The best window tint of your choice will make your vehicle look cooler and prevent the sun from toasting your interior on those hot sunny days.
Indeed, tinting your car windows can upgrade your vehicle in more ways than one, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to do it. Not only is DIY window tinting very affordable, but it’s something you can do by yourself on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Our review catalog and comprehensive buying guide will help you find the best auto window tint film for your ride. Here’s a quick rundown of our top picks:
|Top Top Top Top||LEXEN 2Ply Premium Carbon 20" X 100FT Roll Window Tint Film Auto Car (50% Light Shade)||Prime||Buy Now|
|PROTINT WINDOWS 5% shade color 12 Inches by 100 Feet Window Tint Film Roll, for privacy and heat reduction||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top Top||Gila XLB242 Xtreme Limo Black 2.5% VLT Automotive Window Tint DIY Glare Control UV Blocking 24in x 78in (2ft x 6.5ft)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||MotoShield Pro - Premium Precut Ceramic Window Tint for Cars,Coupes (Superior Heat Control/Blocks 99% UV) 2mil - All Sides + Rear Window||Prime||Buy Now|
IN THIS GUIDE
Best Window Tint Reviews
Here is a detailed look at our top picks. For other great car accessories, see AutoTribute’s car products page.
1. LEXEN 2 Ply Premium Carbon Window Tint Film
This two-ply automotive window tint film from LEXEN uses carbon pigment to block out 99 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays, keeping your skin and eyes, as well as your car’s upholstery, safer.
You get a 20-inch by 100-foot roll that’s scratch-resistant, fade-resistant, and doesn’t interfere with electronic signals. It also provides better heat rejection than many rival window tint films.
The roll of film is available in four shades, ranging from a very light tint of 50% to a 5%, super-dark “limo” tint, all of which provide a super clean, high-quality look with no hazing whatsoever. It’s easy to cut and manipulate, so getting a precision fit for every section of your auto glass won’t be an issue.
LEXEN’s auto tint film is a great product, but it may not be the best option for those who are new to the window tinting process, which requires time, patience, and some skill. You may need the help of a professional to apply the film correctly.
Also, the film itself creases easily and will peel and bubble if not applied to a thoroughly-cleaned glass.
Things We Like
- High-quality film with solid UV and heat protection
- Scratch- and fade-resistant
- Easy to cut, heat shrink, and manipulate
- Delivers a clean look with zero hazing
What We Don’t Like
- Creases easily
- Peels and bubbles if applied to poorly cleaned glass
LEXEN’s Premium Carbon Window Tint Film is scratch- and fade-resistant, blocks up to 99 percent of UV rays, and rejects heat to keep your interior cooler. More than that, it can produce a super clean look that will surely enhance the appearance of your ride. CHECK LATEST PRICE
2. ProTint Windows 5% Shade Window Tint Film Roll
Here is a budget-friendly window tint film that can resist 99% of the sun’s cancer-causing, upholstery-destroying UV rays, reduces the amount of heat that enters your car, and keeps sunlight out of your eyes. You even get a free squeegee.
It is packaged as a 4 by 120-inch (10 feet) roll that’s big enough to cover two or three side windows on an average-sized car, and there is a wide selection of shades to choose from, ranging from as dark as 5% to a light 50%.
The film adheres easily and strongly to most glass surfaces and is fade-resistant, maintaining its dark color after years of intensive use.
For people that have window tinting experience, installation will be fairly straightforward. Beginners might have a more difficult time, as it can be particularly challenging to shrink it to precisely fit curved glass surfaces.
Be aware that ProTint Windows’ roll of film may wrinkle or crease during shipment, which can make applying it smoothly to your glass more challenging than it should be.
Things We Like
- Good UV and heat protection
- Fade-resistant, maintains dark color
- Adheres strongly to glass surfaces
- Free squeegee
- Very affordable
What We Don’t Like
- May wrinkle or crease during shipping
- Can be difficult to heat shrink to fit curved surfaces
If you’re on a tight budget and need a quality window tint, this ProTint Windows Window Tint Film Roll is hard to beat. It’s very affordable and does a good job blocking the sun’s harmful effects. CHECK LATEST PRICE
3. LEXEN 2Ply Ceramic All Windows Precut Tint Kit
LEXEN is also the manufacturer of our number three pick. As a more premium product than our top pick, it features a high-quality ceramic pigment and comes pre-cut instead of as a roll.
