What is window tint?

Quick notes

– Window tint transparency requirement varies by window and state.

– Enforcement of tint percentages is a method law enforcement uses to pull people over and engage them in unwarranted questioning unnecessarily.

– Be sure your tint passes the rules where you’re traveling through unknown areas to avoid problems.

To darken, or tint, the windows, a thin film of laminate is applied to a vehicle’s window, completely covering the surface area of the visible window.

There are different kinds of films that can be applied to windows. There are dark films in a few color variations and 3M’s Crystalline Series, which offers clear and transparent versions aimed at UVA/UVB blockage.

Tint percentages are essential to be aware of, as they relate directly to the tint percentage that you’re allowed to have on your windows in a particular state. Failure to keep your car window tinting percentage within the law can lead to fines and other problems.

“Enforcement of tint percentages is a method law enforcement uses to unnecessarily pull people over and engage them in unwarranted questioning.”

The law differs, so use a state-by-state breakdown of the tint percentages allowed by window type and state to know how dark your tint can be.

Why tint your car windows?

There are different motivations for tinting windows. A lot of people tint their windows for privacy purposes. Some don’t like the sun glare you may otherwise get on a bright sunny day or when there’s snow.

For those who spend a lot of time on the road, they tend to tint their windows to avoid UV rays. Minimizing exposure to UVA and UVB rays helps prevent skin cancer.

The number one reason for tinting the windows is usually to cut down on the interior heat in the car. Not only does this save driver and passenger comfort, but it also cuts down on engine stress and increases fuel economy.

Not only will tinting the windows cut down on the heat inside the car, but it will also serve to protect the interior of your vehicle from heat and sun-related degradation and damage.

“Window tint transparency requirement varies by window and state.”

How much does it cost?

The price of tint differs depending on the material used, where the application is done, and the expertise of the person doing it. It’s worth it to invest the money in a decent job. One bubble between the film and the window can drive you mad! It also will not age very well.

The price can start anywhere from $100 to $800 for an average-sized car. Dealer-applied tint does tend to be slightly on the expensive side but usually comes with a limited warranty and guarantee of application.

Can I get a ticket for having a dark tint?

Allowable tint varies by state. Generally, an entire windshield cannot be tinted. Allowance is made for a tint bar across the top of the windshield. The legal size for this tint bar will vary by state.

Steevven1 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.5

Some rules apply to whether you’re allowed to tint the side and rear windows. California appears to be the most restrictive that doesn’t outright ban tints. California window tinting law requires that the tint allow  70 percent of the light through the tint on the front driver and passenger side windows.

“Be sure your tint passes the rules where you’re traveling through unknown areas to avoid problems.” 

Most states that limit tint do so for safety and security reasons. Tinting limits what the police can see from outside, but also can limit the driver’s ability to see what is outside. Before you have any window tinting applied to your car, be sure you are clear on what the tint percentages are for your state.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

Should you call the police after you get into an accident? | Autos101

Do you have to call the police after you get into an accident? Should you call the police?

Car wreck? Here’s how much your insurance will increase? | Finance101

Trying to figure out how much your insurance will cost if you make a claim? Take a look here.