Window Tinting 101

Most car windows come with at least a little bit of tinting. But, don’t be surprised if your teen wants darker window tint for their car.

Does this automatically mean your teen is up to something illegal? Probably not. Most likely, your teen wants tinted windows for aesthetic appeal. Duh, mom and dad, dark windows are cool.

Looking cool, however, isn’t the only benefit to tinted windows.

Benefits to window tinting

Window tint can reduce glare and heat. Less heat inside of your car means you won’t have to use the air conditioning quite as much. That could lead to some (minor) gas savings. Window tint also offers some protection from harmful UV rays. I’m sure we’ve all been stuck in traffic on a hot, sunny day feeling like we’re baking in the sun. Window tint helps alleviate this problem.

Also, darker tint can provide security for your belongings and privacy for passengers. Johnny Passersby won’t easily be able to see the iPod, CDs, and other valuables left lying on the seat. However, if your teen claims privacy as a reason for wanting window tint, you should probably ask why their passengers need so much privacy.

Disadvantages to window tinting

On the flip side, there are reasons to be hesitant about allowing your teen to get window tint. Visibility is decreased, especially at night. Just how much will depend on the shade and quality of the window tint. Extremely dark or “limo” tint will cause the greatest decrease.

Darker window tints will make functions that require using the back and rear windows, which are usually allowed to be darker, more difficult. Make sure your teen can still properly reverse and parallel park at night with the window tint.

Cops might feel uneasy when approaching a car with dark window tint. If they cannot see who or what is inside of the car, they will probably be even more concerned for their safety. Yes, some people stereotype a driver whose car has dark tint. Is there a gang member in there? Are they using drugs in the car? Is this a getaway car?

Legal issues

If your teen plans on having his or her windows tinted, check the laws for your state because they differ from state to state. Ordinances will indicate the legal Visible Light Transmission percentage (VLT%), which is the percentage of light that is transmitted through the glass and tint. The lower the percentage, the less light that is transmitted and thus the darker the tint. The legal VLT% varies between window location, so you need to get proper tint for the front side windows, back side windows, windshield, and rear window.

Remember, the car owner is responsible for ensuring the window tint complies with state laws. You should not rely on the body shop to know and follow the laws. Before going through with the window tinting service, review the current laws and what type of tint you will get with the body shop. It is also a good idea to see examples of their work.

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