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Thread: Automotive window tinting

  1. #1
    High Plains Luddite George's Avatar
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    Automotive window tinting

    Any experiences? Stories to tell? Things to look out for? It wouldn't surprise me if we have former installers in the house.

    I'm thinking about having my Ridgeline windows tinted. I should probably just get on with it, but I always try to consider what could go wrong when hiring anyone to do anything.

    I had a Mitsubishi pickup tinted back in '92 and kept it seven years. By the time I was ready to sell it, the tint was faded, purple, bubbly, and peeling off on the sliding rear window. I remember spending a weekend scraping it off and don't want to have to do that again, ever. Local tint shop websites boast of how great everything is these days, but of course they're trying to sell it.

    There's a shop near me that's pretty well recommended and has been at the same location for eight years, according to their website. I figure I'll go there if I do this. My Dad had them tint two cars while he and Mom lived out here and his current car still looks very good. But, it's a 2016 model, I think, and always garaged, so that doesn't say much about long term durability.

    Any thoughts on tinting the upper part of the windshield? Mine has raised black dots to help block the sun above the rearview mirror where the visors don't reach and I've read that tint doesn't stick well there. But, I've also read "it was no problem for me". It's hard to know who to believe.

    I also think having that sharp black line of aftermarket tint on the top of the windshield tends to make the car look "more tinted", if that makes sense. It seems to call attention to the fact that the car has aftermarket tint, whereas a lot of SUVs and crew-cab pickups these days already have dark windows in the back from the factory, so not having any on the windshield might not draw a police officer's eye as quickly. And yet, the shop I called says if I get all my windows done (not just the front two to match the factory-tinted rear), he'll install a strip on the windshield for no additional cost. Okay, great, but what if it bubbles and peels around those dots in six months?

    Finally, are there concerns about temperature extreme temperatures causing tint to crack or peel? Like maybe twenty below zero in the parking lot of a ski area at 11,000 feet in the morning before the sun gets high enough to shine down into the valley of the parking lot? I'm sure the guy selling window tint will say no, but that's why I'm asking here.

  2. #2
    I'm no expert, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night...

    Look for a tint place that has positive reviews from repeat / long-term customers. I had planned to tint the E90 this summer but other expenses took priority. The place that I was going to go to has been around a while, was well liked by almost every reviewer, and they had a great lifetime warranty where if there was ever a problem with the tint the owner would make it right and redo it no charge. I'm sure this is only valid for the owner of the car at the time of install, not the lifetime of the car itself, but that's still pretty good peace of mind.

    Are you in it mainly for darkening the sun or for keeping the cabin cool in the summer? If the latter, and you don't care for the dark look, there are ceramic tints now that darken the windows only modestly and still keep the interior cool. There are even virtually clear tint films that do this (often used for windshields). My personal plan was to get a ceramic film (CA tint laws are extremely strict - front side windows have to practically have no tint on them) on all the windows to keep from getting pulled over but still reduce heat in summer, and use one of the reflective folding windshield covers whenever I park outside (my car is mainly garaged).

    I do believe it's true that tint films have come a long way since the 80s/90s when they would turn purple and bubble up. I removed tint like that on a large piece of hatch glass years ago. I didn't want to do it again either.

    I know nothing about sub-zero temperatures.

  3. #3
    Dead Brand Ambassador dodint's Avatar
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    Modern tint is pretty stout when professionally installed. I have a great relationship with my installer and hope you can find a good professional in your area. I don't have concerns about cracking/peeling. Go to a professional and you'll get a good outcome; this isn't a do-it-yourself with purple film from Autozone endeavor. The MINI was parked outside in winter here in PA and had no issues with the sub-freezing temps.