Ceramic is a far superior pigment than carbon, so the fact that this film is highly durable, shields against 99% of UV rays, and provides superior heat rejection and color stability is par the course. It’s also scratch- and fade-resistant and non-reflective, providing excellent protection against sun glare.
Pre-cut film is easier to work with than rolled film, as it’s already cut to fit the windows of your particular vehicle model for easier application. You also get a squeegee, a very valuable tool to have during the installation process.
You have the choice of an impressive eight tint percentages: 5%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30%, 35%, 40%, or 45%. The tint produces a very appealing color once applied and provides crystal clear, blur-free visibility from inside the car.
You can make an argument that this, not our number one pick, is LEXEN’s best window tint; however, it’s not without faults.
For one thing, it might not provide an exact fit for your windows, requiring the pre-cut pieces to be trimmed to achieve a more precise fit. It’s also very thin and creases easily. And as a premium product, it’s a bit pricey.
Things We Like
- Excellent protection from UV rays, heat, and sun glare
- Scratch-resistant, fade-resistant
- Highly durable
- Pre-cut for easier installation
- Free squeegee
What We Don’t Like
- Very thin, creases easily
- Pre-cut pieces may require trimming to achieve a precise fit
- A little pricey
LEXEN’s Ceramic All Windows Precut Tint Kit is a premium product that produces premium results. We think it’s worth its premium price. CHECK LATEST PRICE
4. Gila Xtreme Limo Black 2.5% VLT Automotive Window Tint
The Gila Xtreme Limo Black Auto Window tint does exactly what its name suggests — it produces the extremely dark tint you typically find on limousines, keeping 97.5 percent of light out of the interior for maximum privacy.
Possibly Gila’s best auto window tint, the film is made of a durable material and is deep-dyed to last a long time. In addition to effectively blocking light, it shields against the sun’s UV rays and heat to make your air conditioner work less and protect your skin and interior surfaces from damage.
Application will be fairly easy for those with window tinting experience, especially when the Gila Complete Installation Kit is used. However, bubbles may form if the instructions are not followed properly.
The film is extremely dark. Although it’s possible to see from inside the car, there is a slight blue hue that you may find off-putting.
It’s also a little flimsy and very sticky, which can impede installation.
Things We Like
- Quality dark tint
- Effectively keeps light out
- Strong UV and heat protection
What We Don’t Like
- There’s a slight blue hue
- Flimsy, very sticky film
Assuming your state or province allows super dark tints, Gila’s Xtreme Limo Black Auto Window tint is a quality and economical option that produces very desirable results. CHECK LATEST PRICE
5. Auto Expressions Charcoal Grey Film Static Cling
This product from Auto Expressions is one of the easiest window tint films to install. That’s because it’s an adhesive-free metalized film that clings onto glass surfaces with the power of static electricity.
Not only does this novel design feature make the film incredibly easy to apply, but it also allows it to be easily removed and reused, saving you money.
That aside, the film is available in a super dark 5% tint and slightly brighter 20% tint and provides all the benefits one would expect from a quality window tint. It will do a great job at keeping the sun’s light, heat, and UV rays out of your car, keeping it cooler, cutting blinding glare, diminishing interior fading, and reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Unfortunately, metalized tints have a tendency of causing slight interference with electronic signals, such as those used by phones, radios, and GPS. This isn’t the best product for those who don’t have a stable network in their car or area.
Quite a few users have also had issues removing bubbles that form during the installation process.
