Tinting Windows Is an Advanced Task for DIYers. Here’s How to Tint Your Car Windows at Home.
- DIY Difficulty Level: Advanced
- Time Required: 3-4 hours
- Tools & Materials:
What Is Window Tint?
Window tinting is applying a film inside your car’s windows to darken the windows. Tinted windows add appeal, reduce sun glare, and prevent the UV rays from bleaching interior upholstery. It also makes your car cool, improves privacy, and increases the value of the car.
You can buy window tint at most auto parts stores, but it is extremely difficult to do a quality job without training and practice. We recommend having a tinting specialist do this job for you to make sure it’s done right.
Is It Safe to Drive with Your Windows Not Tinted?
Driving without tinted windows will not cause any harm. Even clear windows have UV protection that will prevent sunburns and damage to your interior. The tint film does provide additional protection to interior plastics and upholstery, though.
You should know your state’s window tinting regulations. Many states limit just how dark you can tint them. Having tint that’s darker than permitted where you live can cause you to fail inspection, get pulled over, and fined.
When to Replace Tint on Your Car Windows
Nearly all new vehicles come with tinted windows, but the color can be darker or lighter than you would like. Also, when your car windows break, the replacement you get might not have tint. Even if you get nicely tinted windows in your new car or newly replaced windows, most car window tints fade out over time.
What Are Common Symptoms Indicating You Need to Tint Your Car’s Windows?
Here are a few signs that it might be time to tint your windows:
- Fading and purpling old tint
- Replacement windows don’t have tint
- OEM windows have inferior sunlight protection
- Curling and peeling of the old tint
- Presence of air bubbles, air bulges, and gouges on the old tint
How to Tint Windows
While we recommend leaving this job to a trained professional, here are the steps they will take.
Step 1: Choose the right film
Before anything else, choose tint film based on your state laws, your manufacturer’s recommendations (if any), and your needs. You can choose the cheap dye film, which has little UV protection, or the more expensive carbon film with excellent UV protection. For durability, you can go for carbon or ceramic tint films. For better heat reflection, a metallic film could be your ultimate choice.
Step 2: Choose a dry and clean workspace
Dust, debris, and moisture can compromise the tint installation process. Select a place of your choice that’s clean and dry. If contaminants can get under the tint, air bubbles or moisture bulges will form, making the tint peel off. Tint shops are kept meticulously clean
Step 3: Clean the windows
First, remove any adhesives from the glass, then clean inside the windows thoroughly using soapy water or an automotive window cleaner. Spray the cleaning solution on the window and run the scraper blade gently from side to side to remove any grime off the window. Roll the window down so that you can also clean the areas around the edges. To dry the window and remove remaining dirt, work the squeegee from the top all the way down the window. Roll up the windows and make sure you clean all the residual moisture.
Step 4: Size and cut the tint film
Spray the outside of the window with soapy water. This will help it temporarily stick to the window so you can size it properly. Unroll the film and find which area has the adhesive. Roll the film over the outside window, while ensuring the side you’re facing is the side with the adhesive. Cut the film from the roll to size and ensure you keep 2-3 inches of tint hanging over around all the edges. Repeat this for all of the windows you are tinting.
Step 5: Apply the tint film
Spray the inside of the window with soapy water. Peel the backing away from the tint film along the top edge and spray it with soapy water. Line up and adhere the tint to the top edge of the window, with the excess overhanging. The soapy water on both the film and the glass will temporarily let you move the tint around if you need to. When it’s in position, squeegee the water and any air bubbles out of this section of tint. Repeat this process in small sections all the way down the window. When finished, cut the excess tint around the edges of the window. On windows that roll down, wrap the top edge of tint slightly over the top edge.
Still Need Help?
Want an expert mechanic on speed dial who can walk you through DIY repairs and answer any questions? Call the FIXD Mechanic Hotline for access to our Master Mechanics Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
The guidelines in this article are general and not meant to replace instructions for your specific vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual, repair guide, or a professional before attempting repairs.
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