Reviews | The Drive

Best Window Tint: Stay Cool and Protect Your Car’s Interior

The right window tint cools your car down and gives it a stylistic upgrade.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on all things automotive.

youtubefacebookinstagram

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BYRobert Bacon/ LAST UPDATED ON June 30, 2022

Some people think of tinted windows as an aesthetic upgrade, and they are. But many folks don’t know about the added benefits, which stretch beyond just looking good. For starters, many tinted windows protect your vehicle’s interior from UV rays, which damage it over time. And depending on the type of tint you get, you can reduce the temperature in your car by up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning you burn less fuel using your AC system. When you consider the cost of gas today, can you afford not to tint your windows?

Best Overall

MotoShield Pro Premium Ceramic Window Tint

Summary
A ceramic window tint with some of the best heat and UV protection properties on the market.
Pros
  • Blocks 99 of UV rays
  • Reduces heat by up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Ceramic
  • Blocks up to 99% of infrared heat
  • Wide VLT range
Cons
  • Pricey
Best Value

Gila Heat Shield

Summary
This window tint is good value for money and will reduce glare. But, since this is a dyed film, it will eventually fade.
Pros
  • Good value for money
  • Reduces glare
  • Three shade options
  • Scratch-resistant
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer much UV or heat protection
  • Color will fade
Honorable Mention

Lexen 2-Ply Premium Carbon Window Tint

Summary
This product shares most of the same features as the best overall pick, apart from the infrared heat protection. But it cost much less than my top pick.
Pros
  • Blocks 99% of UV rays
  • Reduces heat
  • Won’t fade
  • Won’t block radio signals
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer the best heat protection
Best Window Tint: Stay Cool and Protect Your Car’s Interior

Summary List 

Best Budget: Gila Heat Shield

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Our Methodology

To choose the best window tints on the market, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of window tints before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and my institutional knowledge of the automotive industry.

Best Window Tint Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Make: Motoshield Pro
  • Model: Premium Ceramic Window Tint
  • VLT Range: 5 - 75%

Pros

  • Blocks 99% of UV rays
  • Reduces heat by up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Ceramic
  • Blocks up to 99% of infrared heat
  • Wide VLT range

Cons

  • Pricey

The MotoShield Pro Premium Ceramic Window Tint takes the best overall award, thanks to its high-quality materials. This film isn’t inexpensive, but when you consider the quality of its construction, it’s fair to say it’s good value for money. The nano-ceramic window tint is 2 mm thick and comes in a 20-inch x 10-foot roll, meaning you’ll have to cut it if you want to apply it yourself. The ceramic film blocks 99% of UV rays and up to 99% of infrared heat. It can reduce your vehicle’s interior temperature by up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. So this is a great option for anyone who wants to keep their car protected and cool.

This tint comes in seven shades ranging from 5% to 75%. Since this film is ceramic, you don’t need to worry about it turning purple over time, and it won’t block signals to your cell phone or GPS unit. There’s a wide range of sizes available, meaning you don't need to buy more than you require. There are less expensive options on the market, but most of them won’t be ceramic.

Specs

  • Make: Gila
  • Model: Heat Shield
  • VLT Range: 5 - 35%

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Reduces glare
  • Three shade options
  • Scratch resistant

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer much UV or heat protection
  • Color will fade

The Gila Heat Shield is the perfect option for anyone who wants to tint their window but is working off a tight budget. This film is made with dye technology, which reduces glare but unfortunately tends to fade and turn purple over time. You have three tint options to choose from: 5%, 20%, and 35%. The Heat Shield will offer you some heat protection but won’t provide as much UV protection as other models on this list.

This model comes in 2 x 6.5 feet strips and includes an application kit, which is impressive considering its low price. The deep-dye technology used in this film is scratch-resistant. Although it’ll fade eventually, it should look good for thousands of miles.

Specs

  • Make: Lexen
  • Model: 2Ply Premium Carbon
  • VLT Range: 5 - 50%

Pros

  • Blocks 99% of UV rays
  • Reduces heat
  • Won’t fade
  • Won’t block radio signals

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer the best heat protection

The Lexen 2-Ply Premium Carbon Window Tint offers almost as much protection as my best overall pick, but for a much lower price. The 2-ply 1.5 mm carbon film comes in a 20-inch x 100-foot roll, giving you plenty to work with. It’s scratch resistant and blocks out 99% of UV rays. Like ceramic film, this carbon model doesn’t interfere with radio signals, so your cell phone and GPS will work perfectly.

This film uses particle technology containing carbon pigments, which work to reject heat and keep the vehicle’s interior cool. Unlike dye technology, carbon particles maintain color stability indefinitely. This tint comes in five shades: 5%, 15%, 20%, 35%, and 50%. For some people, the fact that this carbon window tint shares many of the same qualities as ceramic window tint for a fraction of the price makes this option a no-brainer. Just be aware that it won’t reduce heat as much as a ceramic window tint.

