Window tinting is probably the easiest thing you can do to pimp out your car. The simple application of window tinting film on your car's windows can transform it visually from a run of the mill people carrier to personalized custom car without that over-the-top 'pimp my ride' look. What's more, car window tinting can reduce heat and UV radiation, especially in the sunshine states, and can increase privacy and security.
Tinted windows can block out up to 80 percent of the solar heat entering your car. This reduces the heat inside your car and will reduce the need to turn on your air conditioner while also improving the cooling efficiency of your air conditioner. This, in turn, will improve engine performance and the fuel economy of your car as less power will be required to run the air conditioner! So car window tinting is not just about pimping you car!
Reducing the UV radiation that enters your car will also extend the life of your car's interior components and will reduce the fading and weakening of fabric, and the fading and cracking of leather seats and plastic trim. In fact, tinted windows can filter out up to 95 percent of UV radiation, depending on how dark the tined film is.
Types of tinted windows
There are three ways of obtaining tinted car windows: purchasing aftermarket or OEM tinted windows; applying window tinting film to your existing windows; and applying a special tinted solution to your existing windows. Each type of tinted windows has its advantages and disadvantages.
With OEM tinted windows the car window itself is tinted during the glassmaking process. This means that it replaces your existing window and the window tint lasts the life of the glass. But OEM tinted windows are usually only available for the more popular makes of cars and usually has a mild window tint that is legal even in areas with server restrictions on car window tinting. OEM tinted windows are also more expensive to replace in the event of a collision and could lead to an increase in your insurance premiums.
Applying a thin polymer window tinting film to your existing windows is the most inexpensive and by far the most popular aftermarket method of window tinting. The polymer tinting film is available in different shades, from a mild window tint to a dark window tint, in different colors, as well as in flat, reflective, metallic, and mirror effect. But the window tint usually lasts only five years before fading, cracking, peeling, and bubbling and will need to be replaced. However, it is often more difficult to remove window tinting film than to install it!
Applying a special tinted solution, usually in the form of a spray, to your existing windows is another method of window tinting. This type of window tinting lasts much longer than applying a window tinting film but it is more difficult to apply and is not recommended as a DIY solution. It also requires that you remove your windows, including your rear screen, before applying the solution. Because of this there are only a few aftermarket shops that offer this form of window tinting.
We'll be focusing on applying polymer window tinting film to your existing windows.
How to tint your car windows
The easiest way of applying window tinting film is by removing the windows. Unfortunately, the rear screen requires some skill to remove without breaking the windscreen rubber or cracking the glass. For this reason it may be best to tint the rear screen in place. You'll also need the right tools for the job. You'll need a clean and relatively dust free working surface to cut on (a piece of flat glass will work perfectly), a squeegee to squeeze water out from under the window tinting film, some spray bottles, paper that is plastic coated on one side, a razor blade knife, mild liquid soap like baby shampoo, some paper towels, a heat gun or two (if you've got two heat guns you can strap them together for a wider working area) and a few wrenches and screw drivers to remove the side glass.
Begin by removing the side glass. This usually means removing the door handles, plastic trim and the door panel. Unbolt the glass from the window winding mechanism and remove the side rail guide. The glass can then be lifted out easily. We don't recommend removing the rear screen but you can remove obstacles that may get in the way or that is against the glass to make applying the window tinting film easier. This includes removing the third brake light and the rear deck.
Next, clean the inside of the windows thoroughly; any dirt that remains will be trapped between the glass and the window tinting film and may cause bubbles and unevenness. Also take care not to damage or scratch the side glass.
The Side Glass
Place the clean side glass on a non-abrasive surface and spray the inside of the glass with a little soap solution. Now carefully lay the window tinting film on the glass starting from the bottom of the glass and rolling the film out carefully to the top. Make sure that the bottom of the tinting film is lower than the top of the door panel so that the door rubber doesn't pull at the window tint once it's applied. Cut the polymer tinting film about one inch bigger than the side glass. Now use the squeegee to press the excess water out from between the film and the glass.
When squeezing the water out, start from the center of the glass and work your way out radially, in ever increasing circles. Once all the water is out use the heat gun to shrink out any creases. Now use the razor blade knife to cut the window tinting film about a millimeter smaller than the glass. This will ensure that the film doesn't peel when you roll up the window.
Now all that's left to do is to wipe the water from the edge of the glass using the paper towels and leave the window tinting film to dry indoors for at least a day. Then you can fit the side glass back in the door, and replace the door panel, trim and handles. Now on to the rear screen...
The Rear Screen
For the rear screen, you will need to pre-cut the polymer window tinting film. This means you need to create a template to work from. Making a template is easy; just spray the outside of the rear screen with ordinary water and lay the plastic coated paper, with the plastic coated side on the glass. Then smooth out the paper and mark out the edge of the glass (where it meets the windscreen rubber). Now place your template on your working area and place the window tinting film over the template. Now cut the tinting film about a quarter inch bigger than the template. The excess film will be tucked under the windscreen rubber. Spraying a little water between the paper and the window tinting film will keep the window tint in place while you cut.
Now spray the inside of the rear screen with a little soap solution and carefully lay the window tinting film on the glass starting from the bottom of the glass and working your way carefully to the top. Remember to let the tinting film overlap the windscreen rubber by about a quarter inch. Now use the squeegee to press the excess water out from between the film and the glass as you did with the side windows. Once all the water is out wipe the water from the edge of the glass using the paper towels and use squeegee to tuck the excess polymer tinting film under the windscreen rubber. Now use the heat gun to shrink and smooth out any creases. Now all that's left to do is replace the third brake light and the rear deck and we're all done!
Cleaning tinted windows
Windows that have been tinted using window tinting film can be cleaned with a soft clean cloth and alcohol based cleaner or soap water. However, ammonia based cleaners should be avoided as ammonia will weaken the bond between the window tinting film and the car window.
If you need to remove your window tints, we've got that covered on our next page: removing window tinting.