Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 26, 2022

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At a Glance

  • Window tinting is a method of darkening the window glass for privacy and to prevent light or harmful radiation from coming through
  • You can apply tint at home by yourself using either window tint film or spray-on window tint (if you’re wondering how to tint car windows without film)
  • Before applying window tint, you should have a complete understanding of your state’s window tinting laws

While many newer cars come with some window tinting, some drivers may want to add more to improve the appearance of their vehicle or give added protection from light or privacy. There are a few ways to apply window tinting yourself, but make sure to do thorough research on the process first.

Check with your state’s DMV before tinting to ensure you don’t tint your windows too much (or risk paying fines or having your auto insurance canceled). Read more about how to tint car windows below.

Enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool above to find affordable auto insurance for cars with tinted windows.

What is window tinting?

What is tinting? Window tinting is a method of darkening the window glass. Tinting windows reduces the visible light transference (VLT), the amount of visible light that shines through your window. The higher the VLT, the more light that will shine through.

Many newer cars come with some degree of tinting from the factory. However, aftermarket tinting is also available if you’re wondering how to tint car windows yourself. In addition, window tint film and spray-on tint are available to darken your windows at home.

Before you tint your windows, you should do some research to ensure that you are following your state’s laws on window tint. Each state will have varying regulations, so you can typically contact your DMV to determine how much window tint is allowed.

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What are the different types of window tinting?

There are several types of window tinting that have different purposes.

For example, dyed tint is generally used for privacy only. However, a metalized tint has small metal particles that reflect heat and UV radiation. In addition, a hybrid tint will combine the features of a dyed and metalized tint.

Higher-end tints include carbon tint and ceramic tint. A carbon tint has micro-layers of polymer and carbon that reduce the UV and IR levels. Finally, a ceramic tint is the best quality, and it is designed to reflect large amounts of heat and still provide high levels of clarity.

How do I apply window tint film?

If you’re wondering how to apply window tint, we’ve outlined some of the basic steps below.

1. Clean your vehicle.

You don’t want your windows to get dusty while applying a window tint film. Therefore, you should clean out your vehicle with a vacuum. You also need to remove adhesives or stickers already on your windows.

Use a mild soap mixed with a gallon of warm water to clean your windows. Make sure to roll your window up and down as needed to get every part. Clean both sides of your windows. Use a squeegee or a lint-free cloth to dry the windows. Wrap the fabric around your finger and run it under the window seals to remove any dirt or debris hiding underneath.

2. Cut out the window tint film.

If you’re using a roll of window tint instead of a pre-cut film, you will need to cut it out to match the shape and size of your windows. Start by pulling one end of the roll out a little bit to find the sticky side. Then, apply a little bit more soapy water to your window.

Stick the film to the wet window with the liner facing you. The water allows you to stick and position the film where you need it, ensuring that it extends at least two inches out on each side of the window. Use a utility knife to start cutting the film on one side. If you cut too much off one side, you can carefully slide it back to the edge. Make sure to roll down the window when you need to do the top edge.

3. Apply the film to the window.

After you’ve finished cutting the film, remove the liner from the film. Spray some of the film application solution onto the sticky edge of the film and apply the film to the inside of your window. Use a scraper blade to flatten the film in the correct position.

Use the squeegee or another flat object to remove air bubbles. You can also use a heat gun, but be careful not to overheat the film. Finally, park your car somewhere with a temperature between 40°F and 98°F and allow the window tint to cure.

Here are a few more tips on how to install window tint using a film: Try starting on a small, flat window if this is your first time applying window tint film. Try to minimize the likelihood that dust or dirt will get under the film. Make sure that you work as slowly as needed. If you need help from a friend or family member, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.

How do I apply spray-on window tint?

Below are the steps to walk you through how to tint windows with spray tint.

1. Clean your windows and warm up the tint.

Mix some mild soap with a gallon of warm water. Then, clean your windows and make sure to remove any adhesive or stickers.

Put the can of spray tint into a bucket of hot water to warm it up.

2. Protect your car from the spray tint.

Use painter’s tape and newspaper to protect your car from being sprayed with window tint. First, extend the newspaper at least 24 inches out from the windows on all sides. Then, use a razor to cut the tape around the window edge to create a clean line.

3. Apply the spray-on window tint.

Holding the spray can about 12 inches away from the window, spray a thin coat of tint onto the window in a back and forth motion. Allow the first coat to dry for 20 minutes before applying a second coat in the same way. Allow the tint to dry for 20 minutes in between each coat.

When applying any kind of window tint, make sure that you are not exceeding the allowed amount in your state. Otherwise, you could face fines for illegal window tint. In some cases, you may even risk having your auto insurance canceled.

If you need auto insurance for a car with tinted windows, enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool below.

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