Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach

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: Jun 22, 2022

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Window tinting your car can cost a small fortune, but it adds such a nice touch to your vehicle as well as gives you nice shade during the summer. That’s why it pays off to know how to tint car windows.

Not only does it cost money to get your windows tinted, but adding new components to your car can raise your car insurance rates. So is there a way to tint car windows for cheap? The simple answer is yes. In this article, we’ll go over what window options you may have to tint car windows cheaply.

If you are getting a regular tint job with standard window film (tint) you can expect to pay hundreds of dollars ranging from $100 to $550 depending on the vehicle.

Benefits of Window Tinting Your Car Windows

Window tinting is a fantastic way to increase privacy and reduce heat and sunlight exposure damage in cars. So, before we get started, you may be interested in the benefits of having tinted car windows has to offer.

  • Tinted windows will block 70% to 90% of harmful UV radiation.
  • Window tint can reduce the interior heat by 35% to 55%.
  • Protects the interior dash and upholstery from fading.
  • Reduces glare, eye strain, & increases privacy.
  • Additional protection by holding shattered glass in place.

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Best Window Tint Film for Tinting Your Own Windows

When deciding to tint your windows, you may benefit from being aware of the types of window tints. There are a variety of types of window film that come from different manufacturers. The type of tint you may prefer can differ in benefits and costs.

There are 5 different types of window tint:

  • Dyed Tint
  • Metalized Tint
  • Hybrid Tint
  • Carbon Tint
  • Ceramic Tint

TintTypeBenefitsCost
Motoshield Pro Nano CeramicCeramicVisible light transmittance: 35% glare reduction: 55% shading coefficient: .53$150.00+
LEXEN comput​er Pre-Cut Complete KitDyedModel specific kit: Specify the Year, Make, Model, Body Type of vehicle.
Shades of 50%, 35%, 15%, 5%(Limo) tints
$30.00+
SolarKing Nano CeramicCeramic90% IR (infra-red rejection); 48% solar energy rejection; anti-glare

High visibility, great throughput of visible light.

Fully enable wireless signals throughput, including GPS, cell phone, FM signals.
$35.00+
3M Automotive Window FilmsAcrylic & othersDurable, meant to last, and require very little maintenance.$30.00+
LLumar Automotive Window FilmsMetallized, Ceramic, & DyedLargest producer of window tint films. Some types of film have lifetime warranty.$50.00+
SunTekCeramic, Carbon, & MetallizedTechnology meant to enhance the efficiency of their films.
High end to budget line products.
$50.00+
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Depending on the type of window tint you choose, these steps can range from complicated to simple. Nonetheless, you completing a window tint job on your own is quite doable.

First, you are going to need a few materials at hand before you begin.

Make sure you have a window cleaner, certified roll of window tint film, a spray bottle of hot water, small hand squeegee, tape measure, application solution, and flat edge razor.

Once you have all these items you can begin.

How to Tint Car Windows Step 1: Clean & Clean Some More

This first step is very important so make sure you do it right.

You don’t want to cut any corners when it comes to cleaning the glass.

Note: Preparation and window cleaning before applying the film is very important. Try to keep the vehicle in a garage and keep all dust off the windows. You probably couldn’t overdo this step. In fact, take your time and clean and clean again just to be sure.

If there is any dirt or dust left on your window when you begin then you could make your tint look very bad and bumpy.

Make sure you use soap and water or a specified glass cleaner.

Do this several times, at least 3 or more.

If you can, do your tinting in a garage to protect from dirt and dust settling on your windows.

How to Tint Car Windows Step 2: Measure Twice Cut Once

Before you buy your tint use your measuring tape to measure the surfaces that you will be tinting.

You want to make sure you purchase the right amount.

Note: When you buy window tint or film it is going to come in a roll. The rolls come in a variety of sizes and lengths. The one illustrated above is 24 in x 10 ft. You may need more or less. Measure your windows so you purchase the correct amount. And buy a little extra if you can just in case.

Make sure you have enough for your front and rear windows, while allowing an extra 2 inches than you measured for each window.

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How to Tint Your Own Windows Step 3: Cut

Now you can cut the tint into the sizes that you measured for each individual window.

Note: Before you cut your film to place on the window you want to be sure there is at least 2 inches around each end of the window. There are “pre-cut” films based on the car manufacturer, such as Lexen, however, I wouldn’t buy that type. It sounds like it would be easier to install, but I have experienced just the opposite.

Lay the sheets of tint over each window to ensure you have cut a piece of film that is at least two inches longer than needed on each end.

You can cut the excess off as you install the window tint.

How to Tint Car Windows Step 4: Install

Next, you will want to spray the application solution onto the glass and remove the adhesive backing of the film.

Make sure the sticky part is facing the window.

Do not place the whole film on the window. This can cause bubbling.

Beginning at the bottom of the window, attach the sticky portion and smooth it out as you move upward. Cut off the excess edges with the razor.

How to Tint Your Windows Step 5: Smooth it Out

Take your hand squeegee and smooth out any bubbles and/or creases.

Note: Use a hard plastic squeegee to smooth out the film to move the air bubbles towards the edges. If you want to make the film more pliable, you can use a heat gun for tinting windows. The heat gun is not necessary, but will make the tint look smoother. If you decide to use a heat gun window tint application, apply it to the outside so you don’t melt the film.

Use your spray bottle full of hot water to spray on the glass to make it easier for your squeegee to smooth it out.

Cut off any extra film tint and wipe away any excess water with a towel.

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How to Tint Windows: Extra Tips

The window tint you bought should have cleaning instructions on how to clean your windows, but as a general rule of thumb don’t use any harsh window cleaners as it could fade your tint.

Also, refrain from rolling your windows up or down for at least 3 days.

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