There are a lot of things to consider when getting window tint installed on your car and once you learn about all the factors that affect the quality of your tint job, you will understand why one shop might charge you $150 for the same job that another place quoted at $100.
Before you even decide if you want to tint your vehicle make sure you check the tint laws for your state. In Florida, the legal limit is 30% on the two front windows (driver and passenger) and 15% on the rear half (back doors and rear window). These percentages you always hear about represent the amount of the light that passes through the film also known as VLT - Visible Light Transmission. Florida allows you to apply darker film on the rear half of your vehicle and lighter film on the front. We will get more into detail about percentages and shades further in the guide.
Once you check your window tinting state laws, the next step would be to determine which quality of tint will be best for you. The first thing you should look at is the different types of quality films on the market , as it makes the biggest difference and is the easiest to find out about. All those tint jobs you see that just look faded and even purplish are the result of using cheap, low quality window film. Cheap films also tend to delaminate, or peel off leaving a mess of adhesive on your window and may also bubble up once it's been exposed to the sun for a few months. This is something you really have to watch out for because low quality window tint may fool you by looking just as good right after installation, but down the road it will lead to problems. To avoid wasting your money call around and ask different installers what kind of film they use and if it comes with a lifetime guarantee or any guarantee at all. Stick with reputable films like LLumar and 3M, which are durable and should last as long as your car does, assuming it is installed correctly. Most window tint found at places like Wal-Mart, Pep Boys, AutoZone and even most local tint shops are cheap, low quality and will lead to problems down the road. They are fine if you don't plan on keeping the car for more than six months to a year or so, but if you want your tint to last avoid putting these films on your windows. Cheap price = cheap products and or installation.
Installing window tint is much harder than most people think, anyone who has ever tried to do it themselves can attest to this fact. Having a skilled installer is crucial to getting a quality tint job. If you can, ask to see some of their previous work and keep an eye out for specs of dirt or tiny pieces of hair that commonly get stuck between the film and the glass. Take a look all around the outer edges of the windows and check for any gaps and on all windows that roll up and down, also check the sides for creases or kinks which are caused by common mistakes during installation by amateur window tinters. Make sure there are no bubbles or 'fingers' in the film, which can be easily seen when looking from outside the window and appear as white circles or in the case of fingers, white finger shaped bubbles at the bottom or top of the window. Lastly, ask the installer if he will need to do any of the windows in 2 or even 3 pieces. Nowadays every car window is capable of being done in one piece which looks much nicer than seemed windows. It may be hard to find a window tinter who can do some of the toughest windows in one piece, but it is worth it to find one as it comes out looking much nicer and also means the tinter knows what he's doing and will do a good job on all your other windows as well. Remember to take a quick look at all your windows before paying and driving off with your newly tinted car, you may notice some bubbles or other imperfections that can easily be fixed by the installer on the spot but will be a much bigger problem if you don't point it out and allow the tint to dry like that. Our company provides a vigorous 10 point inspection before our customers receive the finished product. So if you purchase window film from a reputable company they should do the inspection for you although it is always a good idea to check for yourself.
Cutting out window tint by hand is now a thing of the past, most professionals have tint software which contains templates for almost every car window and can be used in conjunction with a plotter machine (the same kind used to cut out vinyl decals) to cut out each window perfectly every time. It's always safest to get your car tinted somewhere that uses computer-cut tint because it's guaranteed to fit the window perfectly every time unlike hand-cut tint which is subject to human error. Also, cutting window film by hand is done by cutting on the vehicle windows which can cause permanent damage. That being said it's still true that a skilled Installer with a steady hand can cut out windows just as good as a computer can 95% of the time, so if you're looking to save a few bucks you may be able to find a better deal from a professional who can work for less because he doesn't have all that expensive machinery and software to pay for.
Alright, so you've done your research and found a window tinting installer that you can both afford and trust to do a good job. Now all that's left is deciding on a shade and quality of tint. The legalities should play a big role in your decision, and although every state has different laws it all pretty much comes down to whether or not the cop wants to mess with you or not. Basically the whole reason there are state laws on window tinting is because of the fact that dark tint will prevent an officer from seeing who's in the car or what they're doing which poses a legitimate safety concern for police. If a cop pulls you over, even if it’s for speeding or something not tint related (which surprisingly is usually the case when someone ends up with a window tint ticket) and he has to walk up to your window without being able to see what you’re doing or who you are behind your window tint, there's a good chance it will irritate or worry the cop and that's when he's going to give you a ticket. So, although the specific laws are very important, you should also keep that in mind when you’re deciding on a shade.
Tint shades are labeled by percentages; the percentages represent the amount of light that is able to pass through the tint. So, for example 5% (which is limo tint) allows 5% of the light to pass through it while it blocks 95% of light. 50% would cut out half the light and 20% cuts out 80% allowing 20% to pass through, you get the idea. When deciding what percentage you want your window tint to be you have to take the legalities, the appearance, and also the visibility from inside the car into consideration. Many people fail to take into consideration the fact that dark tinted windows are harder to see out of, especially at night. The effect isn't nearly as drastic when looking from inside the car to the outside as it is when trying to look into the car, but it still cuts visibility enough that you should really take your time when choosing a shade, especially if you are planning on going dark. Generally, anything lighter than 30% won't give you any significant problems, unless you do something drastic like tint the entire windshield. If you plan on putting limo tint or even 15% on your car you should take into consideration the fact that you'll probably be rolling your windows down to see outside your car at night and it will just be a matter of time that you'll be ticketed.
All window tint blocks out 99% of UV rays regardless of darkness, so that shouldn't factor into your decision. Heat reduction works pretty much as expected, the darker the tint the more heat it blocks out. Choosing a high quality window film (ex. LLumar CTX Ceramic Window Film) will allow you to go lighter without sacrificing performance. In other words, even great films that offer a lifetime warranty offer different levels performance. Usually the chemical makeup determines performance and good examples of this are dyed, metal and ceramic window films. Each one offers a different level of performance and balancing performance and budget is usually a big determining factor when choosing a window film. So, even if you have an expensive car, but you’re just leasing it, you may still want to invest in a better performing film so you can enjoy more benefits.
You have the option of spending double + the money to get a very high quality film with high optical quality and heat reduction. The best and most reputable example of this is "LLumar's Ceramic Window Films." It costs more than twice as much as most films but is #1 in optical quality and performance and is so good at reducing heat that even LLumars Air Blue 80% (practically clear) blocks out more heat than most super dark window films. LLumar window film also offers a lifetime guarantee and has an amazing reputation.
You're not quite done yet, there are still a few more optional choices to consider before you carve your decision in stone. If you have a GPS in your car you should really make sure your installer is using a dye-based film or a ceramic based film. Metal-based films are very common and the metal in these films like to interfere with your GPS signal and reception or A.M. radio signal, so metalized tint isn't really an option for cars with GPS or navigation built in.
Other than that it pretty much comes down to the appearance. Which tint you think looks nice on your car. This is completely your preference but I do have some suggestions I'd like to make based on my experience and seeing so many cars get tinted. If you have some kind of luxury car I recommend you don't go too dark. Overly dark tint can totally ruin the classy look of an expensive luxury car, while a nice light (say 30%-50%) tint really adds to the elegance of the car. Therefore, excessively dark tint only works with show cars and limos. Another thing people often try to do is mix and match different shades on different windows. If you want to do this I seriously suggest taking a look at a similar car that has that kind of tint before you spend the money on it. Unless, you have kids and want more privacy for them. Again, choosing a good quality film will allow you to go lighter without sacrificing performance.
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