Things We Like
- Good protection against the sun’s harmful effects
- Static cling technology makes it easy to apply and remove
What We Don’t Like
- Metalized tint may interfere with radio, GPS, and phone signals
- May form difficult-to-remove bubbles
If you want a quality product that isn’t a hassle to install, we highly recommend Auto Expressions’ Black Magic Insta Cling Window Tint film. It makes DIY window tinting a lot less challenging. CHECK LATEST PRICE
6. MotoShield Pro Premium Precut Ceramic Window Tint
Of all the products on our list, the MotoShield Pro Premium Precut Ceramic Window Tint has the widest tint range and one of the largest size selections. Not only are there eight different sizes to choose from, but the tint percentage ranges from as low as 5% to as high as 75%.
This ceramic film doesn’t use any metal, carbon materials, or dyes, making it eco-friendly. More than that, it blocks up to 99 percent of UV rays and heat, cuts down sun glare by approximately 70 percent, and lowers interior temperature by as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ceramic film is very durable and, unlike metalized tints, doesn’t interfere with electronic signals. MotoShield Pro product is fade-resistant and doesn’t scratch easily.
The fact that it’s pre-cut makes the installation process easier, and you’re sure to get a professional look after proper application.
Ceramic films generally make for the best window tints; however, as with all the products on our list, installation can be difficult for beginners, and it can be particularly tricky to apply the film on curved glass surfaces.
You may also have an issue with MotoShield Pro’s film arriving with creases. The shipping process can be gentler.
Things We Like
- Ceramic is the highest quality pigment
- Excellent UV, heat, and sun glare protection
- Fade-resistant, scratch-resistant
- Pre-cut for easier installation
What We Don’t Like
- May arrive with creases
- Not easy to install for beginners
With a great selection of different sizes and the widest tint range, the MotoShield Pro Premium Precut Ceramic Window Tint certainly has the right size and shade for your car. CHECK LATEST PRICE
7. Install Proz Double Ply Window Film
Next up on our list is the Install Proz Double Ply Window Film, a high-quality product with many great reviews.
It’s a heavy-duty tint made from solid materials that don’t crumple or crease easily. Unlike lesser products, it won’t fade or turn into an unpleasant purple shade.
You get to choose from a variety of VLT tint percentages, from a super dark 5% VLT to a very bright 50%, all of which provide a lot of privacy from the outside looking in and good visibility from the inside looking out.
The charcoal color of the tint means you won’t have to deal with any unpleasant blue or purple hue from the inside of your vehicle.
You get solid all-around protection from the sun’s harmful effects, so your skin, eyes, and interior upholstery all benefit.
This is a very expensive roll of film, but it’s reasonably easy to install and you get enough to tint the windows of approximately four standard-size sedans, with some left over for making and fixing mistakes during installation.
Things We Like
- Made from high quality, very durable materials
- Solid production from heat, SUV rays, and sunlight
- Scratch- and fade-resistant
- Professional look
What We Don’t Like
- Very expensive
If you have a lot of money to spend on a high-quality, very durable roll of window tint film, we suggest giving the Install Proz Double Ply Window Film a serious look. CHECK LATEST PRICE
8. Gila Heat Shield Plus 20% VLT Automotive Window Tint
Yet another Gila product on our list, this time the Heat Shield Plus Automotive Window Tint.
Designed for the rear window, this film has a very dark VLT tint percentage of 20% and provides great infrared protection, blocking out most of the sun’s harmful UV rays and heat to keep your car cooler on hot summer days, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and prevent your interior surfaces from fading.
It also has advanced glare blocking that makes driving safer.
Whereas most other products give you a large piece of rolled film to cut and shape to fit your window, this one comes in long, narrow strips that are applied next to each other, a method of application that makes removing trapped bubbles easier.
However, lining up these long strips can be somewhat tricky, and you may end up with some overlapping, or worse, gaps.
Also, some users have noted that the tint has a slight blue hue that you may find undesirable.
Things We Like
- Quality dark tint that effectively keeps light out
- Strong UV and heat protection
- Comes in long, narrow strips for easier application
What We Don’t Like
- Strips can be difficult to line up
- Tint has a slight blue hue
On top of being one of the best car window tints for combating the sun’s tyranny, this Gila product is a different take on DIY window tinting. CHECK LATEST PRICE
Window Tint Buying Guide
Use this expertly researched buying guide to learn about window tints and narrow down your choices when looking for the best window tint for your car.
