Window Tint Removal
Can you remove window tint? That is one of the most common questions asked by drivers who are stuck with tints that are either damaged or undesired. Tints are designed to adhere to windows through all kinds of weather, season after season, but you can peel off tints and either replace them with new ones or switch to a tint-free driving experience.
This article covers how to remove window tint with two different methods. Turns out, the necessary tools for removing window tint consist of only a few common items that you might already have in your cabinet.
Reasons to Remove Tint
While tints can improve your driving experience, you will probably have to replace them at some point during your ownership of a given vehicle. Whether the tints are in poor shape or simply ill-suited for the vehicle, drivers commonly remove tints for the following reasons:
- Damaged: Tints can get damaged over time due to factors like age and excessive moisture and heat. If your tints have been scratched in certain spots, it could render them unattractive and less effective. Once the tints degrade to this level, the time is generally right to remove them from the windows and apply new tints, if desired.
- Bubbly: As the seasons pass, your vehicle could easily be exposed to extreme heat and freezing cold temperatures. Such conditions can degrade the quality of your window tints, leaving them with bubbles or blisters.
- Discolored: The tints in your vehicle might become discolored over time due to intense sunlight exposure. Alternately, you might not like the color of your tints and wish to have them replaced with another shade or color.
- Penalties: Depending on the laws in your jurisdiction, the tints in your vehicle might be prohibited in your town or city. This can be a rude awakening if you had the tints applied to your vehicle and were subsequently fined because the darkness of the tint exceeded the legal limit. Always check for any laws that might apply in your area and select appropriate tints for your vehicle.
- Change the VLT: You might wish to change out your tints for something with a different visible lighttransmission (VLT) percentage. Whether you find your tints too light or too dark, it would be a wise investment when you consider the importance of comfort in your driving experience.
- New look: Some people change their tints simply to have a new look for their cars and trucks. If you plan to give your vehicle a fresh paint job, you might decide that the existing tints will not suit the new look of the vehicle.
Removal Method One: Apply Steam
One of the most effective ways to remove a tint from a window is to use steam, which loosens up the adhesion and makes it possible to peel off the membrane. For the following method, you will need a manual upholstery steamer and a peeling razor. Once you get the tint removed from the window, you might need a cleaning solution and sponge to remove any lingering adhesive.
1. Crack Your Front-Seat Side Windows
With the door open, roll your driver-and passenger-side car windows down just a crack — roughly one-fourth inch should give you enough space to access the very top of the tint. Front-seat side windows are the easiest to learn because you can start from the top of the tint and work your way down. Tint removal should first be performed on these windows before you move to the back-seat side and rear windows. This way, you could have a better handle on the task and not risk damaging the defrost line on your rear window.
2. Steam the Windows: Outside First, Tint-Side Second
The best tool for this step is a clothing steamer. Take the steamer and run it back and forth slowly across the outside of your front-side windows at a distance of one or two inches. It is important to first heat the outside of the windows before you apply heat to the tint, as this will warm the glass and render the tint more pliable. After you do the back and forth, up and down motions to the outside of the wind for two minutes, repeat this step along the inside, directly in front of the tint at a distance of one or two inches. Be careful not to overheat the windows, as this could cause them to crack.
If you do not have an upholstery steamer, you could alternately use a clothing iron. However, an iron will not generally be as neat or effective and could potentially leave glue residue.
3. Loosen the Tint With a Razor
Take a razor and apply it to the edge of the tint along one of the upper corners of the inner driver-side window. Carefully work the razor between the heated tint and the glass pane. This should ply the tint loose and make it easier to peel away the tint. If you are unable to pick the edge of the tint, apply more heat to the window. Once you get the tint to peel away from the window, be careful to pull slowly, as this will make it easier to remove the tint in one piece. If you pull too fast, the tint might tear, leaving you with many strips of tint to peel away individually.
4. Reapply Steam and Continue Peeling
As you peel down the tint from one top corner to the center, pause for a moment to reapply heat in left and right motions across the window. This should render the tint more pliable as you resume peeling. As you continue to peel the tint, be sure to move at a slow pace. Try your best to keep the tint intact as you remove it from the windowpane, as this will make the process cleaner and easier. When you reapply heat, make sure to not point the steamer too close to your hand, as doing so could leave you with a burn.
5. Use Cleaner to Remove Adhesive
Once you have the tint fully removed from the window, you might see traces of adhesive residue on the glass. This can generally be removed with a diluted cleaning solution. Combine a 50/50 mix of water and commercial cleaner into a spray bottle and give it a good shake. Spray the solution across the inside of the pane and then scrub away the residue with a sponge. After you get all the lingering glue spots removed, wipe away any remaining cleaning solution with a paper towel. Use a microfiber cloth to clear away any cleaning solution across the door panel.
