APR Your Car
3 Things to Do Before Getting a Car Window Tinted
Window tinting is one of the cheapest ways to upgrade your ride, in terms of both outer appearance and interior comfort. But if you choose the wrong material or the wrong installer, it can turn into a nightmare. Some people try to do it themselves—sometimes with disastrous results—and even choosing the right professional to do the job can be challenging because there are so many window tint installers in Wichita, Kansas.
This article will cover the three top tasks you should undertake before before getting a window tint, so you can make an informed decision.
First, let’s talk about the pros and cons of window tinting, as compared to factory tints or no tint at all.
| ||No window tint||Factory Tint||Window tinting film|
|UV protection||Wash only||No||No|
|Solar heat protection||Some maint. required||Yes||Yes|
The most permanent window tint is done at the factory. The tint is embedded in the glass, so there is no chance of peeling. But factory tints offer no protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays or solar heat.
Window tint films, sometimes called “aftermarket tints,” offer protection against both, even with light tints that do not significantly limit visible light. But aftermarket tints require a bit of extra attention compared to the other options. Use a microfiber cloth to clean your film, and never use abrasive cleaning products. You can squeegee tinted window films as long as there are no metal edges that may come in contact with the surface.
If you’re willing to invest a little extra effort when cleaning tinted film, the benefits are worth it. It reduces interior heat by up to 70 percent, which makes your summer drive time more pleasant. It protects your skin from UV rays—and your car’s interior, which maintains the value of the vehicle.
Step 1 – Do your homework
Window tinting is a skilled craft, and some installation options are better than others, so it’s important to do some research before making a decision.
Get referrals from friends
Talk to to friends who have had their windows tinted and find out which shops they have used and how they feel about the quality of the work. Have they had problems with the tint peeling? Did they have a positive customer service experience?
Call—then visit—a few window tint shops
There’s no substitute for experience, so it’s safest to start by calling a few shops that have been around for a while. Anyone can open a window tinting business with very low startup costs, but that doesn’t mean they can do good work.
Narrow your list to two or three shops with good reputations, then visit them. Here’s what to look for on your visit:
- Attention to customer service – Any shop worth their salt will take time to explain what they do, why they use the materials they do, and what kinds of tinting options are available to you.
- A neat, clean shop – Window tinting techniques require a clean work environment. Dust and dirt around the shop could mean contaminants in the adhesive as the tint is being applied—a real problem. Tools and workspaces should look neat and well-organized.
- Samples of their work – Ask to see a window tint job they have recently completed. They should have no problem with this, if their work is good and they are eager to earn your business. Inspect their craftsmanship in these areas:
Here’s what to look for on your visit (cont.):
- o Look closely at gaskets and paint around the windows. Are there slices, nicks or scratches in them? This could be a sign of sloppy workmanship during installation.
- o Check the edges of the tint film. There should be no flaws or lack of adhesion. Side window films should extend inside the chassis.
- o Make sure the rear window tint is one solid piece of film. Some installers patch this together around defroster lines, but a solid piece of film provides the best adhesion.
- o Obviously, bubbles are a no-no. But you may see some streaking in the film, and this is normal. The adhesive will dry in a week or so, and this discoloration will go away.
- Ask about their warranty – Any reputable shop will provide a warranty and stand behind it.
- Find out how long they have been in business – Look for a shop that has been around for several years. If they have been successful for a while, they are more likely to be around later, should you run into problems with the work. Established shops are also more likely to have skilled, experienced employees.
- Get a cost quote – Now it’s time to compare pricing. The lowest price tag is not always the best, but sometimes you can get excellent, cheap window tinting, when a shop has its operation humming along.
2 – Avoid the DIY window tinting trap
Yes, you can do your own window tint and save a lot of money compared to paying an installer. And there are plenty of do-it-yourself kits available in stores and online. But let’s put the brakes on this idea for a minute. There are auto repairs and renovations that make a lot of sense to do yourself, but window tinting requires enough skill to place it outside of that realm, for most people.
Applying window tint isn’t anything like replacing an alternator or changing a tire, so general automotive skills won’t help you much. It’s more like applying wallpaper. The process requires skill with tools most of us don’t use every day, and there are no second chances in the window tinting process; you just have to buy more film when you make a mistake.
If you are very skilled with your hands, have an artistic eye and are experienced working with these types of tools and materials in a dustless environment, you may do fine. But the second problem with DIY is the quality of the film that comes in most retail kits. If you still want to try this yourself, do your online research and find a source for professional quality film.
Finally, there is no installation warranty when you do it yourself.
3 – Find out how dark window tint can legally be in your state
Many states and cities have laws restricting the maximum darkness of window tints because they are viewed as a safety concern for patrol officers. We’re writing this post from Wichita, Kansas, and our city has no regulation, but the maximum tint darkness allowed in our state is posted here. A quick Google search should uncover the same resource for readers in other areas. Any reputable tint shop will, of course, know the regulation in your state.
And remember: if you’re looking for UV protection, even a very light tint provides excellent protection. When you talk to a shop, they may use the term VLT, so let’s take a short lesson on VLT ratings.
The window tint rating system
Tint ratings define how much light passes through the film, so tint darkness is measured by Visible Light Transmission—a VLT rating. With a 5 percent VLT, your windows will block 95 percent of visible light. With a 20 percent VLT, 80 percent of the visible light is blocked. Ultraviolet light does not fall into the visible spectrum, so films with very low VLT ratings can do a great job of keeping these harmful rays out. The same is true of solar heat.
After you have done your research, go get that tint. It’s makes your interior last longer, improves interior comfort, obscures valuables from would-be thieves, and makes your car look much cooler.