What Is Window Tint?
A window tint is a thin layer of film that is applied to the inside of a vehicle’s glass window, be it the windshield, side windows, and/or rear window to block out the sun’s light, heat, and UV rays.
Of the various types of tint, most are made out of a clear polyester film with a very thin tinting agent (dyes, metals, etc.) deposited onto it.
Contrary to popular belief, window tint is not applied onto the outer surface of the glass. It is instead bonded to the inner surface, a design feature that protects the film itself from hazards outside the car, such as flying debris.
Another common misconception is that the dark treatment and appearance of window tint makes nighttime driving impossible. In truth, window tint films are available in a wide variety of shades and gradations and, unlike sunglasses, are designed to reduce glare, not impede visibility in the dark.
How Does Window Tint work?
Normal auto glass without tint reflects around 5 percent of visible light, absorbs another 5 percent, and transmits 90 percent of the light into the car. These percentages can change drastically once window tint is applied.
The figure you will most commonly see is the Visible Light Transmittance (VLT) percentage, which shows the amount of light a film allows to shine into the interior, as well as indicate how dark the tint looks. The lower the percentage, the less light is let through.
Different types of tints have different characteristics. For example, some tints are fabricated to be more reflective, while others absorb more light.
Benefits Of Window Tinting
A good set of window tints can do wonders for your vehicle’s interior, as well as your well-being. Let’s look at seven good reasons why you should tint your windows.
1. Keep Car Cooler
Car interiors can get extremely hot during the summertime or in very hot climates, making it uncomfortable for both driver and passengers. Window tinting, together with a top-rated windshield sun shade, can make your interior significantly cooler.
2. UV Protection
The sun’s ultraviolet radiation can be very damaging to the human body, potentially causing serious health issues such as skin cancer and premature aging. Extensive exposure also damages the polymers found in fabric.
Quality window film can block up to 99 percent of SUV rays from the interior of your vehicle, helping protect skin, eyes, and interior upholstery from damage. Window tinting is so effective that the Skin Cancer Foundation even recommends it as a part of a complete skin protection regimen.
3. Reduce Glare
Sun glare can blind you when you’re driving into the sun, increasing your risk of getting into an accident. Having a health condition such as astigmatism or wearing eyeglasses that lack anti-reflective coating compounds that risk.
Window tint can help reduce and even completely get rid of the glare caused by your side and rear window, greatly reducing the risk of eye strain and fatigue.
4. Get More Privacy
Window films reduce visibility into your interior while simultaneously providing a clear view out. In doing so, they help conceal any valuables you might have in your car, particularly those in the back seat.
5. Better Fuel-Efficiency
By keeping your vehicle’s interior cooler, window tinting makes you less dependent on your car’s air conditioner, reducing your fuel consumption and saving you money. In fact, a quality window tint can make a car up to 60 percent cooler during the summer for very noticeable fuel savings.
6. Glass Protection
Many window films have an adhesive layer that helps hold glass together in the event of impacts, be it from a collision or an attempted break-in. Basically, the best auto window tint can help keep all occupants safer during impacts and protect your belongings from theft.
Types Of Window Tint
Unlike other accessories you might get for your car, choosing the right window tint is not simple. For one thing, they come in so many different types that deciding on the one to get can be quite challenging.
At the most basic level, there are five types of window tint, and knowing the pros and cons of each one will certainly help you choose the right one.
Dyed window tint is the most popular type of window tint and is particularly popular with those who tint their windows mostly for aesthetic reasons.
Dyed film features a layer of dye between the adhesive layer and a protective polyester top coating. It usually has a flat appearance from the outside and gives occupants good visibility.
This film is non-reflective, glare-blocking, and more affordable than the other types of tint. However, it deteriorates quickly in high temperatures and provides less protection against the sun’s UV rays and heat. Excessive UV exposure causes the dye to fade over time, turning it from black to purple.
Metalized window tints have metallic particles embedded in their material, making them a thicker type of film. It consists of a base adhesive layer, a UV-blocking layer, a metalized layer for reflecting light and darkening the glass, and a protective topcoat to prevent scratches and nicks.
