Best Window Tints: Block the Sun & Make Your Car More Stylish
The best automotive window tints for privacy and to keep the heat away
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON April 18, 2019
Whether it's to upgrade your vehicle's look or block light on hot days, the best window tint can completely transform your car or truck. Auto tints are applied to the glass surfaces of your vehicle, such as the windshield, rear glass, and side windows. The best auto tint has several advantages that will make driving not only more comfortable but also safer.
- Best OverallLEXEN 2Ply Premium Carbon 20" X 100FT Roll Window Tint FilmSummarySummaryThis tint is scratch-resistant, blocks 99 percent of UV rays, and doesn't interfere with radio signals. It offers heat rejection and color stability and is available in five shades.ProsProsThe film is of high quality and easy to cut, heat shrink, and manipulate to fit the glass. It produces a super clean look, and there is no hazing of any kind.ConsConsIt may be hard to work with and install. It also creases very easily, and it will peel or start to bubble if you don't thoroughly clean your glass before application.
- Best ValueProtint Windows 5-Percent Shade Color 24 Inches by 10 Feet Window Tint Film RollSummarySummary
This window tint provides good heat reduction and has a 99-percent anti-UV rate. You can choose a shade of up to 50 percent.ProsProsThis product is good quality, maintains its dark color, and is resistant to fading after years of use. It adheres very strongly to glass surfaces and blocks out the heat.ConsConsThe tint may wrinkle or crease during shipping. Beginners may have trouble with installation, and it can be particularly difficult to shrink it to fit on a curved window.
- Honorable MentionLEXEN Computer Pre-Cut Complete Tint Kit for All WindowsSummarySummary
This scratch-resistant tint blocks 99 percent of UV rays and is non-reflective. It includes five tint shades, and the company provides thousands of tint patterns for 1990-2018 vehicles.ProsProsThe pre-cut tint makes it easier to install than rolled tints. The tint is a nice color and is durable. Once applied, it provides crystal-clear visibility without blurring.ConsConsThe tint is very thin, creases easily, and may fade over time. You may also need to trim the pre-cut pieces to make them fit more accurately.
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Benefits of Window Tints
- Keep your car cooler. During the summer or in hot climates, the interior of your car can get very hot. The best auto tint will keep the interior cooler.
- Block UV rays. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can be very harmful to the human body. It can cause a number of health issues, such as skin cancer (melanoma), cataracts, and premature skin aging.
- Cut down glare. When you're driving, the sun can be very bright, which can cause eye fatigue. The best window film for cars is particularly useful if you're driving a long distance on a sunny day.
- Get more privacy. The best auto window tint will conceal items inside your vehicle, particularly things in the back seat. It's also more difficult to see people inside a car with a window tint.
- Reduce fuel consumption. Since window tints keep your vehicle's interior cooler, you're less likely to crank up the air conditioner. This reduces the amount of fuel you use, saving you money.
- Keep your interior from fading. The best-quality window tint will prevent the hot sun from penetrating the glass and fading your front and back seats, dashboard, and other interior areas.
- Boost glass protection. The best window tint film has an adhesive layer that may prevent the glass from shattering if it is struck in an impact. This can help protect you and your passengers.
Types of Window Tints
This type of tint includes a layer of dye between an adhesive layer and a polyester top coating. The tint appears flat and opaque from the outside and gives the driver and passenger good visibility. Dyed film is non-reflective, less expensive, and blocks glare. However, it provides the least amount of heat and UV protection. It can also deteriorate in high temperatures. Eventually, UV rays will turn the dye from black to a shade of purple.
Metallic or Metallized Film
Metallic tints have a metallic look and feature an adhesive layer, a layer that blocks UV rays, a metallic layer that reflects light, and a protective outer layer. This type of tint does not fade, is very durable, and is great at reducing heat and UV reduction. However, it can obstruct radio waves and other electronic signals, such as a cell phone signal, GPS, or TPMS.
Carbon tints block UV rays and interior fading. They reflect as much as 40 percent of infrared light with their dark, matte finish. They do not fade over time, and they help reduce overall fuel consumption because they cool your vehicle enough to reduce the amount of air conditioning you need.
The best ceramic tint features ceramic particles that are non-conductive. It performs very well and is the newest type of tint on the market. It blocks up to 99 percent of UV rays, reduces glare more than other types of tint, and does not fade. It keeps your vehicle at the desired temperature and does not interfere with electronic signals; however, it’s more expensive than other types of tint.
