Auto window tinting?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Steve Schaffer, Sep 4, 2004.

  1. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I'm considering getting my new car's windows tinted, not for appearance sake but to possibly help with the intense summer heat here in Fresno, and would appreciate any advice from folks who've had this done.

    It's my understanding that the interior door trim panels need to be removed for this.

    I'm in California, so tint on the front side windows is illegal. I am considering a medium tint for the rear door and back windows, but wonder if there's either a very mild tint for the front doors or if there's a product that cuts UV with little or no noticeable tint that I could get away with here in CA.

    Also, my car lacks that gradually tinted band at the top edge of the windshield and I was wondering if anything similar with a gradual tint is available. All I've seen in this regard are solid non-graduated bands of tint material added to the top edge of the windshield which looks a bit tacky imho.

    Any and all help appreciated.
     
  2. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    Steve S asking us for car advice ?????? What's the world coming too ? Guess dealerships don't offer it...

    I'm interested in this info also. Besides the benefits listed above it also appears a mild threat deterrent, plus passerbys won't see what a slob I am...
     
  3. Michael X

    Michael X Stunt Coordinator

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    You'll have to check for the most recent information on the laws in your particular state/area, but generally tint on all windows except the windshield is perfectly legal, provided it allows at least 35% of the light through, and is not too reflective (mirror tint). Generally if you don't tint the front driver/passenger windows, you can tint the other windows as dark as you want. Most people find that going too dark hinders visibility while driving at night, so 35-45% tint is usually good enough. You can have the rear window tinted with darker tint to allow less light into the interior, while keeping visibility out of the side windows. There are some tints that cut 99.9% of UV rays, but these vary from brand to brand in appearance so you'd have to check them out on a vehicle to see if its for you. You could probably have the whole vehicle except the windshield done with UV tint and it wouldn't be dark enough to cause any legal issues.

    If you have cloth or some kind of fabric on the door panels, or electronic controls on them like power windows/locks/mirrors, you might want to have them removed before tinting since alot of places just slap the tint on using hot soapy water and since it isn't their car, don't care where the water goes. Plastic sheets can also be used to protect the panel but really its better to find a place that does a good job and uses the minimum amount of water on the tint itself.

    Find a place that offers a name brand tint, and get written proof the brand offers an unlimited lifetime warranty on the tint itself and the install work, and the shop is an authorized installer/dealer. Make sure you're dealing with a shop that buys the stuff in very, very large rolls. Ask for a sample, the tint should feel firm and thick almost like a thin piece of plastic. It should NOT be thin or flimsy like paper, this is the cheap type of film you can buy at auto parts stores. Follow the directions given after the install (like not rolling down your windows for a few days) so you don't mess up the tint. After that, inspect the tint for any peeling, chips, or anything else that would require a new piece of tint. If theres no problems, enjoy it and keep your receipt and warranty info in case theres any problems later on. Sometimes the warranty is transferrable to a new owner if you sell the car as well.

    FWIW, I find tint doesn't really "help" reduce heat in a vehicle or make the a/c work better or anything else that is so common in window tint advertising. However, it seems that a UV blocking tint would be a great idea, especially in areas with intense sunlight.

    As for the windshield sun band, its technically illegal to add on ANY kind of tint to a windshield, even just a bit at the top, but you could get a band of the UV tint on there if you didn't find it looked too tacky. There are spray-on gimmicks that try to give the effect of the factory sun band but are rather unsafe since they block your visibility more than a strip of tint would. The other option would be to get an aftermarket windshield, as these usually come with the option of a sunband strip.
     
  4. Tim Markley

    Tim Markley Screenwriter

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    I have 20% tint in my Vette all around and it definitely helps to keep my all black leather interior cooler in the CA sun. The 20% is illegal on the front windows but it hasn't caused any problems for me. If you go with 35% on the front windows, you shouldn't have a problem. I had 35% on my BMW for years and never had a problem with the law.
     
  5. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I did a bit of research and found that in CA front side window tint is legal but only up to 70%, meaning at least 70% of the light transferred with no extra tint is allowed to come thru, no less. No limit on rear side or back window, windshield ok but only the top 4". Tints are not allowed to increase reflectivity so metallic tints are apparently not allowed (don't like those anyway).

    I contacted one place and found out what brands of film they use, SunTek and Llumar and then went to the film mfgs websites to find what the warranty is on their various products. The dealer I talked to stated they would do rear side, back, and front side windows for $160, with and extra $10 off during the labor day weekend, with lifetime wty. They also said they'd done tints on my particular model before, which I was glad to hear as I didn't want my car to be a "guinea pig".

    As for the windshield, it has one of those dotted areas behind the mirror in the center, extending to the sides to about where the inboard edges of the sunvisors reach. This does a good job of eliminating sun glare from the area between the mirror edges and the visors that is not covered by the visors. I was thinking just adding dotted film (if there is such a thing) in the bare areas would match better and have a better overall appearance than a non-graduated strip of tint film?

    As for not knowing about this stuff in the first place even though I've been a dealership tech for 33+ years, we dealership techs in general have a knee-jerk reaction against almost any kind of aftermarket alterations to vehicles. This applies more to aftermarket alarms and stereos and such which tend to wreak havoc with the electrical systems if not properly installed.

    Window tint films are easily damaged when having to do repairs involving removing the door glass--power window regulators and motors and such, while the non-modified glass is a lot less likely to be accidentally damaged. I cringe every time I need to remove aftermarket tinted door glass. I figure that since this is my own car and I am probably not gonna be having such repairs (if necessary at all) done by anyone else I'll be ok.

    I do have black leather covered seats, and the factory glass on this model doesn't seem to have any UV protection (most all Toyotas have UV reducing glass).