These tints are very durable, fade-resistant, and great at reducing heat and UV radiation. However, they cost more than dyed tint, have a shiny appearance that you may not like, and can interfere with electronic signals used by radios, cell phones, GPS, TPMS, and other electronic devices.
Carbon tints provide a sleek-looking dark, matte-black finish that effectively blocks UV rays and helps protect interior upholstery from fading. The tint itself doesn’t fade and helps reduce your fuel consumption by reducing your reliance on your car’s air conditioning.
Two downsides of carbon film are that they can appear a bit hazy from certain angles and are usually more expensive than dyed and metalized tints.
Ceramic film is the highest quality window tint film. It uses nonmetallic and nonconductive ceramic particles to block up to 99 percent of the sun’s heat and UV rays and reduce more glare than the other tints.
Ceramic window tints are also fade-resistant, highly shatter-proof, and do not obstruct electronic signals. However, as you’d expect of the best type of window tint, they are expensive.
Some cars come with pre-tinted windows. This tinting is applied in the factory and is not removable.
“Deep dipping” is the process used to apply factory tints. While it does an effective job at darkening the glass, it’s not the best car window tint for UV and heat protection. Factory-tinted windows are also usually not dark enough to offer a lot of privacy.
Although you won’t be able to tint your windows using deep dipping, you can almost always apply aftermarket tint on factory-tinted windows for added protection. Just make sure to properly calculate the combined visible light transmission percentage (VLT%) of both the original factory tint and the new film so that you don’t overdo the tint.
Top Window Tint Brands
SunTek, MotoShield Pro, GILA, LEXEN, and 3M all have years, if not decades, of experience making quality window film and are among the top window tint brands.
SunTek is a part of the Eastman Chemical Company, a global manufacturer of advanced materials and specialty additives with over 60 years of film technology experience. The Suntek Carbon Window Film is one of its top products.
MotoShield Pro has been a pioneer in advanced ceramic coatings for race vehicles for over eight years and is well-known for its easy-to-clean, ultra-smooth surface nano-paint protectants for car windows. One of its products, the MotoShield Pro PreCut Ceramic Tint Film, has a very big fan base.
Gila Window Film is another reputable brand of Eastman, a specialty additives company that’s been in the business for more than 60 years. One of its most popular products is the Gila Heat Shield Automotive Window Tint.
Established in 2010, LEXEN is a Formula One- and LLumar-authorized window tint vendor committed to producing and selling high-quality window film at very affordable prices. The LEXEN 2 Ply Premium Carbon Window Tint Film is one of its best car window tints.
Having started as a small-scale mining company in the midwestern U.S. over 100 years ago, 3M has grown to become a global conglomerate that produces over 60,000 products in the fields of consumer goods, industry, worker safety, and health care, including window films such as the popular 3M 2080 G12 Gloss Black Car Wrap Vinyl Film.
Features Of The Best Window Tint
Car window tints can be so beneficial to your car and personal well-being that the decision to get it is often a no-brainer. However, picking the right one requires a lot of thought and consideration.
Let’s look at five key factors for choosing a good window tint.
Pre-Cut Vs. Rolled
Pre-cut films come with a precise fit that matches the dimensions of your car windows. This spares you the trouble of having to measure and cut the film yourself; however, there is no room for mistakes during application. You’ll need to get a new set if a piece of the film gets crumpled or damaged.
Rolled tints require cutting to achieve a proper fit, but you have room to make mistakes. Also, they are more affordable than pre-cut films.
The main reason why people get their windows tinted is to block out sunlight. To that end, window tint films typically come in various shades and are measured by the percentage of visible light transmission (VLT) they allow to pass through.
The lower the percentage, the less light penetrates the tint. So a window tint with a VLT of 40 percent will allow only 40 percent of sunlight to enter the interior. You’ll have to decide what the best window tint percentage is for you.
Ultraviolet radiation rays are powerful, low-frequency radiation from the sun that can damage DNA and the polymers that make up your interior’s upholstery and components.
