As car modifications go, window tinting is one of the most practical projects you can undertake. Not only will it improve the look of your ride, but as you’ll see, the protective benefits might also help you recoup your investment when you decide to sell your car down the road. If you decide to install a window tint kit, you will be doing yourself and your car a favor.
Before you proceed with the project, you have a few decisions to make and a few items to research. Your first decision is your budget. As with most automotive projects, you have a wide range of price options available to you. You can buy the cheapest window tinting kit you can find and install it yourself, or pay a high-end shop hundreds of dollars to install the highest-quality materials. We aren’t about to tell you how to spend your money, but we can at least give you an idea of what you can expect.
The next decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to pay a shop to handle the installation or do it yourself. We’ll focus on this question for the rest of this article, to make sure you have a good idea of your project’s scope.
You’ll want to do some research on your own to understand what’s involved in the project. We’ll give you a basic rundown of the procedure for installing the window tint kits, but you should seek other, more complete resources to make sure you are as prepared as you can be.
Also, as with every modification yo make to your vehicle, you want to make sure it complies with the laws in your state and municipality. State governments have devoted considerable energy to creating the rules and regulations that govern the safety of your vehicle, so law enforcement officers take them seriously. Illegally tinted windows are much easier to spot than an illegal exhaust, for instance.
This isn’t to say all window tint is illegal. If it were, there wouldn’t be any point in writing this article. However, you want to make sure you understand your parameters when you buy a window tint kit. It would be a shame to spend money on the window tinting kit only to have to throw it all away when a police officer or inspection mechanic says your car is out of compliance.
Why Window Tint?
The most obvious benefit to tinting your windows is the improvement to your car’s appearance. Dark windows just look cool to most of us. Making your car look good is important, but it is not the greatest benefit of window tinting.Window tint provides important protection for your car’s interior when the sun gets hot. If you live in the South and Southwest, tinted windows are indispensable. Darker window tint will block sunlight and ultraviolet rays from damaging your leather seats, plastic dash and trim pieces.
Window tint can also help keep car interior temperatures in check. On a sunny summer day, you car’s interior can reach temperatures in excess of 160 degrees, and your car’s air conditioning system has to work really hard to combat these extreme temperatures.
By applying window tint, you can deflect some of that sunlight and ultraviolet light and keep your interior temperatures down. Not only will this help take the stress off your AC system, but you could also see a little bit of gas mileage improvement as well. These extreme temperatures are also harmful for your car’s electronic systems – from your infotainment system to any of the computer modules in your dashboard. Electronics don’t like extreme temperatures, and 160 degrees certainly qualifies.
Finally, tinted windows can help provide some privacy when you are driving around town. You’ll appreciate the privacy when you’re in the car to be sure, but you’ll also be grateful when your car is parked. These darker windows will obscure the view of anyone who might get ideas about borrowing your stuff while you aren’t around.
Professional Installation Versus DIY
Installing a window tint kit is not the easiest project you could undertake with your vehicle, but if you have the right tools, are good with your hands and have a reasonable amount of patience, you should be able to achieve a result that can compete with a professional job. However, there is something to be said for the experience a professional can bring to the table. Here are the pros and cons of each option.
Pros of DIY
Installing the window kit yourself has many advantages. Here are just a few:
Options to fit it every situation and budget: The online world of aftermarket car accessories can offer hundreds of different do-it-yourself window tinting kits for the ambitious amateur mechanic. As with most automotive parts, quality varies wildly in accordance with price. Your budget is an important consideration, but the durability and ease of installation of your window tinting kit should carry some weight as well.
Precut kits make the job easier: When shopping for window tinting kits, you have two options: precut and whole sheets. Rvinyl has precut kits for hundreds of models of cars, trucks and SUVs. These kits are precision-measured and cut to fit your windows right out of the box, and these kits and materials are much more user-friendly than past options.
These precut kits will save you a ton of time compared to using whole sheets. It takes the guesswork out of measuring, and Rvinyl is the only manufacturer that offers warranties on our DIY kits.
Less expensive: Taking the DIY route can help you save money. You won’t have to pay the shop for the labor to install your window tints. If you are worried about a mistake costing you more in the long run, don’t worry – our kits have discounted replacements, so you don’t need to purchase an entire new kit.
Self-reliance: Finally, doing the job yourself will always leave you with a sense of accomplishment. A job well done means you can take pride in your vehicle.