Several car manufacturers offer you the option of having a factory tint. Windows are permanently tinted via a process known as "deep dipping." While this darkens the glass, it is not the best car window tint for heat reduction or UV protection. Typically, factory-tinted windows have a VLT index of 15 to 26 percent. This can cool your car's interior but won't offer a lot of privacy or protect you completely from the sun.
SunTek is headquartered in Martinsville, Va., and is under the Eastman umbrella. The parent company has more than 60 years of experience in film production and technology. One top product is the Suntek Window Films Carbon.
MotoShield Pro is based in Commerce, Calif., and focuses on using nano-coating protection for your car inside and out with an easy-to-clean, ultra-smooth surface. One popular product is the MotoShield Pro PreCut Ceramic Tint Film.
3M began as a small-scale mining venture in Northern Minnesota over a century ago in 1902. The company operates in 70 countries and produces more than 60,000 products. One popular auto window tint is the 3M 1080 G12 Car Wrap Vinyl Film.
LEXEN is based in Catonsville, Md., and is a Formula One/LLumar-authorized window tint dealer. One of its top products is the LEXEN 2 Ply Premium Carbon Window Tint Film.
Gila Window Film is manufactured by CPFilms Inc., a subsidiary of Eastman Chemical Company in Martinsville, Va., which has over 60 years of experience in film production. One popular product is the Gila 550001807 Heat Shield 5-Percent VLT Automotive Window Tint.
Window Tint Pricing
- Under $25: There are several window tints on the market in this price range, but they sometimes cover just a couple of windows and not the whole car. A few may be applied with static cling instead of adhesive.
- $25-50: Some of the best window tints fall into this category. You can get a decent-quality product for this price, and they typically come in larger square footage.
- Over $50: Window tints can cost upwards of several hundred dollars. More expensive products tend to be more pliable and easier to use with curved surfaces. They also are more resistant to bubbling and peeling.
Pre-Cut Versus Rolled
Pre-cut films are cut precisely to match the dimensions of your windows. Conversely, you must cut rolled tints yourself to make a proper fit. Pre-cut films are typically more expensive compared to the DIY version. If you are proficient at measuring, consider a rolled tint to save some money.
The shade measures how much light can pass through a tint. The best types of window tint typically come in various shades of black and are rated by the percentage of visible light transmission (VLT) that enters the vehicle. Tints with a lower VLT percentage are darker, while tints with a higher VLT percentage are lighter. For example, a VLT with 50 percent means that 50 percent of the light will come into the vehicle. The best window tint percentage is up to you.
- UV Blocking Power: Each type of auto tint has a particular level of UV-blocking capability. For example, ceramic films are 99 percent effective, while dyed, carbon and metalized films don't provide as much protection. The higher the percentage of UV blocking power, the better it is for protecting your vehicle's interior from fading.
- Ease of Application: If you decide to apply a window tint yourself, it's important that you purchase a product that is easy to use. This is especially important if you've never done it before. That is why many car owners prefer to have a tinted window shop carry out the task.
- Durability: Another important factor is the longevity of a particular brand. You need to know how long the tint will last on your vehicle after it is exposed to a variety of elements, including the bright sun. The longer it lasts, the less expensive it will be for you.
- Heat Dispersion: In very hot weather, temperatures can rise quickly inside your vehicle, particularly if it is sitting for an extended period of time. The best car window tint for heat reduction will disperse heat instead of absorbing it. This will provide a cooler atmosphere inside the vehicle.
- Colors: The best types of window tint come in a variety of colors, including gray, amber, green, and blue. You can customize the look while simultaneously keeping cool and protected from harmful rays of sunlight. Colored tints, like their black tint counterpart, should also provide VLT, UV protection, and heat dispersion.
Best Window Tint Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: LEXEN 2 Ply Premium Carbon Window Tint Film
LEXEN's two-ply carbon automotive window film comes in standard black in a 20-inch by the 100-foot roll. It's scratch resistant, blocks 99 percent of UV rays, and does not interfere with radio signals. Carbon pigments provide superior heat rejection and color stability. The tint is available in the following shades: 5 percent (limo), 15 percent (dark), 35 percent (medium) and 50 percent (light).
The roll of film is easy to cut, heat shrink, and manipulate to fit any area of auto glass you choose. It produces a super clean look, and there is no hazing of any kind. Also, the tint is high-quality and provides a nice dark shade to keep the sun out.