    Thanks so much for all the good advice, I knew I'd get it here, you guys are the best!
     
  6. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    Please do one thing, and get ALL of the windows tinted to the same degree. It's absoloutly ugly when people have 30% on the driver/passenger window and a limo tint on the rears.

    looks like shit to me..

    B
     
  7. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Steve, when I bought my CRX 16 years ago, I had Sun Tek film istalled on all windows except the windshield. In all that time I've had the car (and driven it daily in the hot Texas sun), only this past year has the film begun to peel up about an inch on one edge of the side rear window. The rest of it, even the rear hatch, still looks almost new.

    When they told me about the lifetime warranty, I told them I intended to keep the car forever. They said, "No problem. You won't be back for warranty work even if you keep the car for fifteen years." They weren't kidding.

    I know installation is half the job, but if you can find a good installer, I don't think you could go wrong with Sun Tek. After living with it for 16 years, I know I couldn't be happier. I didn't know it was possible for this stuff to last this long.
     
  8. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I drove by one place today that looked sorta fly-by-night because I couldn't find the one I'd talked to on the phone,
    didn't even get out of the car at the first place, lotsa junky stuff hanging in their display window. Later I found the place I'd talked to tucked neatly away in a business park--much more professional looking than the 1st place, looked like it'd been there quite a while.

    I'm dealing with Phoenix AZ conditions here so the back is probably gonna have to be a bit darker than what's legal in CA on the front but I'm not going any darker back there than the typical factory tint you find on the back windows of most SUVS and minivans--that total blackout thing in the back really turns me off.

    Thanks, Brian, for the good word on the SunTek--really helps to know from someone with firsthand experience. I doubt if it's gonna have to last 16 years but I do love this car more than any other I've had since my first (a '62 Corvair Monza I got for $600 back in 1968) so it's just possible.
     
  9. Vincent_S

    Vincent_S Second Unit

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    I'm no pro but I have never heard of interior panels having to be removed to tint windows.[​IMG] I guess it could depend on the type of car you have though.
     
  10. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Once or twice a year we have to fix or replace trim panels damaged when they were removed without getting all the screws out, sometimes by stereo installers and occasionally by tinters. 'course this was as reported by the customers, who may just as easily have done the damage themselves in a diy project gone bad.

    Anyway, I'm taking the car in at 1:30 this afternoon to have the job done.
     
  11. Randy Tennison

    Randy Tennison Screenwriter

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    I've tinted a few windows, and can't for the life of me figure out why you would need to remove the trim panels. You tint what is visible when the window is rolled up (adding some to the top for when it is rolled down, so it doesn't look like brentl's piece of shit).

    Why tint window that is never going to show???
     
  12. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    They didn't have to pull any panels. In my research I found a forum apparently for tint installers where some guy asked how to remove some trim panels which somehow gave me the idea this was gonna be necessary.

    Anyway I got a 50% on the front windows and the next shade darker for the rears and back, so there isn't a huge difference between the front and back. The installer said not to roll down the windows for 24 hrs or clean the inside of the glass for a few days. The warranty card from Suntek said leave windows up 5 days and don't wash for 30, I'm gonna do the latter.

    I just got dark so I'm gonna go out and see just how much night time vision is reduced, hopefully not too much.

    It was in the high 90s today at least and the tint seemed to make the car a bit more comfortable.

    I do like the way it looks from outside, it's not a really super dark but dark enough to set off the bright red color of the car.
     
  13. ChadLB

    ChadLB Screenwriter

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    I agree with that. Though I don't think it looks bad if you do 30% on all 4 doors and say limo on just the back window.
    I have had 3 out of my 4 cars tinted all the way around with same tint.
    Don't take this the wrong way but I don't know why people even bother with the 50% stuff. To me it is a waste of money but to each his own.
    I will admit though....with one of my cars I got pulled over by a undercover "State Trooper" and he actually took out a little gun thing that shoots thru the window to show how dark they are and it registered at 5%. Basically I had gotten 30% put on and after a while that wasn't dark enough for me so I had the guy put 18% film over that(didn't want to get charged extra for him to take the other stuff off.)
     
  14. David Rubenstein

    David Rubenstein Stunt Coordinator

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    I have an 04 Acura TL and when I got the windows tinted, the door panels needed to be removed to install moleskin on each window. If the moleskin is not used, the tint will scratch (from the windows going up and down). there are a number of cars that require this step (Mercedes is another).

    A good installer will know about this.
     
  15. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Too bad I missed this earlier-

    For maximum heat rejection, you want a metallized tint that has no dye in it (nearly all tints that are gray/black have dye in them, even metallized ones). LLumar's Platinum Plus is such a tint. I have it in PP35 on both of my daily-driven cars ('95 Accord EX, and '02 Acura TL-S), and it absolutely cuts down on the heat gain, substantially. The PP35 doesn't have a mirror look to it at all, but the lower PP20 does ever so slightly.

    Todd
     
  16. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Well, it's been 101 F the last couple of days, and I've noticed that the car is not as hot inside after parking in the sun and the ac is cooling it down as well at 101 as it did a week or so ago from 90 degrees, parked all day in the same place but with windows cracked a couple of inches prior to the tint, not cracked after tint, moonroof tilted up with sunshade closed both times.

    It's doing pretty much what I'd hoped it would do as far as helping keep the interior cooler, I'm happy in that regard. I've noticed that when driving on hot bright days with the sun shining thru the glass on my left arm it doesn't feel nearly as hot on my skin.

    I'm 54 years old and always before thought tint looked kinda juvenile, but I actually think it's really improved the look of my "velocity red" car.
     

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