Not all types of window tint provide the same level of UV protection. Ceramic films, for example, have 99 percent efficacy, while carbon, metalized, and dyed films provide notably less protection.
The more UV blocking power a tint has, the better it is at protecting you, your passengers, and your interior from sun damage.
In addition to shielding against the sun’s light and UV rays, you want your window tint to prevent the infrared portion of sunlight from heating your interior to unbearable levels, especially if you live in a hot climate and don’t often get the chance to park in a garage or the shade.
Ceramic film tints are the most effective at doing this. Before going with another type of tint, check the product description to make sure it provides sufficient heat shielding.
Ease of Application
Window tinting is not a particularly easy task, especially if you have never done it before and decide to do it all by yourself. You want a product that makes your life easier while delivering great results.
If you feel that you don’t have the time, patience, or confidence to get the job done right, consider getting the help of a professional. Many car owners acquire the services of an auto tinting shop.
The longevity of a particular model is another key factor of consideration. There is no point in buying a window tint that deteriorates quickly. Knowing how long it will last after being exposed to the elements, particularly the sun, will help ensure you don’t waste your money.
The longer a window tint product lasts, the more money you will save in the long run.
Many window tint brands offer a variety of colors in addition to the customary shades of black, including blue, gray, green, and amber. This allows you to give your car a more distinct look while simultaneously protecting your interior and all occupants from the sun’s harmful effects.
As with black tint, make sure the color tint you’re considering provides a desirable VLT level and good UV and heat protection.
Window Tinting Laws
Many countries, states, and provinces around the world have strict regulations governing the tinting of car windows, so check the relevant laws in your jurisdiction to make sure the window tint application you’re considering is legal.
If you live in the United States, here are the window tint laws for each state.
Which Windows To Tint
Even though jurisdictions around the world have their own set of laws and regulations, most of their rules are similar, if not identical.
Tinting a car’s windshield is generally not allowed because of the risk of the tint impeding the driver’s visibility. However, some jurisdictions allow tinting a few inches off the top of the windshield.
For example, the states of Oregon and Alabama allow as much as 6 inches (15 cm) of tint from the top, while California, Michigan, and Colorado permit up to 4 inches (10 cm).
The AS1 line is often used as the demarcation line. It is a subtle hash mark or line etched about 5 or 6 inches (13-15 cm) from the top of most vehicle windshields.
Rear And Side Windows
Tinting the rear and side windows is permitted by most jurisdictions. However, some places such as New Jersey and New Hampshire do not allow the front side windows to be tinted.
The main difference among the jurisdictions is the minimum VLT percentage (discussed in more detail in the next section). Take the rear window, for example: Some jurisdictions set high percentages, while others like New York, Nevada, and Ontario Canada don’t impose restrictions.
Window tint is rated in Visible Light Transmittance (VLT), which measures the amount of light that passes through into the car. The lower the percentage, the less light that passes through.
A typical light tint allows 70 percent of the light in, while medium and dark tints transmit about 20 and 5 percent of light, respectively.
The required VLT rating varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, with the strictest jurisdictions requiring at least 70 percent of the light to pass through the glass.
When considering the legal compliance of a tint, bear in mind that many modern vehicles come with a factory-installed tint that can’t be removed. This factory tint will compound with any other tint you might apply to it.
For example, if your vehicle comes with a factory-tinted window of 50 percent VLT, and you apply an aftermarket tint of 70 percent on top of that, you’ll end up with a combined VLT rating of 35 percent, which may or may not comply with the laws in your jurisdiction.
To find your combined tint, simply multiply one percentage by the other: 0.50 x 0.70 = .35 = 35 percent. Find out if you have factory-tinted windows by checking your vehicle user’s manual.
How To Apply Window Tint
Applying or installing a car window tint is a time-consuming process that requires persistence; however, it’s fairly straightforward and can be completed with very basic tools.
If you have the time and patience for DIY window tinting, the following step-by-step guide will show you how to do it like a professional.
Tools You Will Need
The following are the tools you will need to effectively clean your windows and apply the window tint:
- Your choice of the best auto window tint film. Make sure it complies with the laws and regulations in your city, state/province, or country.