    You're right to be concerned about the visor. I have quality tint on two of my vehicles; the MINI and the DMC. The MINI windshield is very steep and so the visor looks and *is* huge, I don't like it but I haven't bothered to take it off yet. Looks great from the outside but from the drivers seat the line of delineation between tint/no-tint is very abrupt:



    I recommend getting a visor, but sit in the vehicle and get in idea of how low too low is and instruct them to not apply it below that line. It shouldn't extend below the AS-1 line anyway, and that's 5 inches. Luckily for me the Z4 already has a visor on it and it's only about 2.5" which is about perfect.
    On the contrary the angle of the windshield on the DMC is very shallow and I run a vinyl visor on that one that you can't see through:



    It works because of the angle of the windshield and the low driving position.

    My greatest suggestion to you is to get ceramic tint. You'll probably pay a 25% premium for it, but it is exceptional at blocking radiant heat. The DMC has it. I decided to go with it because I had just replaced the AC system and wanted to do what I could to make it last forever by keeping the cabin cooler in the summer. My Dad and I drove it from Pittsburgh to Kentucky in mid-June in triple digit heat and that stuff blocked everything. You could put your hand up against it and not feel the heat coming through, it's really great.

    The Z4 is getting tinted with ceramic on Wednesday. I'm even considering sending my E46 racing windshield to my tint guys to have a nearly transparent layer put on it.

    As for legality that's kind of a crapshoot. The MINI is invisible on the road even though it's bright red with illegal levels of tint on it. The DMC has other concerns in terms of notice-ability. Is this for the Ridgeline? If so I doubt you have to worry, trucks are often allowed to do whatever they want regardless of statute. Don't go too dark because it does make it more difficult to see out at night. The MINI can be a challenge in certain conditions. 10% is way too dark (limo tint), the MINI is 25%, the DMC is 35% light throughput.

    Cost might be variable by region. At my shop it costs about $450 to do a sedan in ceramic w/a visor. They're charging me $300 to do the roadster without a visor. The MINI was somewhere in between. Your costs may vary.

  4. #4
    High Plains Luddite George's Avatar
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    Thanks gents. I always appreciate hearing from those I trust rather than Yelp reviews and whatnot.

    Quote Originally Posted by dodint
    Your costs may vary.
    Not much from yours. $449 is the "out the door" price I was quoted for their best tint (didn't get into details of what exactly that was but it's on their site) with a "free" windshield strip, including tax and whatever else, with a 2% discount for cash or check instead of a card. I'd like to go dark but not so dark that I get pulled over for it. I don't hear much about cops hassling people for illegal tint here, but I also don't know a ton of people to discuss it with. I imagine Denver cops have bigger problems but the small town guys might not.

    I also want to keep the interior from getting faded for as long as I can. It's a nice dark blue-grey and having owned a few older cars with cloth interiors and no tint, I can just see it fading over the years with my Future VisionTM goggles. I bought my last car thinking I'd keep it two or three years and it ended up being over a decade. Now I'm starting over with a relatively low-mileage vehicle for its age and wanting to keep it nice for as long as possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by CudaMan
    I'm no expert, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night...
    "You think I'm not very bright and you might be right
    I might've been born yesterday
    But I was up all night"


    From the song "In Between Jobs" by Todd Snider

  5. #5
    Dead Brand Ambassador dodint's Avatar
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    I'm going to my tint place Wednesday for the Z4. If you have any specific questions for them I'm happy to ask.

  6. #6
    Crime Fighter Cam's Avatar
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    Dang, the Mini looks good. I like the clean, all-business simplicity of it.

  7. #7
    THE KING IN THE NORTH! TheBenior's Avatar
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    FWIW, my 35% visible light (legal limit in IL) ceramic tint job ran me $380+75 for the 20% windshield header. The base price on non-ceramic tint was $300, IIRC, which is a bit higher than the $250 some local places quote. However, this place had good reviews and was close enough to walk to from my house.

    I've been impressed with the heat rejection of the ceramic tint enough to the point that I've thought that I should've gotten it done on my last car. When the sun is setting and I'm driving north, I feel much less heat on my left arm. I haven't been through any winters with it yet since I just got the car in June. OTOH, I wish I'd gotten the windshield header either in 35% instead of 20%, or specifically told them not to go past the AS1 line (they did about double that).