If you're new to the tinting process, this product might be a bit hard to work with when first applying it. You may need professional assistance to apply it correctly. It also creases very easily, and it will peel or start to bubble if you don't thoroughly clean the glass before applying it.
This window tint provides good heat reduction and has a 99-percent anti-UV rate. You can choose a shade between 5 percent and 50 percent. In addition to tinting car windows, it can be used for other types of glass surfaces.
This product is good quality, maintains its dark color, and is resistant to fading after years of use. It adheres very strongly to glass surfaces, blocks out the heat, and keeps the sun out of your eyes. If you're experienced at this type of task, it is fairly easy to install as long as you keep the tint and the window very wet during the process.
One downside is the roll of tint may wrinkle or crease during the shipping process, making it challenging to apply smoothly on your windows. Beginners may also have a tough time installing it, and it can be particularly difficult to shrink it to fit on a curved window.
Honorable Mention: LEXEN Computer Pre-Cut Complete Tint Kit for All Windows
This scratch-resistant tint blocks 99 percent of UV rays and is non-reflective. It includes the following tint shades: 50 percent, 35 percent, 20 percent, 15 percent, and 5 percent. Carbon pigments provide superior heat rejection and color stability. LEXEN supplies thousands of tint patterns for 1990-2018 vehicles. The manufacturer recommends using a professional tint squeegee application tool kit, which can be purchased separately.
The pre-cut tint makes it easier to install than rolled tints. The kit is cut to fit your model vehicle and is much less expensive than a professional installer. The tint is a nice color and is durable. Once applied, it provides crystal clear visibility without blurring. Also, it's easy to take the tint off in case you don't like it or you want to redo it.
Some problems we noticed are the tint is very thin, creases easily, and may fade over time. You also may need to trim the pre-cut pieces to make them fit more accurately. Finally, you will need a heat gun to shrink the tint to fit curved windows. Shrinking the tint may be challenging, and if done incorrectly, will result in a "finger" effect on the glass.
- Ceramic tints are very advantageous because they provide the best protection. However, they tend to be more expensive, so other tints are good alternatives as long as they provide the protection you require.
- Think about why you want a window tint. If it's purely for aesthetic reasons, you can spend less money on brands that are not as geared towards blocking harmful UV rays.
- Installing a window tint yourself can be tricky. If done incorrectly, you can ruin the tint kit, or worse, damage the glass on your vehicle. Paying a professional may be worth the extra cost.
- To apply window tint yourself, put your vehicle in a well-shaded, dust-free area. Also, have the following products on hand: application solution, a squeegee, low-lint cloth, razor knife, and a plastic scrubby.
- It's crucial to thoroughly clean your windows before applying the tint application solution with a plastic scrubby. Also, completely dry the window with a squeegee.
- Clean your windows with a razor blade scraper, but be careful on factory-tinted windows because you could remove the coating. Do not use a razor blade to clean rear windows with defroster lines or antenna lines.
- Order more of the product than you think you’re going to need so you have an extra tint to work within the event that you make a mistake.
- To remove old window tint, use a fabric steamer to steam the window. Eventually, the adhesive will melt, and you will be able to peel the tint off.
Q: Are window tints illegal?
A: Every state has different laws about auto tints, which usually involve a product's VLT. Some states will charge or fine you if your window tint goes below a particular VLT value.
Q: How do I clean a tinted window?
A: Be extra careful when washing a vehicle with tinted windows. Do not use sharp objects or harshly scrub the windows. Avoid high-pressure water so the tint doesn't peel off at the edges. Also, use a soft cloth or sponge to prevent scratches and to maintain the gloss finish and UV rejection effectiveness.
Q: Why do some window tints turn purple?
A: Over time, the sun fades and ages window tint. UV rays and heat exposure eventually damage the tints, particularly the type that is dyed. Better, more expensive options such as metallic or ceramic tints will not turn purple.
Q: What causes some window tints to bubble?
A: If you improperly install a window tint, you may experience a bubbling effect. It's essential to remove the water and air bubbles between the glass and the film, otherwise, the sun can cause air bubbles to form. Eventually, those bubbles will crack, which can be unsightly.
Q: How long do window tints last?
A: A properly-installed window tint should last for many years, particularly if it's metallic or ceramic. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and choose a high-quality product.
Our top pick for the best window tint is the LEXEN 2 Ply Premium Carbon Window Tint Film. It’s high quality and easy to cut and heat shrink. It produces a super clean look, and there is no hazing of any kind.
A less costly alternative is the Protint Windows 5-Percent Shade Color Window Tint Film Roll.