Tinting your car windows is an easy and relatively inexpensive mod you can make to your vehicle that comes with a surprising amount of benefits. Not only does tinting protect your privacy, reduce glare, and look super cool, but it’s also good for your health and well-being.
We’re serious - different tints block different levels of UV light, and in the long run can prevent sun damage to your skin and eyes. There are many good reasons to consider a tint. But as with any mod, you must ask the question: how much does it cost to tint car windows? We’re going to answer that question as best we can in the following article.
Think Before You Tint
Before you go rushing off to buy the darkest shade you can possibly find for your windows, you have to know the rules. Different states have different laws which specify limits around how dark your window tinting should be. And going over this limit can be a big expense in and of itself.
For example, the state of Oregon requires that window tints on sedans allow no less than 35% of light in. Windshields on all types of vehicles must be tint-free, except for the top 6 inches of the glass. Tinting for SUVS and vans is a little bit more relaxed: front windows have to adhere to the 35% rule, but back side and rear windows can be as dark as you like.
Oregon also puts parameters on the reflectivity of your windows. On all kinds of vehicles, tints can be “no more than 13% reflective.” If you are caught with a window tint that is too dark or too reflective, you can be fined up to $360 by the state.
Tinting parameters vary depending on where you are in the US. To learn more about the tinting laws in your home state, visit tinting-laws.com.
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How Much Does It Cost to Tint Car Windows: The Short Answer
Tinting your entire car costs between 50 and 800 dollars, depending on the size of your vehicle and quality of your tinting material. There are 5 main types of tinting material you can choose from, including dyed, metalized, hybrid, carbon, and ceramic.
Dyed tinting material is made of layers of pigmented film. This is the cheapest material you can find, as well as the easiest to install yourself.
Metalized tinting material is pigmented through the inclusion of metal particles in the film. It’s much more durable and long-lasting than its dyed counterpart. The downside is that metalized tinting film can interfere with the function of your devices.
Hybrid tinting material is a combination of both dyed and metalized tint film. It’s on the pricier side, but offers greater protection for you and your interior.
Carbon tinting material offers the protection of all lower-grade films, and many car owners prefer it for it’s “matte black” finish. The one con is it’s cost: a 25 foot roll purchased online can cost 182 dollars.
Ceramic tinting material is by far the most expensive option on the market, but it is also the most durable. It doesn’t fade, it doesn’t obstruct your sight, and it blocks twice as much heat as lower-quality materials. The only other detriment (besides the cost) is it can be seen through more easily, and doesn’t offer as much privacy.
Of course, going with the less expensive option may sound good in the moment. But as any professional will tell you, the cheap method can have hidden costs which emerge later on down the road, as you will find yourself replacing your cheap tinting more often than if you were to go with the high-quality stuff.
Have you ever come across a tinted window full of bubbles? That car owner went with the low-quality tinting option, and now they’re really paying for it.
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How Much Does It Cost to Tint Car Windows Yourself?
If you’re the crafty do-it-yourself type, or if you have prior experience scraping sticky plastic over smooth surfaces, you can save a lot of money by doing your window tinting yourself. The main difference in cost is that you will only be paying for materials, and not the cost of labor.
First, you will need to clean and remove any grime or sticky residue from the inside of your window. For this you will need soapy water and a 1-inch razor blade for scraping.
Next, you will need to thoroughly dry the window with either a paper towel or microfiber rag - something that won’t leave behind a lot of lint or debris.
Then, you will spray the outside of your window with soapy water to make it slippery while you get the tinting material into position. Pros use a pressurized spray bottle to do this step.
Now it’s time to apply your tint material! You will need to unroll it along your window and press it in until it sticks. Make sure not to cut it until you have a workable piece on your window. You can use a precision knife or razor to cut the film.
While the film is applied to the outside of your window, spray it again with the soapy water and smooth it out as best you can. Then, use your knife to cut “trace” the window and cut out the precise shape of your tint.
Now you will use a heat gun and “hard card” to scrape out any bubbles and make the film conform to the exact shape of your window. You can peel it off, or let it hang there while you clean the interior window.
Next, spray the film with clean water to keep it pliable and easy to work with. Now you can expose the adhesive of the film and (very carefully!) apply it to the interior of the window. Smooth out the edges with a metal file for a professional-looking finish.
The total cost of materials will be between 137 and 280 dollars. It’s a lot of work, but a steal compared to going to a professional.
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How Much Does It Cost to Tint Car Windows with a Professional?
Labor and quality of material are the big drivers of cost with professional tinting services. The size of your vehicle and number of windows you need tinted will determine how much work your tinting professional needs to put into your vehicle.
If you need them to remove old tint film, this will take extra time as well. A 5-window sedan will cost a minimum of 100 to 200 dollars if you go for dyed film. A larger or specialty vehicle with ceramic tinting can have you out as much as 850 dollars.
You might be fanning yourself at the numbers, but window tinting is a tricky thing to do, and you’re sure to get the best results by going to a pro. Sure it costs more than doing it yourself, but you pay for the peace of mind of knowing your tint job will be clean and long-lasting.
If you decide to go this route, you can get your windows tinted at your favorite body shop. Another option is to find window repair or tinting specialists near you and see what they offer. There are even mobile window tinting services that will come to you! Tinting specialists usually charge a higher fee, but it’s what they do, so it will more than likely be worth it.
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