrors, certification requirements, sticker requirements and medical exemptions.

Since each state has a unique set of laws regarding vehicle window tinting, car owners should carefully research the criteria for their particular state before applying a tint to their windows. After they do this, they should check with their local police department to make sure all parties involved are interpreting the laws in the same way. TintLaws.com provides detailed, up-to-date information about laws in each state in the country. TintCenter.com Inc. also maintains a complete database of tint laws broken down by state.

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