    Backing up my narrow side driveway at night with the windows up is a bit trickier, but I'm thinking I could've gotten most of the heat rejection and easier backing up with a lighter ceramic tint.

    IMG_20190628_112028.jpg
    IMG_20190628_151719.jpg

  8. #8
    Dead Brand Ambassador dodint's Avatar
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    Thanks, Cam! There's a reason Ashley stole it from me.

    Ross, I kind of want to go back and redo the MINI now. It has conventional tint and we shut the rear window on some luggage and scratched it so I'm tempted to redo it. But then I buy racing car parts instead.

  9. #9
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    Do it. But don't go cheap. Don't go crazy either. A good tint won't peel, corrode or bubble. And like Brian said you can get mild tints that block a lot of heat.

    California's draconian (over exagerration much?) law on tinting made me reticent to tint any of my vehicles. I absolutely hate the dark rear windows no tint front windows look. I hate having a hot car too. On my BMW 2002 it has the tint from the original owner. So probably from the 70s. Some fuckstick cop gave me a ticket for the front windows so I removed the front window tint.
    On my first Mercedes 300E I didn't tint the windows. It was also my first car with AC (we don't talk about the Corolla!) so I was ok with it. Champagne with a light beige interior. My brother preached the gospel of tint, but i'd been bitten by the fuckstick cop so i didn't. He had a similar color BMW 525i whose AC was arctic cold (probably helped by the tint!) when mine was just marginal.

    I bought my second W124 in Phoenix and it had limo tint all round, front windshield included. Windshield was lighter of course. That's when I was converted by the gospel of tint. Black car with a black leather interior and it wouldn't get oppressively hot even when left in the burning hot sun of So Cal all day. Of course it was an illegal tint and I got pulled over, in Arizona no less, for it, while obeying the speed limit. Like, really?!?! "You pulled me over for a too dark window tint in a state where your heat is oppressive malicious?" Yes he did. He really fucking did. Fucking fuckstick. Fuck him. Pretended I didn't have my insurance so that's what he gave me a ticket for. Kept my damn tint! Did I say fuck him yet?

    My third W124 I had tinted all round the day after I returned from picking it up. A good ceramic tint, not too dark, but darker than what's legal. It looks really nice. The limo tint on my second one was far more effective in repelling heat. This one is still good, but not as good. But it's light enough to have not caused me to be pulled over by some fuckstick. I've pulled over multiple times in this car, often going "go to jail" speeds. No comments about the tint. Not a fuckstick when i'm obviously breaking the law with wanton abandonment.
    But the $1071 ticket i won't ever forget. yup. 104mph at 01:30 hrs in the middle of nowhere just inside California on the west bound I10. I don't complain too much about that ticket because i'm pretty sure he wasn't behind me when i was maxed out, or he was too far behind me to be catching up, just 5 minutes earlier when I was probably doing 140mph. CVPI max out at ~130mph, could be less with the lights on the roof.
    Don't get me started about the court, judge, and sentencing for that ticket.

    95 E320.JPG

  10. #10
    High Plains Luddite George's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. Cool pictures. TheBenior's car is sharp!

    Quote Originally Posted by dodint
    But then I buy racing car parts instead.
    That's sort of my problem, but in reverse - I hate to spend the money on luxury items such as this when I should be more responsible. I'll probably never get over that, despite my wife occasionally asking, "Just how much older do you want to be before you have nice things?" Of course, she's been saying that since she met me and I had a twelve-foot long couch in my apartment that she said looked like it came from a bus station in the 1970s. I maintained it was more likely a doctor's office. I mean, it's wasn't that bad. It was free and I had a pickup and an empty apartment. Of course I brought it home.

    neanderthal needs to tell more stories. Or maybe the snippets above are in keeping with the old show business adage: "Always keep 'em wanting more!"

    we don't talk about the Corolla!

    Did I say fuck him yet?

    I've pulled over multiple times in this car, often going "go to jail" speeds.

    Don't get me started about the court, judge, and sentencing for that ticket.

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