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How Much Can You Tint Vehicle Windows Legally?

When it comes to tinted windows, there’s a fine line between what’s legal and what’s not. If you’re not careful, you could errantly find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

Not only can the fines be costly, but you don’t want to deal with the hassle. So how much can you legally tint vehicle windows?

Let’s take a look and see!

What Is Window Tint?

Window tint is a thin sheet of film applied to a window to protect the interior from the sun. The most common application is on passenger vehicles. However, it’s also on windows for businesses. While protecting the vehicle’s interior from extended sun exposure, it keeps the vehicle cooler and makes it easier for the driver to see.

The darker it is, the more effectively it prevents light from getting through a window. However, darker window tints can present some safety concerns, which is why there’s a legal limit on how dark they can be on a vehicle.

Does Window Tint Keep Your Car Cooler?

It stops the ultraviolet and infrared light. By blocking the rays from the sun, it naturally will keep your vehicle cooler. While some drivers increase window tint for privacy, the primary reason most drivers install it is to help keep the interior of their vehicle cooler.

If you’ve ever climbed into a vehicle on a hot summer day, you’ll quickly appreciate it.

What’s the Darkest You Can Tint Your Windows Legally? 

There is no federal law when it comes to tinting your windows. Much like speed limits, the laws depend on the state. As a result, you must verify the laws where you live and register your vehicles. The legal limit depends on the visible light transmission percent (VLT%).

The legal limits not only vary based on the states but also the specific windows in a vehicle. Some states, like Michigan, are more accommodating than others. Front side windows, rear side windows, the rear window, and the windshield typically have varying legal limits.

If you’re buying a new car, it’s typically not a problem. However, if you’re buying a used car from another state or putting tint on your windows, you’ll want to make sure you’re not going to have any legal issues.

Law enforcement officers are good at recognizing what’s legal and what isn’t for window tint. Most carry devices that measure the VLT% if they suspect your windows are too dark. If you’re getting your windows tinted by a professional, they’ll typically provide you with the information regarding the specific tinting to show law enforcement if there’s any debate.

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What Is the Best Tint Percentage?

The best tint percentage will depend on what your goals are for your window tint. If you want to reduce your vehicle’s UV rays and heat, a 50% tint percentage will do the trick. It blocks enough UV rays and heat and reduces the amount of glare and eye strain on the driver and passengers looking out the windows.

However, a 35% tint may be the best if you want a sleek look.

How Long Does It Take to Tint Windows?

How long it will take to tint your windows will depend on your vehicle. The more windows you have, the longer it’s going to take. If the technician needs to remove any old film, it could add a considerable amount of time to the project.

Doing an entire vehicle will take anywhere from two to four hours. If you’re worried about how long it will take, ask the installer ahead of time or drop your vehicle off, and they’ll call you when it’s ready.

Can I Wash My Car After Tint?

Window tint gets applied to the interior of a window. This means that it will not affect your ability to wash your vehicle. However, you’ll want to make sure you give it time to cure to the window before cleaning the interior. You’ll typically need to wait at least 72 hours before cleaning the windows.

When in doubt, ask your installer how long you should wait and what chemicals are safe to use on the specific window tint they installed on your vehicle.

How Long Do I Leave My Windows Up After Tinting?

You should leave your windows up for at least 24 hours after tinting them. However, some manufacturers and installers recommend leaving your windows up for at least two to four days to ensure the tinting properly and evenly cures to your window.

Make sure you ask your installer what they recommend for the tint they installed on your windows. You may risk voiding a warranty if you roll the windows down before they have enough time to cure to your window.

Do Tints Get Darker When They Dry?

The film will appear to get darker in the days and weeks after installing window tint on your vehicle. The film itself isn’t darkening as much as the adhesive dries and adheres to the window. Once it dries to the window, the window tint will settle and be a more consistent color.

However, the more your windows get exposed to the sun, the more the tint will experience bleaching from the sun. This will cause them to lighten over time and potentially need an update years later.

Are Tinted Windows Worth It?

It’s a great way to improve the look and comfort of your vehicle. However, an installation from a DIY kit isn’t always worth it. There’s a major difference between clean and professional-looking and DIY. If you’ve seen a vehicle with bubbles in the window tinting, it’s likely a DIY install.

You want your tinted windows to enhance your vehicle’s look and comfort, not detract from it. So spend a few extra bucks and let the professionals do what they know how to do.

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