- Spray bottle with window-tint-film application solution. This will be used to both clean and lubricate the window and film.
- Razor blade for removing residue on the application surface.
- Utility knife for cutting the window tint film precisely.
- Right-size squeegee for removing fluid off the application surface and smoothing out bubbles.
- Hard card or a thin ruler for removing fluid and smoothing out bubbles in hard-to-reach areas of your window.
- Microfiber or lint-free cloth for drying the surface and preventing fibers from getting trapped under the film.
- Heat gun for conforming the film to the curved surface of the window or removing creases. This tool is not necessary, but it can be helpful.
If you don’t have any of these items, consider getting a window tinting toolset that comes with everything you need to get the job done.
Preparing Your Windows
Even the best window tint can be rendered useless if applied to an unclean surface. For the installation to go smoothly, your car windows need to be pre-conditioned before applying the tinting film. Here’s what you need to do:
- Clean the interior and exterior of your windows thoroughly using the application solution provided or a specialized car wash soap. Roll the windows up and down to make sure you get every section, and use a squeegee and a clean, low-lint cloth to thoroughly dry.
- A razor blade can be used to remove any residue, dirt, or grime, but with some precautions. Don’t use the blade on any window that has defroster or antenna lines, and if you’re working with factory tinted windows, take care not to damage the tint
- If you need to remove an old tint, use a fabric steamer to soften the film’s adhesive, peel off the film, and clean the windows.
- To avoid dirt and debris from ruining your work, park your car in a dust-free area such as a garage. If you must work outside, do so on a windless day, since wind can blow unwanted substances onto your window or the tint’s sticky adhesive.
- Keep your car running as you work — applying the tint requires rolling the windows up and down.
Measuring And Cutting The Film
If you purchased a pre-cut window tint, you don’t have to measure and cut the film to get a precise fit for your window, though you should double-check to make sure it’s a good fit.
If you’re working with rolled window tint film, the following instructions will guide you through measuring and cutting the tint to the right shape and size.
Step 1. Roll your window up completely in order to measure it. Take this time to also identify which side of your window tint film has the sticky, adhesive liner (it’s slick to the touch and usually has some sort of print on it).
Step 2. Spray the outside of the glass with a bit of application solution, and lay the film over the entire window (frame and all) with the adhesive liner facing you. The solution should hold the film in place while allowing you to slide it around as you work.
Step 3. With film secured, trim away the excess film and put the rest of the roll to the side.
Step 4. Position the film one-half inch below the top of the window’s inside gasket, and wet the outside with application fluid. Then with a sharp knife or blade, trim along the window seals, starting with the left and right edges. To avoid damaging the glass, press on the knife gently and maintain a low angle.
Step 5. Before trimming the top edge, gently lift the film from the bottom of the glass so that the film does not crease when the window is rolled down. Once that’s done, roll the window down by about 2 inches (5.08 cm) to expose the top of the glass.
Step 6. Using the top of the glass as a guide, gently and cleanly trim the film to the upper edge.
Step 7. Recenter and carefully round out any corners that aren’t smooth. The film should now be cut-to-size.
Aligning And Applying The Film
After cutting the film to match your window glass, you’ll need to align and apply it to the inside of the glass. The following steps will show you how:
Step 1. Thoroughly clean the interior of the window a second time to make sure there is no dirt, fingerprints, smudges, or other unwanted substances that can ruin your tint job. Apply some application fluid and wipe with a squeegee and low-lint cloth as many times as you think necessary.
This step is crucial, so don’t skip it. Use a razor blade to gently remove any stubborn spots and be sure to wipe down all seals where dirt and debris might be trapped.
Step 2. With the film still attached to the outside of the window, peel off the adhesive’s protective layer. Then spray the exposed adhesive with a bit of application fluid.
Step 3. If it isn’t already, roll down the window 2 inches and spray the inside of the glass generously with application fluid. Carefully remove the film off the outside of the glass and apply the wet adhesive side to the inside glass. Having the application fluid on both the glass and film will make positioning the film easier.
