Guide to Window Tint Percentages
Planning to have your car windows tinted? One of the first things you’ll have to decide is how dark you want the tint to be. Even a slight amount of tint can reduce glare and make it easier to see in bright conditions. The degree of tint is expressed in a percentage, so it’s important to understand what this means before you make any decisions.
What the Numbers Mean
The percentage that you’ll see is a measure of the visual light transmission of the window film, or VLT. A 30% window tint allows 30% of the light to go through, and it blocks the other 70%. It’s important to note that a lower percentage means less light is allowed to go through, so the lower numbers mean darker when you’re talking about window tint percentages.
Because a good portion of the heat we get from the sun comes from visible light, a lower percentage also means that the window film will keep your car cooler, since it’s blocking more light.
What’s Allowed By Law?
It’s important to know that most states have legal limits on how dark you can tint your car windows. These vary widely, with some states having limits as low as 20% and some as high as 70%. A handful of states don’t allow any aftermarket tint at all, just the tint from the factory.
It matters whether you’re talking about the front windows/windshield or the back windows, too. Many states allow darker tint on the back windows where visibility isn’t as much of an issue.
When you look at a list of allowable tint percentages (like the one on this page), you’ll notice that many of the states that allow darker tint (lower percentages) are in the southern US. This is because tint is much more important for comfort and safety in sunny, hot areas. There are exceptions, however—California only allows a 70% tint, for example, while rainy Washington state allows 24%.
Factors to Consider
Once you make sure you’re in compliance with the laws of your state, you can decide how much tint you’d like. If you have a lot of problems with glare and eyestrain, or if you just like the look of dark windows, you’ll probably want to go for a lower percentage.
Age can be a factor, too. Older drivers often find that it’s more difficult to see through darker film, especially at night. This is also true for people who have less than perfect eyesight. The dividing line is generally about 35% tint. This level or lower is okay for younger drivers, but older ones may want to stay in the 50% range.
If you have children who ride in the backseat a lot, consider a darker tint on the back windows. This will help keep them cooler and prevent the sun shining in their eyes as much.