Cons of DIY
While we certainly want to give you the confidence to tackle this job on your own, we also want to give you all the information you could possibly need to make the best decision for you. So let’s take a look at some of the cons to the DIY route.
Not the easiest job: Applying a professional-looking window tint job is undoubtedly difficult. Not impossible, but definitely difficult. Even if you have plenty of experience with repairs and modifications on the rest of your car, this is an entirely different task that requires its own set of skills and tools. If this is the first time you’ve ever done this, it’s natural to have doubts and reservations.
Clean room? In a sense: Applying the window tint kit neatly and cleanly requires a clean workspace where dust is kept in check. Are you sure you have a workspace that will give you the environment you need? We aren’t talking about a static-free room that requires masks and booties, but all of those poetic images of dust particles dancing in the wind? Those dust particles can easily end up in between the tint film and your window, so you had better have a way to deal with it.
Is it legal – really?: Car modifications are strictly regulated across the entire country, and while we do have resources to help you understand the rules in your state, we don’t claim to be lawyers. The rules in your municipality might be slightly different from those of your state. When you make the purchasing decision and do the work yourself, you accept all the legal liability that comes it.
Even if you do all of your research and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you comply with all the rules and regulations in your area, a DIY kit isn’t a workable solution for states that require certifications stickers for your tints.
Pros of a Professional Installation
If you don’t do the job yourself, you only have one other option – get someone else to do it. We would strongly suggest that someone else be a professional. Here are the most compelling reasons to hire a professional to perform the installation.
Experienced technicians: A professional technician will have the tools and experience to get the job done quickly, and the result will probably be better than what you can do yourself.
Guarantees: Any shop that deserves your business will guarantee its work. If there is something you aren’t happy with, whether it’s at the time of the installation or in the months that follow, they will make it right. This means no matter how much time or money it takes to get the job done, the result will be worth it.
Value can take many forms: DIY tinting results may vary, especially if you are attempting this project for the first time. It’s possible that the time and frustration you save by having a pro tint your vehicle will outweigh any savings from doing the job yourself.
This even assumes that it is cheaper. In some metro areas where window tinting is necessary for your car’s survival, you might find that the pro can do the job for less money than you could spend on your own project. Shop around and make sure you find out what kit they’ll be installing on your vehicle.
Is it legal? They’ll know best: You should look for a shop that does brisk business, which means they have experience with the job itself and the regulations that apply to your window tints. They will be thoroughly familiar with the rules and regulations in your state and municipality, so you know your windows will be legal.
Cons of a Professional Installation
To balance things out, we have to cover the cons of going with a professional installation.
Are they experienced?: It is easy to assume that the technician performing the install is a seasoned professional who does this day in and day out. However, we’ve all seen job postings for garages and body shops. It would be naïve to think the person installing your tint has 20 years of experience and tons of training. Who’s to say he has significantly more experience than you do? “None” may not be a high bar to clear, but don’t assume the professionals will always clear it easily.
Cost: For better or worse, we will never be able to get around the issue of cost. A professional job will cost you a professional price. We mentioned above that it’s possible for a professional installation to be less expensive, but it isn’t likely.
Quality: The shop you contact to perform your installation isn’t going to take the time to be your personal shopper. Unless you are fortunate enough to live in an area that has specialized window tinting shops, you aren’t likely to get a choice in the quality of materials they use on your car.
If they use the cheapest option they can order, the result will be a cheap job done well. They may guarantee their work if something goes wrong, but they won’t offer any warranties if the film begins to peel, fade or otherwise break down two or three years down the road.
Do they have a clean environment?: There aren’t many places in the country where a shop can pay the rent specializing in window tint installations, so chances are the garage you take it to has other types of work on the books. Cars are dirty, and the work done to them tends to produce a lot of dust, grease and other substances.
A professional operation should make sure they perform the installation cleanly, but accidents happen, and the install technician isn’t going to clean up his workspace just to do your job.
Making the Decision
If you are reading this article, you are at least considering the DIY path for tinting your windows. Hopefully we have helped to give you enough information to decide whether or not you want to take on the task yourself. Professional installation from a shop you trust can give you peace of mind knowing your car looks good, and all you had to do was drop it off at the shop.
However, if you tackle the project on your own, and you have a few tools, a deep well of patience and razor-sharp focus, you can pull off a finished product that is every bit as impressive as a professional technician.
Browse our inventory of window tinting kits, research the rules and regulations in your state, and get to work. If you have any questions, our staff will be more than happy to assist you and make your shopping experience as enjoyable as possible.