Window tinting – Incognito driving feels cool!

Over the years, tinted or shaded windows have been popular means of giving the car a bit of extra. The added intimacy in the interior considerably alters the car’s appearance. A number of things should be considered when tinting the windows. Lack of expertise might result in a bad execution which could in its turn cause a conflict with authorities. Read below what is important with regard to window tinting.

Possibilities and impossibilities

tinting car windows diyOnly rear windows and the rear side windows can be fully tinted. Tinting the windscreen and the front side windows is prohibited by law. The law stipulates the amount of light a windscreen must let through. In this respect, “being seen” rather than “seeing” is important. If another traffic participant cannot see in which direction the driver is turning his head, this could under certain circumstances lead to a dangerous situation. Furthermore, the law requires a second side mirror in case of subsequent window tinting. But be honest: who would prefer the asymmetric look caused by a missing rear-view mirror?

It goes without saying, only ISO-certified products (ISO 9001/9002) can be used for window tinting.

Furthermore, when applying window film, following rules should be observed:

– The film should not exceed the window edge
– The film should not be wedged in the window frame or the window gasket.
– If the rear window is equipped with a brake light, its lighting surface should be left uncovered.
– Window film is always applied on the inside.
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how to tint front windowTIP: Car manufacturers install tinted windows all around on request. If the windscreen and front side windows are too clear for your taste, they can be replaced by slightly tinted windows. Be certain to observe the stipulations for tinting of windscreens and front side windows.

From the roll or pre-cut?

tinting car windows without foilPre-cut tinting film offers plenty of advantages. It is already made to fit, sparing you the cumbersome cutting out the right size. This solution is amazingly cheap as well. A complete kit for the rear window and rear side windows starts at 70 euro (£62). This price includes the necessary tools.

At ca. 9 euro (£8) per metre, uncut tinting roll film is certainly cheaper. However, full tinting of the rear and side windows requires 3 – 4 metres of film. The application is unwieldy and plenty of cutting is required. A specifically strong tinting or a chromium effect may cause the price to double. Wrong wrapping per metre is less dramatic. On the other hand, this is less probable with pre-cut film.

From the exterior to the interior

tinting car windows from inside to outsideShouldn’t film be applied on the inside? Most certainly.
However, for fitting and DIY pre-cutting the outside is used.
Theoretically you could try applying the film on the inside right away although this makes the job more complicated and is therefore advised against.
The steps of a window tinting are actually quite simple:

– cutting the film in the right size
– applying the film on the window
– removing the pre-cut film
– transferring the pre-cut film to the inside of the car window

For cutting a utility knife (Stanley knife) from the DIY shop is sufficient. For modelling the film on the window you need a blow dryer or heat gun as well as plenty of patience and a fine touch.

Window tinting – Step by step manual guide

For applying the film on the window you need:

– a tinting film kit, pre-cut or from the roll
– a squeegee
– a utility knife
– a bottle of fabric softener
– water
– a sprayer
– an infrared thermometer
– a blow dryer
  • how to prepare car windows for tintingStart by cleaning the rear window. For reasons of convenience we recommend removing the entire wiper arm. It can get in the way and catches dirt. Cleaning the window up to 2 – 3 times is recommended.
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  • how to clean car windowsNow, spray the entire window with a mix of water and fabric softener (ca. 1: 10). The fabric softener has adequate adhesive properties, and at the same time allows the film to slide on the window.
  • foiling car windowsThe film is applied and pre-cut roughly, allowing for a 3 – 5 cm edge thus preventing excess film to interfere with the work.
  • tips and tricks for tinting windows in a carA professional trick is as follows: press a large H onto the film with the squeegee. The vertical bars run along the right and left side of the window, the horizontal bar right in the centre. Check the squeegee for irregularities first. They could scratch the film and then all the work is for nothing.
  • how to apply tinting foilFirst, the H is made bubble-free, for which the blow dryer can be used. Be careful: do not scorch the film! Most film is suitable for processing at 180 – 200ᵒC. This should constantly be checked with the infrared thermometer.
  • fitting film for tinting windows in a carNow, the water-softener mix is pressed from under the film with the squeegee and the blow dryer. The better you work now, the easier the transfer of the film to the inside will be afterwards. The goal is a bubble-free adhesion of the film on the outside window.
  • how to accurately cut car foilWhen the film lies on the window fully flat and bubble-free, the edge is cut to size. Nowadays windows have a broad dotted line, simplifying orientation. Be certain to cut 2 – 3 mm along the dotted line. The result is a fully covered tinted surface.
  • how not to burn tinting filmNow, the film is pulled off and stored in a suitable place. Ideal is a large glass window, e.g. the window of a building to temporarily attach the film. On no account it may tear, scratch or fold. If no window is available, the film can alternatively be “parked” on a previously cleaned car bonnet. Applying the squeegee is not necessary.

Prior to applying the film on the inside of the tailgate it might be a good idea, depending on car model, to remove it first. Alternatively, working upside down or from the interior of the car is necessary, which could endanger the result. Therefore taking this simple step should be considered.

  • how to apply car tinting film with an air blowerNow the rear window is abundantly wet from the inside prior to application of the film, after which the squeegee is applied. The blow dryer can be used for slight adjustments. Be careful – this device can cause damage to car interior and potentially scorch upholstery and panelling. This is another reason why disassembling the tailgate is a good idea.

It the film has been previously been adapted on the outside, applying the blow dryer often is not necessary on the inside.
The film is also abundantly sprayed after application. The squeegee is wrapped in kitchen paper prior to its application for flattening the film. This enables the absorption of the adhesive agent and prevents scratches.

  • tinting car window manual guideWhen the film is applied, the necessary adjustments are made, such as cutting out the lighting area of the additional brake light. Ultimately the window is also cleaned again on the outside – and so the window tinting is done.

Foto: DavidGraham86, Sappasit, Bhakpong, Apple’s Eyes Studio, And-One, Ikonoklast Fotografie, YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV, Rades /

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