Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Mar 31, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Tinting car windows reduces Visible Light Transference (VSL), which protects drivers and passengers from UV and IR rays
  • It can take 30 minutes or more to tint car windows yourself
  • State laws determine how dark you can tint the windshield and front and rear windows of a vehicle

If you’re wondering how to tint car windows, read our guide to learn how to apply window tint yourself. Tinting windows reduces Visible Light Transference (VSL), protecting drivers and passengers from harmful UV rays. It also keeps the vehicle’s interior cool and creates more privacy for passengers while on the road. 

However, if you want insurance to cover tinted windows, you will need to carry comprehensive car insurance with additional custom parts coverage.

Can I tint car windows myself?

Yes, most dyed and metallic films are available at local auto parts stores. You can even buy a spray-on window tint if you need to darken your windows quickly.

But before you tint car windows yourself, research your state laws to determine how dark they can legally be. In some states, tint on windshields and front windows cannot be less than 20%. So, make sure you’re within your state’s legal limits before you learn how to tint the windows on a car.

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How to Tint Car Windows Yourself: Step-by-Step

How to install window tint starts with a clean and dry workspace. You don’t want debris getting in between the tint film and your window, so applying window tint in a garage is the best route. Vacuum the interior of your vehicle as well to eliminate as much dust as possible.

Then, gather all the necessary supplies you need to tint car windows yourself. Some drivers purchase window tint installation kits that provide all the tools you’ll need, or you can gather the supplies you need from the following list:

  • Large spray bottle of soapy water (must hold a gallon or more)
  • Smaller spray bottle of clean water
  • Razor blade scraper
  • Hard card scraper
  • Microfiber towels
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Heat gun
  • Precision knife

You can use an electric hair dryer in place of the heat gun to dry your tint, but it will take longer. On average, it can take 30 minutes or more to tint car windows yourself, so give yourself enough time to place and set the film.

Once you’ve found your workspace and gathered your supplies, follow the steps below to tint your car windows:

Step One: Prep and Clean Car Windows

Fill the spray bottle with soapy water and clean your windows. Remove any stickers, stains, and fingerprints. Then, use the razor blade scraper to clean the edges and seals of the bottom and sides of your window.

Clean both the inside and the outside of the window. You will apply the tint to the interior of the window, but both sides of the glass must be clean. This reduces the amount of dust that could get under the tint and ruin the appearance of your windows. Never use Windex, as it can destroy the film and leave streaks under your tint. 

Finally, dry your window with a microfiber towel. Refill the spray bottle if necessary because you will need at least a half gallon to install your tint.

Step Two: Cut and Measure Window Tint

Before measuring the tint film, make sure you are working with the proper side. 

Only one side of the tint will peel away to stick to the window, so ensure that side is facing you when you measure and cut your film. Do NOT peel it away until after the film is cut.

To begin, spray the outside of the window with soapy water. Then gently unroll the tint film to cover the outside of the window. The water helps it stick while you work with it. Next, cut off a manageable-sized piece but leave at least a ⅔-inch of film over the edges.

At this point, the tint film will look roughly like a square. Spray the film with soapy water, then use your precision knife to cut the film at the bottom and left side of your window.

Want the perfect fit for your window tint? After trimming these two edges, gently slide the film one inch to the left. Next, cut the right edge and recenter the tint, leaving about a half inch of film on either side. After you re-center the film, pull the tint down about an inch before cutting the top, then re-center again. This extra bit of film on all sides will be tucked into the seals of your interior window and improve light reduction.

Before cutting the top, roll down the window a bit and follow the natural shape of the glass. This will also ensure you get the perfect shape for your window tint. Use the precision knife to clean up any rough edges or corners.

Step Three: Adhere Tint to Window

Before moving to the interior window, prepare the tint with the heat gun or hair dryer. Leaving the film on the outside glass, blow heat and use the hard card scraper to push all the air bubbles out the bottom. Leave the film here as it will be easier to remove the layer and adhere it to the inside later.

Once the air bubbles are gone, clean the inside window with soapy water and squeegee dry. When clean, spray a thin layer of soapy water on the window again.

Peel away half of the layer to reveal the adhesive side, then spray the exposed section with clean water. Now, it’s ready to adhere.

Gently remove the layer and line up the adhesive side with the top right corner of the interior window. Sneak the edges under the seal and smooth it out along the glass. Once adhered, use the hard card scraper to push out excess water and air bubbles.

Peel away the rest of the adhesive, spray with fresh water, and set the tint on the bottom half of the window. Make sure to tuck the edges into the bottom seal and use the hard card scraper to smooth it.

How to Tint Car Windows Without Film

Spray tint is the faster way to tint car windows without film, but it’s often more expensive and harder to work with if you want an even tint. However, you may prefer it if you have a steady hand.

Before using spray window tint, wash and prep your windows as described above. Be sure to cover your car’s interior, dashboard, and instruments with newspaper or plastic, so it’s not stained in the process. 

Roll the window down and begin an even spray left to right, over the interior window. Hold the can at least two inches away to avoid bubbles and drips. When dry, roll the window up to get the bottom edge.

You may want to apply two or more layers of spray tint to get the level of tint you want, but wait until it dries before applying another layer.

Does tinting windows affect car insurance rates?

The good news is that insurance companies will not raise your car insurance rates if you tint your windows. However, you need to carry full coverage if you want your aftermarket window tint covered by car insurance.

Full coverage car insurance includes collision and comprehensive coverage for car windows. On average, full coverage car insurance rates are $138/month.

Read your policy carefully to ensure your tinted windows are covered. Aftermarket tint may require a policy add-on, but some car insurance companies will cover some custom parts with a comprehensive policy. 

For example, Progressive offers up to $1,000 in aftermarket parts coverage with its comprehensive policies. Read our Progressive car insurance review to learn more. 

However, you will find the best rates if you compare rates from multiple companies. Take advantage of our free car insurance resources to learn more about the car insurance companies in your area and where you can find the most affordable car insurance rates.