When it comes to tinting car windows, the owners are often puzzled – to tint or not to tint? Window tinting is one of the most frequent car upgrades today. This coverage is a special polyester material that gives a more aesthetic effect to your vehicle. However, window tint is not only about enhanced look and style. It has a lot of powerful protective features – tinting serves as a shield blocking UV (ultraviolet) and IR (infrared) radiation, reducing heat and providing privacy.
You can find plenty of different window tints on the market today. The main difference between them is VLT – Visible Light Transmission. It is an indicator that is calculated in percent and measures the amount of visible light being allowed into a car. The higher the parameter, the lighter the tint. The most popular tint options are 35% and 20%. Let’s learn more about what advantages you get after tinting your car’s windows and what tint percentage is optimal.
Benefits of tinted windows
Many car owners do not know all the pros and cons of tinting. A prime-quality car window tint is an efficient method to protect your investment.
Everyone will agree that it is a struggle to drive when rays are blinding your eyes. It is not only an annoying inconvenience but a safety hazard as your vision is compromised. This is where tinted windows come to the rescue. Tints effectively reduce the intensity of incoming light, allowing you to drive safely. Moreover, tinted windows can shield your eyes from the intrusive bright LED headlights reflecting in your rearview mirror.
UV Ray Defense
Tinted car windows are capable of blocking up to 99% of harmful UV rays. This protection brings two benefits. It works as a sunscreen from you while you are inside your vehicle, enhancing your overall comfort. Besides, it safeguards your car’s interior. Over time, relentless UV exposure damages the car’s upholstery and internal finishes, causing them to fade and deteriorate. Window tinting ensures the longevity of your car’s interior and maintains its resale value.
Window tints can do more than just block the UV light. They are also efficient against infrared radiation. In simpler terms, they don’t just block light but also resist heat from coming in. This feature contributes to a more comfortable interior, even without a nonstop use of air conditioning. So, window tints will make your driving cool and cost-effective.
Privacy is precious, even if we talk only about a vehicle. Tinting your car windows grants you some invisibility. The advantages of enhanced privacy extend beyond mere comfort; they encompass security as well. The majority of car break-ins occur opportunistically when a thief spots valuable things inside a car. Tinted windows obscure the view, reducing potential break-ins. Window tint effectively wards off unwanted attention and preserves your peace of mind.
Comparing 35% Window Tint vs. 20% Window Tint: Which One is Right for You?
Once you are ready to apply tint over your car’s windows, it is always a dilemma what tint is better – 35% or 20%. Let’s study the differences between these two choices and explore the factors that should influence your decision.
Heat and glare reduction
One of the key consideration points is the ability of the window tint to reduce heat and glare.
- 35% window tint. While it does provide some heat and glare reduction, 35% tint may not be as effective in fighting summer conditions as its darker variant. Still, it is a good option if you live in a moderately sunny climate or if you value visibility over heat reduction.
- 20% window tint. If you are in a very sunny or hot area, 20% tint can significantly decrease the amount of heat entering your car. It also minimizes sun glare more powerfully. However, bear in mind that in some regions, extremely dark tint might attract unwanted attention from the police.
Privacy and aesthetics
A darker window tint makes it challenging for others to see into your vehicle. Here’s where the difference between 35% and 20% tint becomes apparent.
- 35% window tint. This option provides a moderate level of privacy. It darkens the windows slightly, but some relevant visibility both from the inside and outside remains. If you value a balance between privacy and transparency, 35% might be the way to go. It also tends to be more compliant with window tinting laws in many areas.
- 20% window tint. With a 20% tint, you are enjoying much better privacy. This level of tint significantly reduces visibility from the outside while still allowing you to see reasonably well from the inside. However, 20% tint is not allowed in many areas, so it is crucial to check your local limitations.
Compliance with local laws is a critical factor when choosing window tint for your car. Tinting regulations vary from state to state, so you should research and understand the legal limits in your area.
- 35% window tint. In many regions, 35% tint is a golden standard and is well within legal limits. It provides a good balance between privacy and compliance.
- 20% window tint. 20% tint is prohibited in some areas, and using it could result in fines. Before selecting this option, make sure to check your local laws and regulations.
Are there legal restrictions concerning window tints?
Some modern cars come off the assembly line with factory window tinting, and owners do not need to rack their brains over how to give the car style and gloss. However, many manufacturers do not foresee this detail, allowing the owners to decide on their own whether they want to tint car windows or not. When choosing a film, it is important to follow legal requirements, which impose some LVT% limits. They may differ in the US from state to state, but roughly, you are to follow this guide:
- Front-side windows. The percentage of tinting should normally not exceed 35%. However, in Pennsylvania and California, the limit is 70%.
- Back-side windows. Here, the legal limit is less severe, allowing you normally to use 35% tint, with zero limitation in some states.
- Rear windows. You can also adhere to a golden standard here – 35%, but some states allow 20% or do not impose any restrictions at all.
- Windshield. Note that you cannot tint the entire windshields across the whole territory of the US. The rule is not to go beyond the AS-1 line, which is normally 4-6 inches from the upper edge of the windshield.
- Reflectivity. Normally, colored tinting (red, amber and blue) are prohibited. For the black color tints, you must have dual side mirrors.
In Illinois, your window tinting should be non-reflective and have 35% VLT for sedans and coupes. For SUVs and vans, the VLT limit is 50% for front windows, with no restriction for back and rear windows.
Should I get 35% or 20% tint?
If you are looking for the safest option – consider 35% tint. It allows more light compared to 20% and is safer due to better visibility. Besides, 20% tint film is not allowed in many states.
Is 35% darker than 20%?
The VLT percentage often causes confusion, as people believe the higher the parameter, the darker the tint. Actually, it works the other way around. The 20% window tint allows only 20% of light, while the 35% tint allows 35% of light. Thus, a 20% tint is darker.
How long does car window tint last?
High-quality tinting materials generally last from 5 to 10 years. However, this term depends on various factors: the quality of the tinting film, skills of the installers and environmental challenges.
How to wash tinted car windows?
Do not touch tinted windows until they fully cure after the procedure. Usually, it takes several days. Then, you can clean them with a mild soapy solution and a soft cloth. The main rule is to avoid aggressive substances and harsh materials.
Can the police pull you over for the tinted windows?
Each state in the USA has restrictions regarding window tinting VLT. So you need to follow these rules so as not to have misunderstandings with the police.
In the debate between the 35% window tint and 20% option, the choice ultimately depends on your specific needs, local regulations, and personal preferences. If your priority is privacy and reasonable visibility, 35% tint is always a safe bet, complying with the law. On the other hand, if you are driving in a sunny and hot climate location, it may be a fair deal to sacrifice some visibility for increased heat and glare reduction and opt for a 20% tint. Whatever you choose, always ensure that a reputable professional installs your window tint to achieve the best results in terms of both aesthetics and functionality.