The Garage Maintenance & Repair

So How Much Does Window Tinting Actually Cost?

For privacy and protection, tint is the answer.

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There was a time when tinting car windows was seen as something only used by people who were up to no good. Why would anyone want to hide inside their cars? You can almost hear the pearl-clutching from here, decades in the future. Through time, though, those attitudes have softened, even more so now that people recognize tinting’s ability to protect car interiors from the sun’s damaging rays.

Window tint helps block those rays, but it does also provide increased privacy to the people inside the vehicle. There are more cars on the road today than ever, which means more prying eyes, so a little added privacy isn’t a bad thing at all.

The Drive’s editors don’t know the first thing about needing to hide inside a car, but we do know the ins and outs of tinting windows. We’ve even had a run-in or two with an unhappy member of local law enforcement who noticed our tinted windows were darker than legally allowed. That’s why we’re here to help you understand how much it can cost to tint your windows and to help you get started on tinting your windows the right way.

Let’s get rolling.

The pros can have your windows tinted right in no time.
The pros can have your windows tinted right in no time., Depositphotos

What Exactly Is Window Tint? 

Window tint is a film or coating that is applied to the glass surfaces of a vehicle to block some of the sun’s rays from entering the vehicle. Tints can be installed at home or by a professional and come in different types, depending on the application. Tints can also be ordered with different levels of darkness, which may or may not be legal everywhere. 

How Much Does Window Tinting Cost?

The costs of tinting car windows can vary greatly, depending on the type of tint and on the size of the windows being treated. It’s also important to remember that darker tints usually cost more than lighter tint jobs. Shops can also tint just one or a few windows on a vehicle, such as to provide privacy for back-seat passengers. 

In general, prices average from around $150 for a full tint job on a small car to upwards of $500-plus for a large vehicle like a van or SUV. If a special color tint or a special type of tint is requested, those prices can start to climb. Metallic and colored tints can cost upwards of $1,000 for larger vehicles.

If you’re thinking of tinting windows at home, you can do it for as little as $50 or so, but it can be a tedious process that really tests your patience and ability not to blurt out four-letter words.

Is Window Tint Illegal?

Window tint itself is not illegal, but different states and municipalities have different rules for how dark it can be. There may also be regulations against colored or metallic tints, as they can obstruct the driver’s vision or be distracting to other drivers. Check your local laws before applying any tint.

Okay, I Want To Learn How To Tint My Windows

Great! The ambition is admirable. Learn everything you need to know about DIY tinting with our guide, How To Tint Windows.

What If I Change My Mind And Want To Remove My Window Tint?

Have you ever removed a bumper sticker? It’s kind of a similar process. Learn everything you need to know in our guide, How To Remove Window Tint.

You get what you pay for, so don't cheap out too hard.
You get what you pay for, so don’t cheap out too hard., Depositphotos

Window Tinting Terms To Know

Get schooled.

Ultraviolet Light 

Ultraviolet light, or UV light, is an invisible type of light that can be generated by many things, including the sun. Window tint helps block some of the UV light rays, which can help cool a vehicle and protect its interior from damaging light rays.


A squeegee, when it comes to window tint, is a tool to help adhere the film to the glass. It’s used to press or push air bubbles from underneath the tint for the best result possible.

Privacy Glass

Privacy glass is different from window tint, in that it’s not a film. It’s a darkening process that occurs at the factory, where the glass is dipped and receives pigment on the inside.

Ceramic Tint

Ceramic tint is the cream of the crop. It’s able to block nearly all UVA and UVB rays and more than 90 percent of infrared rays. It’s stronger and more adhesive than standard tint film and actually reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them.

FAQs About Window Tint

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q: My Tint Is Hazy. Why?

A: Window tint is applied using a liquid that sometimes needs a little time to evaporate. As it’s doing so, there may be a slightly hazy appearance to the window, but it should clear up after a few days or a week. If that’s not it, the surface underneath the tint might be dirty or contaminated.

Q: Will Window Tint Prevent My Glass From Breaking?

A: Window tint film is not intended to perform safety functions. It won’t stop glass from breaking but may help hold the glass together after it’s broken, which can prevent tiny shards of glass from flying everywhere inside.

Q: There’s a Tear In My Window Tint. Can It Be Repaired?

A: If there’s damage to the tint film, it can’t be repaired. The only way around it is to remove the remaining tint and have the window re-tinted.

Q: I Just Had My Windows Tinted. What Do I Need To Know?

A: You will need to consult with your tint shop to find out if there are any special precautions to be taken with your particular type of window tint. In general, you may have to wait a day or two before rolling down the window and may need to avoid areas with extreme temperatures or weather.

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Chris Teague


After working in the technology and software industry for several years, Chris Teague began writing as a way to help people outside of that world understand the sometimes very technical work that goes on behind the scenes. With a lifelong love of all things automotive, he turned his attention to writing new vehicle reviews, detailing industry trends, and breaking news. Along the way, he earned an MBA with a focus on data analysis that has helped him gain a strong understanding of why the auto industry’s biggest companies make the decisions they do.