What window tint is too dark; options local automotive shops have to protect against UV light
As many hit the road for the unofficial start of summer this holiday weekend - police will be out more. Along with looking for the usually violations of speeding and distracted driving they will also be looking for dark window tinting. It's a primary offense which means an officer can pull you over right away for it.
But what's too dark for windows?
“Basically, if you can’t see the driver then naturally it would be too dark,” Sergeant Matthew Abbey of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
Ohio law states that tint on side windows can’t block more than 50% of light transmission and that no reflective material can be on any windows. The backseat windows and the rear window can have any shade of tint.
For the front windshield drivers can only have tint on the top five inches. On every car there's an AS1 mark that shows you exactly where the tint must stop.
When it comes to applying tint at shops like Automotive Restyle there are options.
"There's Standard films, carbon film and ceramic films … all of the films will give you UV protection,” Justin Whitcomb, window tint technician at Automotive Restyle said.
All three types come in different shades by percentage. The higher the percentage the more sun protection for your skin and for the interior of your car. But window tinting doesn’t always have to mean you darken your windows.
“If you wanted it to just stay clear, if you didn't want to have your windows darkened at all, I have a 70% that I could put on but it’ll give you the protection from the IR and UV rays,” Whitcomb said.
Every window tint is specific to the make and model of the car. Whitcomb prints out the film on a machine that cuts it to the exact measurements of the window.
After cleaning the window thoroughly, the film goes onto the outside of the car window. Since the film is designed to go on a flat surface, the film bubbles when on the window at first so Whitcomb uses a heat gun to “shrink them out.”
“You’re just heat shrinking it (the film) to the shape of the window,” Whitcomb said.
Once the film is shaped he puts it on a plastic board next to the car as he preps the inside of the window.
Whitcomb sprays the inside of the window down with water and sprays the air to get rid of any dust that could land on the window. Back at the plastic board, he peels the liner layer off of the film so that it's now just the tint and the adhesive backing.
Making sure the film doesn’t touch anything but glass - he places it on the inside of the window and then pushes the water out with a few special squeegee tools.
To get things perfect, the last step is to file the top edge of the tint on the window.
In total it takes Whitcomb about 15 minutes to tint one window. He recommends ceramic films the most.
“Standard films don’t really give you any IR rejection, which is the heat you feel,” he said. “If you want a better film that's going to actually reject heat - so if you’re sitting here at a stop light and the sun's beating through the window - with this ceramic film you’re going to get about 95% rejection. So you probably won't even feel it.”
Whenever someone is deciding what tint to get, police warn that if you go for the really dark shades it can cause problems when driving at night.
“Obviously looking through sunglasses at night is more difficult so looking through a tinted window has kind of the same effect,” Sargent Abbey said.
The penalty for having tinted windows that are too dark is a fine.