Step 4. Before positioning the film, fold up the button section so that the adhesive does not touch the door panel and pick up any dirt. That done, slide the film into place, leaving about a 1/8-inch gap at the top edge of the window.
Step 5. Spray the film yet again, and using the squeegee, press it firmly to the glass to remove all solution from under it. Make sure to push the water upwards and to the sides and not downwards, as the lower portion of the film has yet to be applied to the glass.
Step 6. Once the upper portion is lined up, use both hands to get the edges of the film under the window seals. Then roll the window up to begin applying the button section of the film.
Step 7. To ensure the bottom of the glass is clean, respray and squeegee the area. Wet the glass again and unfold the film onto it.
Step 8. Use a hard card, thin ruler, or the edge of the squeegee to tuck the lower part of the film into the bottom window seal, being careful not to crease it.
Step 8. Once the film is tucked neatly into the window seal, firmly squeegee left, right, and downwards to push out all water and bubbles and smooth out the film. Be meticulous.
For stubborn bubbles, use a heat gun to gently warm the area and then squeegee the bubbles toward the closest window edge To prevent ripping the film, keep spaying application fluid as you work.
Step 9. To finish, carefully wrap your squeegee in a lint-free cloth and run it across the entire glass. Use the cloth to also dry the door trim, seals, and surrounding paintwork.
Step 10. Once everything has been dried, let the film cure for at least 24 hours before rolling down your windows. This will give it time to properly adhere to your widow and avoid wrinkling.
Note: Car windows are often curved and require shrinking the window tint film with a heat gun or applying multiple thin strips to get a precise fit. If this sounds daunting, you may want to have a professional install your window tint.
Best Window Tint FAQs And Answers
For something so uncomplicated, window tints sure do garner a lot of questions from the general public. While we answered the most popular questions in our window tint reviews and buying guide sections, here some other great questions that may not have been addressed.
Are Window Tints Illegal?
Every jurisdiction (state, province, etc.) has different laws about auto tinting, usually concerning a tint’s VLT percentage. In most places, it is illegal to tint the windshield beyond the AS1 line, though tinting the side and rear windows is usually allowed with some restrictions.
Don’t tint your car windows without first checking your state or provincial laws for compliance.
How Long Does Window Tint Last?
This depends on the type and quality of the window tint and how it’s installed; however, properly installed and cured window tint can generally last 10 years or more.
Ceramic window tint film is more durable than dyed film, while poor-quality window film of any type can show signs of deterioration (fading, peeling, etc.) under constant sun exposure in a matter of weeks or even days, lasting only several months.
How Long Does It Take To Tint Car Windows?
The amount of time varies depending on the number and size of the car windows being worked on. Tinting an entire car can take 2 to 4 hours, with larger vehicles taking longer than smaller ones.
Expect to spend one to two hours tinting the windows of a standard-size car and possibly over two hours for larger vehicles such as SUVs, crossovers, and minivans. If old film has to be removed, the process can take up to half a day.
How Much Does Window Tint Cost?
Window tints, including higher-end models, are not prohibitively expensive. DIY tint kits typically cost under $100 and are more affordable than professional tinting services. However, they are not the best option if you don’t have the time, patience, and skill needed for tinting windows.
With professional services in the United States, tinting an entire average-sized car with basic tint may cost $99, while using higher quality tint usually costs between $199 to $400 for the whole vehicle.
Carbon vs Ceramic Tint – Which Is Better?
Carbon window tint film is the best type of window tint for blocking out the sun’s UV rays and heat. It’s also more durable than other tints, lasting 5 to 10 years.
Window tinting has more benefits than most people realize. Not only can the best auto window tint protect your eyes from the sun and keep your car cooler, but it will also block a significant amount of UV rays, which can damage your skin and your car’s interior.
Needless to say, the benefits far outweigh the couple hundred dollars it will cost to get your car windows tinted for hot, sunny weather. Use our windows tint reviews and detailed buying guide to find the right one for your needs.
The LEXEN 2 Ply Premium Carbon Window Tint Film is our pick for the best window tint. Cutting and heat-shrinking this high-quality rolled film is easy, and it produces a very clean, haze-free look.