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DIY Car Window Tinting: A How-To Guide

DIY Car Window Tinting: A How-To Guide

Car window tinting offers numerous benefits, including style enhancement, glare reduction, and heat insulation. It also provides protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and infrared (IR) radiation, safeguarding your vehicle's interior. 

Here, we will walk you through the process of installing window tint film yourself.

Types of Window Tints

Different types of window tints are available, each with its unique features and characteristics. These include:

  • Dyed Tints: Primarily used for aesthetic purposes and privacy.
  • Metalized Tints: Contain metallic particles that reflect heat and UV radiation.
  • Hybrid Tints: Combine the advantages of dyed and metalized tints.
  • Carbon Tints: Consist of micro-layers of polymer and carbon to reduce UV and IR.
  • Ceramic Tints: The highest quality and most advanced option, providing superior performance.

When choosing a window tint, it is important to think about your motivations, safety, and, above all, your state's tint laws. Make sure that the tint level complies with the legal tint requirements of your state.

Preparation and Materials

Before you begin the installation process, gather all the necessary tools and materials. Think about purchasing an installation kit that doesn’t break the bank, which may include the following items:

  • Large spray bottle filled with soapy water
  • Window film
  • Microfiber towels
  • Razor blade scraper and blades
  • Silicone squeegee
  • Tint squeegee or applicator
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Precision knife with replacement blades
  • Heat gun

Preparing the Windows

To assure a successful tinting process, follow these steps for window preparation:

  • Avoid using commercial glass cleaners or ammonia-based solutions; they can change the color of the tint.
  • To remove dirt and dust, vacuum the interior.
  • Wash both the inside and outside of the windows using the soapy water mixture.
  • Lower the window to clean the top section of the glass, then raise it to the closed position.
  • Wet the window again and use a razor scraper to eliminate any remaining dirt, grime, or sticker residue.
  • Thoroughly clean the window trim, seals, and any other areas where dirt or grime may be present.
  • Using a dry microfiber cloth and a squeegee, dry the glass. To dry under the window trim and seals, use a cloth-wrapped squeegee.
Window tinting sizing

Sizing the Tint Film

To determine the adhesive side of the film without removing the liner, follow these steps:

  • Saturate the outside glass with soapy water.
  • Unroll the tint film and cover the entire outside of the window, leaving excess film.
  • Gently press the film onto the glass to temporarily hold it in place.
  • Trim the film into a manageable size, leaving a few inches overlapping the glass.
  • Wet the film and smooth it using the tint squeegee.
  • Cut along the bottom and back of the glass, using the window seals as guides.
  • Pull the film straight back, overlapping the back of the window by 1/2-inch.
  • Trim the front side of the film, ensuring a 1/4-inch overlap at the front and back of the glass.
  • Lower the window slightly, wet the bottom of the film, and gently lift it away from the glass.
  • Lower the window one inch, wet the glass, and smooth out the film using the tint squeegee.
  • Trim the top edge of the film based on the glass as a guide.
  • Carefully cut away any excess film at the front or rear of the glass.
  • Smooth out any corners or wrinkles.
Window Tint

Applying the Tint Film

Follow these steps to apply the tint film:

  • Thoroughly clean the inside of the window, including the window trim and seals. Make sure no dust or dirt remains to prevent bubbling.
  • Spray the inside of the glass with soapy water.
  • Remove the adhesive backing without removing the film from the outside window.
  • Carefully peel the film from the outside glass and apply the wet adhesive side against the inside glass.
  • Spray the film and slide it into position, leaving a small space below the top of the window.
  • Use the tint squeegee to push out water and air bubbles, starting from the center and working toward the sides and top.
  • Raise the window and spray the bottom of the film and glass. Remove water and air bubbles using the tint squeegee.
  • Carefully tuck the exposed edges of the film under the window seals using the squeegee or applicator.
  • Continuously spray the film as you work to eliminate air bubbles and prevent tearing.
  • Use a heat gun sparingly to remove excess water, air bubbles, and stretch the film for curved windows. Avoid excessive heat, as it can damage the film.
  • Once finished, dry the film using a lint-free microfiber cloth.
  • Repeat the process for each window and avoid lowering the windows for at least seven to ten days to allow the adhesive to cure fully.

For More Do-It-Yourself Projects, Make Sure You Have Your Haynes Car Manuals

Car window tinting provides numerous benefits, and with this DIY guide, you can achieve professional-looking results while saving money. However, it's important to adhere to your state's window tint regulations to avoid legal issues. For comprehensive car repair and maintenance information, Haynes Manuals offer invaluable resources. Our manuals cover various areas of interest, including cars, motorcycles, and more. Reach out today and experience the expertise of Haynes Manuals in your DIY car projects.