Specs

  • Make: True Line Automotive
  • Model: Pre-Cut Window Tint Kit
  • VLT Range: 5 - 50%

Pros

  • Pre-cut
  • Wide variety of kit options
  • Four shade options

Cons

  • Pricey

If you don’t want to cut your window tint film from a roll, choose the Computer Customized Pre-Cut Window Tint. You enter the type of kit you want along with the make, model, and year of your vehicle, and you’ll receive pre-cut window tint film for each window. There are other kit options that exclude various windows, so you don’t pay for more than you need. For example, if you don’t want your windshield tinted or only want your rear window tinted, you can choose that kit.

The tint shade options are 5%, 20%, 35%, and 50%, so not as high as other models on this list, but still a decent variety. The downside to this product is it’s a bit pricier than other options, but at least you can rest assured that you’ll have a perfect fit.

Specs

  • Make: Lexen
  • Model: 2Ply Carbon All Windows PreCut Tint Kit
  • VLT Range: 5 - 50%

Pros

  • Carbon
  • Pre-cut
  • Five shade options
  • Blocks 99% of UV rays
  • Won’t block radio signals

Cons

  • Kit doesn’t include front windshield

If you want a carbon window tint but need it to be pre-cut, check out the Lexen 2-Ply Carbon Pre-Cut Tint Kit. This kit fits thousands of window patterns on vehicles made between 2000 to 2022. The 2-ply 1.5-mm carbon tint blocks 99% of UV rays and comes in five shade options: 5%, 15%, 20%, 35%, and 50%. When buying the kit, you’ll need to specify the year, make, model, and body type of your vehicle, along with the tint shade you want.

The film has a scratch-resistant coating and sticks to your windows via a high-quality adhesive. The kit will have perfectly cut pieces of film for your vehicle's windows, but unfortunately it’s not possible to get pre-cut film for your windshield or sunroof. Since this is a carbon film, it’ll provide good protection against heat and won’t fade. You also won’t need to worry about this tint blocking radio signals.

Our Verdict

The MotoShield Pro Premium Ceramic Window Tint blocks 99% of UV rays and can reduce the temperature inside your vehicle by up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. It doesn't fade, and you won’t have to worry about it blocking radio signals. If you’re on a tight budget, check out my value pick, the Gila Heat Shield.

Things to Consider Before Buying Window Tint

Material

The quality of your window tint largely depends on the material that it’s made from. These are the main types of film to choose from: dyed, metallic or metalized, carbon, and ceramic. Dyed film is a good value option but provides the least amount of heat and UV protection and will eventually fade to purple. The metallic or metalized film is good at protecting against heat and UV rays, and it doesn’t fade over time. The issue with metallic film is that it can block radio waves, so will reduce the strength of your cell phone and GPS unit’s signal.

Carbon film is one of the best options as it blocks UV rays and up to 40% of infrared light. This film doesn’t fade and will reduce your vehicle’s interior temperature. Ceramic film is the newest and best form of tinted window film but also the priciest. It blocks up to 99% of UV rays and reduces glare more than any other type of film. Ceramic film also has the best heat reduction properties and can cool the interior of your vehicle by up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Shade

The visible light transmission (VLT) is the measurement of how much light can pass through a tinted window. For example, a VLT of 50% means that 50% of the light outside your vehicle can pass through the tint. The lower the percentage, the less light passes through the windows. The percentage you choose is up to you, but be aware that you will be fined in some states if your window tint goes below a certain VLT value.

Pre-Cut or Rolled

Deciding whether to get pre-cut or rolled window tint film will be a major decision for anyone who’s applying it themselves. If you want to get pre-cut film, you’ll need to tell the manufacturer your vehicle’s make, model, and year of production. Pre-cut window tints make applying the film to your windows much easier and might be the best option for anyone who’s inexperienced. If you’re experienced or planning on getting a professional to apply the film, it’ll be less expensive to buy a roll of window tint film.

Window Tint Pricing 

For less than $20, you can get 24-inches x 6.5-feet of window tint film, but this will be dyed film that will eventually turn purple and won’t provide much UV or heat protection. For less than $60, you can get 20 inches x 10 feet of ceramic window tint film, which will provide better protection than any other type of window tint, but you’ll need to cut it to the right size. You can get pre-cut carbon window tint kits starting at around $100, but the price will vary depending on your vehicle and how many windows you want to tint. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Are window tints illegal?

A: Every state has different laws about window tints and revolve around your tint's VLT. Some states will charge or fine you if your window tint goes below a set VLT value. You can find more information about the laws regarding window tints in your state here.

Q: How do I clean a tinted window?

A: Mix warm water with some dish soap and apply this mixture to the tinted window with a microfiber cloth. Gently wipe the window in one direction with the cloth. Never use ammonia-based window cleaners, as these can dry out your tint. You should also never use anything abrasive to clean a tinted window.

Q: How long do window tints last?

A: The lifespan of your window tint will depend on the type of film you choose, the installation process, and how well you care for it. A high-quality window tint can effectively last for up to 10 years, but a low-quality window tint that isn’t well cared for might only last for one year.

stripe
stripe