6. Repeat on the Remaining Windows
Now that you have the tint completely removed from the driver-side window of your vehicle, repeat the same steps on the passenger side. With that out of the way, repeat the same steps across the windshield and rear-side windows. While it might be difficult at first to get to the edge of the tint if the back windows cannot be cracked, the tint should still come loose with a proper application of heat across both sides of the pane. Ply the tint away with a razor and peel the strip off slowly. If necessary, reapply heat as you peel the tint down to the bottom. Repeat the cleaning steps with a sponge and the 50/50 mix of water and solution in a spray bottle.
7. Steam the Rear Window
To remove the tint on your rear window, you will only need to apply heat to the inside of the pane. However, you will need to apply heat from this one direction for significantly longer to warm the pane to a sufficient level. If possible, prop the steamer up to keep it evenly directed at the pane and tie the trigger to keep it running continuously for seven minutes. Close the doors of the vehicle to trap the steam inside as the steamer runs against the rear window.
Once you have the rear window sufficiently steamed, ply off the tint from one of the upper-edges and peel it down in slow motion. If the window is equipped with defrost lines, proceed with care so as not to damage the lines. If possible, remove or lower the rear seats for better access to the rear window. Once the tint is thoroughly removed, spray the solution across the glass to loosen any lingering glue residue and then wipe the spots away with a sponge.
Method Two: Apply Ammonia
Another powerful way to remove a window tint is with a concentrated application of ammonia, which can work its way through the membrane over the course of two hours. The following method is most effective on hot, sunny days. If you park the car directly in the sunlight, the rays and heat will cause the ammonia to activate faster and more effectively.
1. Cover the Door Panels
Before you apply ammonia to your window tints, you will need to cover all the surrounding components on your vehicle for protective purposes. Cover the door panels with tape and plastic sheeting. Do not use any paper products like gift wrap or newspaper, either of which could be saturated by the ammonia and rendered ineffective. To be on the safe side, apply covers to the seat and sensitive dashboard components, such as the electrical switches and speakers, to prevent exposure to any stray ammonia.
2. Make Window-Size Cutouts With Garbage Bags
Make cutouts in the shape of your car windows with black plastic garbage bags. On the driver-side window, hold the bag in front of the pane and trace the outline, then cut the plastic around the outline. Make sure that both sides of the bag are included in the cut, as this will give you two cutouts in one. You will use one cutout for the outside and the other for the inside of the window. Repeat this step on every window in the vehicle.
3. Apply Soapy Water and Plastic to the Outside
Spray soapy water to the outside of whichever window you select first, such as the driver-side window. The soapy water should consist of 3/4 water and 1/4 dish soap mixed together in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture onto the outside of the window and then apply the plastic cutout over the top. The soapy water should hold the plastic in place. The purpose here is to help insulate the windows with as much natural heat as possible while the ammonia takes effect on the tinted inner-pane. Black plastic is important for this purpose because black absorbs heat.
4. Apply Ammonia and Plastic to the Outside
Pour ammonia into a different empty spray bottle, and spray the chemical across the inside of the outer-covered window. Take the other plastic cutout and apply it to the inner pane. The ammonia should make the plastic stick to the glass. If the plastic slides, use masking tape to hold the cutout in place.
Repeat these steps on all the windows of your vehicle — soapy water and plastic on the outside; ammonia and plastic on the inside. Before you apply ammonia, make sure to don protective lenses, gloves and a nose mask to prevent the chemical from affecting your skin and lungs.
5. Let the Ammonia Sit for Two Hours
With the windows masked on both sides and the inner-panes covered with ammonia, walk away from the vehicle and do something else for two hours. During this time, the ammonia will work its way through the tint. Gradually, the adhesive should lose its hold and cause the tint to dislodge like a slippery membrane. The hotter the weather, the more effective this process should be on the tints of your windows. The car should be parked in a spot directly under the sunlight as you wait out these two hours.
6. Remove the Bags and Tint
After the two hours have passed, remove the plastic cutouts from the outer windows of the vehicle. Enter the driver-side of the vehicle and remove the plastic cutout from the inside window. Crack the window about half an inch, then ply away at the upper-corner of the tint with a razor. Slowly peel away the tint from the pane. Try to keep the tint in one piece as you clear it off the glass. Repeat these steps on the other windows in your vehicle.
7. Clear Away Adhesive Residue and Liquid
With the tints fully removed, wipe away any lingering adhesive on the panes with an ammonia-soaked sponge. Once all the glue spots are gone, use paper towels to remove any lingering liquid residue on the inside of the windows. Repeat that last step on the outside of the windows to remove any lingering traces of the soapy water. If necessary, give your vehicle a hosing or take it through a carwash. Once completed, enjoy the tint-free, newly clear windows of your vehicle.
How Much Does It Cost to Remove Window Tint?
The cost to remove tint is relatively low, especially if you go the DIY route and use the steam or ammonia method. Once the old tints are removed, your next set of tints should be strong and attractive. Moreover, the tints should be suited to the vehicle and compliant with local laws.
Get New Tints From Rvinyl
At Rvinyl, we sell tints made from various films for a range of vehicle makes and models. In addition to our window tints, we also sell tints for headlights and tail lights. Browse our catalog today to learn more about how our tints can transform the appearance and riding experience of your vehicle.