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How Dark Can I Tint My Windows?

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For Safety and Appeal, Follow State Window Tint Law

Tinted car windows can add several benefits and a sleek look to almost any vehicle. Still, it is essential to tint your windows in accordance with your state’s window tint laws.

Window tinting laws vary from state to state. Vermont, New Hampshire, and New Jersey don’t allow any window tint at all. So, before you head to the auto glass shop to have your windows darkened, be sure to check local regulations.

We’ve put together this simple guide to help you learn about the care of your newly tinted car windows and the Oregon and California window tint laws.


What is Window Tinting?

Car window tinting darkens the surface of the glass. It can be applied to the windshield, back, and side windows. You might choose to darken your windows for a few reasons — from adding visual appeal to reducing exposure to UV light.

There are three main ways to tint windows:

  • Glass tinted during manufacture
  • Spray-on coating to darken the glass
  • Film coating that’s applied to the window interior

Most shops use film coating to darken your car’s windows. Tinted glass is an option you can usually only find directly from the manufacturer when you buy a new car.

Benefits of Car Window Tinting

There are several benefits drivers consider when tinting their windows:

  • Keeping Cool: Window tinting cuts out the amount of light and UV rays that enter your car cabin. This keeps the interior far cooler, especially in the hot summer months.
  • UV Protection: By blocking UV rays, window tinting extends the life of your car’s upholstery. The tint can block up to 99% of UV, thereby protecting your skin.
  • Accident Safety: Window tint applied as a film prevents shattered glass pieces from separating, minimizing the chance of flying glass shards.
  • Increased Privacy: Darker windows are harder for fellow drivers or pedestrians to see inside your car. Valuables won’t be spotted in a parking lot, making theft from your car less likely.
  • Looking Cool: Let’s face it, tinted windows look fantastic. They give your car (and by association, you) a sense of attitude and style.

With so many benefits, why do we have window tint laws? Because window tinting doesn’t just cut down on the UV rays but also on the visible light entering your car. And that can be a hazard. It’s no coincidence that the most dangerous driving times are when visible light is reduced.


Rating Window Tints by VTL

Window tint is measured in percentages of Visible Light Transmission (VLT). The percentage measures how much visible light passes through the tint. The higher the percentage, the more light passes through the tint. The lower the rating, the darker the tint color.

For example, a 15 percent tint only lets 15 percent of visible light through the film, blocking 85 percent of the light. A 70 percent window tint allows a greater amount of light through the film. Oregon and California window tint laws specify the VLT percentage allowable to determine how dark is too dark when tinting windows.


California Window Tint Law

Like most states, California restricts the amount of light you can legally block from entering the car. The concern is that too dark a window tint impairs your driving by making it harder to see. So, you won’t be able to completely darken all the windows on your vehicle. The 2022 California window tint law specifies tinting for both sedans and SUVs or vans as follows:

  • Windshield: Tinting is allowed on the top 4 inches of the windshield. The tint must be non-reflective.
  • Front Side Windows: The front side windows must be a 70 percent window tint or higher. They cannot be tinted any darker than 70 percent VLT.
  • Back Side Windows: No restrictions on the VLT of side windows in the back.
  • Rear Window: Any level of darkness is allowed on your rear window, but you must have dual side mirrors on your vehicle if you tint the back window.

In addition to restrictions on the darkness of a window tint, the California window tint law includes additional notable regulations for tinting:

  • You may not tint car windows with red, amber, or blue colors in California.
  • The window tint must not reflect more light than an untinted window.
  • The tint film manufacturer must certify the film, and you must carry the certificate in your vehicle.
  • You may be able to receive a medical exemption that allows for lower tint levels on all your windows.
  • Medical exemptions allowing a darker tint are available in some circumstances.

California window tint law restricts the reflective properties of any tint you add to your vehicle. Again, road safety is the reason for this restriction. Your front and rear side windows cannot be more reflective than a normal window. Although reflective window tint film exists, you shouldn’t use it on a car in California. To ensure your car is compliant with California legal tint regulations, check with your car dealership or window tinting mechanic.


Oregon Window Tint Law

Similar to California, Oregon window tint law regulates which windows you may tint in your vehicle, as well as the level of darkness allowed. Oregon restrictions vary depending on the type of vehicle being driven.

Oregon window tint law for sedans:

  • Windshield: Windshield tinting is restricted to the top six inches. That tinting can be any darkness of the tinting material or total light transmittance.
  • All Side Windows, Front and Back: All side window tint must allow at least 35 percent of light through.
  • Rear Window: Rear window tinting, like that for the side windows must allow at least 35 percent VLT.

Oregon window tint law for SUVs, pickups, and vans:

  • Windshield: Non-reflective tint is allowed at any darkness on the top 6 inches of the windshield only.
  • Front Side Windows: Front side windows must allow at least 35 percent VLT.
  • Back Side Windows: Any level of window tinting darkness may be used.
  • Rear Window: Any level of window tinting darkness may be used.

Although the Oregon window tint law allows SUVs, pickups, and vans to have darker windows in the rear sides of the vehicle, there are limits on the reflectiveness of the side windows. All front and back side windows in Oregon must be less than 13 percent reflective.

Additionally, Oregon regulates certain aspects of car window tinting to make darkened windows safer on the road:

  • Tint colors of red, green, or amber are not allowed.
  • You must have dual side mirrors if you tint the rear window.
  • The tint film manufacturer must provide you with a certificate of the VLT percentage and reflectance.
  • You may be able to get a medical exemption for a darker window tint with a certificate from a licensed physician or optometrist.

If you don’t follow Oregon window tint laws, you could face a ticket and up to several hundred dollars in fines.


Medical Exemptions to Window Tint Laws

Both Oregon and California window tint laws allow medical exemptions in some circumstances. Both state window tint laws enable you to apply for a medical exemption to tint your windows beyond their restrictions. You will need documentation from a dermatologist or other medical professional who can attest to your physical needs for a darker window tint.


Caring for Tinted Windows

Once you have chosen the window tint options that comply with your state’s window tint law, make an appointment to get it done. It’s likely your tinting shop will use film when tinting your windows. The shop applies the film and uses a tool to push out air bubbles and moisture for a closer fit.

You might notice a haze from water droplets pooling under the film. This is completely normal and might take a few days to disappear. The film used to tint windows allows moisture through it, so the water will eventually evaporate on its own.

Follow these tips to help your film-tinted windows last for a long time:

  • Avoid rolling down your windows for several days after installation. Your newly tinted windows can take up to four days to cure fully. Rolling windows up and down during this period can weaken the film’s hold on the window.
  • Use non-abrasive cleaning supplies to clean the interior of your windows. Try to find a natural window cleaner that doesn’t use chemicals like ammonia. Strong chemicals like ammonia can potentially harm the film and cause it to strip from the window.
  • Be careful when loading and unloading your car. Although your tinting film is designed to resist scratches, a sharp edge could still leave you with a noticeable mark.

Check Window Tint Law Before You Tint

Tinting the windows on your vehicle could help the interior stay cool, add privacy, help keep your skin from harmful UV rays, and look cool. California window tint law and other states’ restrictions change, so always check the current state regulations before investing in a new tint.

Maintaining your car in a fashion that best protects you and stays on the right side of any laws is critical, as is proper car insurance. Consider verifying that your auto insurance coverage meets your needs by calling and speaking with a Wawanesa agent today.



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