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Do Window Tints Go on the Inside or Outside of a Car?

Do Window Tints Go on the Inside or Outside

In most cases, window tints go on the inside window of a car.

There are many benefits to getting your windows tinted.


I like my privacy when I’m driving. Call me anti-social or paranoid, but I don’t like feeling like I’m in a fish bowel when I’m cruising down the road.

If you’re new to automotive tinting, you likely have some questions. Like, does the tint go on the inside or outside of a car? This is important to get right if you want your tint to last a long time.

You also want to ensure that it’s done legally because you can absolutely get a ticket for window tinting that’s too dark – just ask Stradman.

Window Tint Applies a Thin Laminate Film to a Car’s Glass to Make It Darker

Volkswagen Passat CC with rear window tinting.

Besides privacy, there are other benefits to window tinting. Most obviously to keep heat out.

Wherever light is allowed to shine, there’s going to be heat which can make driving or spending time in your vehicle uncomfortable.

Although the standard glass used in the production of vehicles can block some UV radiation. Window tinting also provides protection from many types of ultraviolet (UV) rays – even the ones that can cause skin cancer.

Tinting your windows can also protect your interior from sun damage which is one of the reasons why you see tinted windows on luxury cars and other upmarket vehicles.

What’s the Point of Window Tint?

A black Porsche 911 with window tinting.

image source:

Window tinting was developed to reduce the amount of light and heat that can intrude into a vehicle.

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Applying window tint to the inside of a car’s window protects it from dirt and damage to help it last longer.

But while window tint is typically applied to the interior of a car’s window to protect it from elements like all the dirt, grime and weather that can destroy it. Window tint can sometimes be applied to the exterior of the window.

Applying Tint to the Inside

Window tint professional applying tint to the inside of a vehicle.

Automotive window tint is often applied to the inside of a window. It often comes as a role on a tube.

Professionals start by doing all the prep work which involves shrinking, cutting, shaping and sizing on the outside of the window before the tint is applied to the inside.

Why shape the window tint on the outside of the window instead of the inside?

Because the outside of the window provides a much flatter surface on which to work.

A heat gun is used to shrink and shape the tint to the shape and size of the glass. Then it’s installed inside the vehicle.

Applying Tint to the Outside

Window tinting professional applying window tint to the outside of a vehicle with a heat gun.

Although tint is usually applied to the inside of a window, it is possible to put window tint on the outside. But this exposes it to the elements and UV rays from the sun which will cause it to degrade very quickly.

Not only that but heat from the sun will cause bubbles in the tint. But this can also happen even when you apply tint to the inside of your car.

Regardless of the application, remember that automotive glass is designed to absorb most of the effects of the sun which helps prolong the life of window tint.

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Did You Know That There Are Different Levels of Window Tint?

Different percentages of tint with 10% being the darkest and 60% being the lightest.

image source: ExclusiveAutoSounds

There are different levels of window tint which can affect the amount of light allowed to enter your vehicle – this is called variable light transmission (VLT).

These different levels of tint film are demarcated in percentages. The most standard options are 5%, 20%, 35% and even 60% with 10% or less being darker than 60%. While these options are noticeably dark, they’re not overly dark.

However, every state has its own regulations when it comes to how dark your window tint can be. You’ll want to check with your local laws before applying window tint to your vehicle.

Getting Window Tint Doesn’t Mean You Always Have to Go Dark

A Tesla Model 3 with a transparent window tint.

image source: JaysDetail

Understandably, some people don’t like window tint because they feel it makes it hard to see out of their car when driving, especially at night.

An alternative to dark film is clear and transparent versions like 3M’s Crystalline Series.

3M says that its clear window covering is a type of nanotechnology consisting of 200 layers of optical film stacked into a coating that’s actually thinner than a Post-It note.

They go on to claim that the Crystalline Series can reject up to 60% solar energy and 97% of heat produced by infrared rays. And it can block up to 99% UV radiation with an SPF protection of 1000.

Applying Tint on Your Own

Man applying window tint to the rear windshield of a car.

Can you apply window tint on your own?

Of course.

Should you apply window tint on your own?

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That’s debatable. While it can be done. I don’t recommend it.

From what I’ve seen not everyone is good at laying down tint – there’s a certain art to it that takes mastery to perfect.

Watching a professional expertly apply window tint can stoke anyone to believe they’ve got what it takes for the job.

Unless you’re willing to spend the money on supplies and hours perfecting the craft, which requires lots and lots of patience. It’s a job better left to a professional that can guarantee his or her work.