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Window tint is an essential first mod for most cars. It's one of those rare things that everyone with a car will consider or need, and isn't just for enthusiasts. Tint does a few things, helping keep your car a bit more private, quite a lot cooler during hot summers, and can even be an appearance upgrade depending on your aesthetic preferences. But learning how to tint your windows isn't too difficult and can save you a bundle of cash.
Window tinting has been around for decades now and can seriously reduce the amount of light and heat that enters a vehicle. Many tint jobs involve darkening all windows except for the windshield, and many automakers offer a factory tint option for the rearmost windows. Adding window tint on your own is fairly easy, takes about two hours at most, and saves you a ton of money. You're in the right place to learn how to do it. Let's get after it.
Window Tinting Safety
Tinting windows at home is a low-risk activity, but there are a few opportunities to take a utility knife to the knuckles along the way. Be careful to cut while pushing the knife away from your body and avoid cutting quickly or haphazardly. Your window tint won’t be the only thing suffering if you slip up. Wearing protective gloves and safety glasses also isn't a bad way to safe yourself from nasty little mishaps.
Everything You'll Need to Tint Windows
For the rest of the things you'll need, you can find most around the house. A spray bottle is a must to lubricate the window with soapy water before applying tint, a hard-edged object like a squeegee that won't scratch the tint when squeezing the soapy water out, a utility knife or razor blade to cut it into shape, and a heat gun to help kill any bubbles or folds. And of course, you'll need the window tint film itself.
Here's How to Tint Windows
Step 1: Preparing Windows for Tint
Find a clean and dry place to work. Remove any stickers or other adhesives from the glass. Clean the windows thoroughly using an automotive window cleaner, and be sure to roll the window down slightly to clean all the way around the edges. Use a clean towel to dry the window. Wipe against the edges and seals of the window to get as much moisture off as possible. Roll the window back up and dry any residual moisture. Then apply the soapy water mixture to the windows with the spray bottle.
Step 2: Preparing the Tint
Roll the tint with the protective backing out over the wet window and be sure to leave 2-3 inches of extra tint hanging around all of the edges. Spray the outside of the tint with water so that there’s a thin layer across the entire surface, then use your preferred sharp knife to cut around the bottom and left edges of the window. Try to cut as cleanly as possible and get as close to the edge as you can. Move the tint around on the window to make sure it's fitting correctly, then take a moment to clean up any rough edges or odd shapes that have emerged during this process.
Step 3: Applying the Tint
Spray the inside of the glass with soapy water, then remove the cut tint from the outside of the glass while being careful not to damage it. Peel the protective liner from the tint in stages to expose the adhesive on the tint, making sure to spray soapy water on the adhesive before applying it to the window. Once you remove the protective liner, line up the tint with the window by tucking it just below the bottom seal, then squeegee the soapy water out of it while being careful not to move the tint. Use your squeegee to push bubbles out of the tint. Repeat squeegeeing with soapy water to ensure no bubbles remain and repeat for all windows. Then you're done.
Final Tips for How To Tint Your Windows
The Drive’s staff has tinted windows and lived to tell the tale. Our time discussing the finer points of the visible light with local law enforcement has given us some insights into window tint that we’d like to pass along.
- You’ll be spraying water at several points during this process. Tinting windows will be much easier if you have a pre-mixed soapy water solution ready to go in a spray bottle. You can’t have too much.
- It’s easier to cut away extra material than it is to start over if you cut a sheet of tint too small. Be cautious to leave enough tint to work with and cut away as needed.
- Do you live in an extremely windy, dusty area (looking at you, Southern California)? Try to do the work indoors, if at all possible. This will help prevent sand, dust, and debris from getting under the tint.
- Check your local laws before installing tint to avoid tickets and wasted time or money.