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The pros and cons of window tinting

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Updated 11 Oct 2019Rachel White
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To tint or not to tint? That is the question. We are told there are some beneficial reasons to window tint, but is that true or is window tinting just another car add-on that offers no real benefit?

There are plenty of claimed advantages and one obvious change that tint will bring to your car is in its appearance. Whether the aesthetic appeal of darker windows is a ‘benefit’ or not is totally subjective, of course - you either like it or you don’t - but there’s little doubt that darkened windows will provide a modicum of privacy and added security.

Other claimed advantages of tint include the blocking of harmful UV rays, reduced solar heat and decreased fading of a vehicle’s interior. We’ll look a bit closer at those but here are the common pros and cons most often associated with window tinting:

Pros

  • Reduced fading
  • Block harmful UV rays
  • Solar heat reduction
  • Shattered glass protection
  • Privacy
  • Security

Apparently, it is true that window tint will protect your car’s interior from around 99% of UV light. Car interior fade and fabric bleaching is attributed to UV light (by up to 40%) as well as visible light and solar heat. All of these factors are reduced when applying a window tint and your interior will look better for longer and feel cooler.

You won’t need reminding of the perils of being exposed to the sun for too long in this country. Australia and New Zealand have, according to Cancer Council Australia, the world’s highest incidence rate for melanoma - the type of skin cancer which usually occurs on parts of the body overexposed to the sun.

The Cancer Council also says, ‘Clear or tinted films and window covers on the side and rear windows of vehicles can provide protection by substantially reducing the amount of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation that is transmitted through glass’.

Having said that, the organisation goes on to say: ‘Cancer Council Australia recommends that people who spend long periods of time in a vehicle use a combination of sun protection measures, such as a long sleeved shirt with a collar, sunglasses and sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher. This will ensure occupants are protected both in the vehicle and when they leave it’.

Conclusion? Tint is good, but you should cover up too. You can click here for more from Cancer Council Australia

Safety comes into play with tint too. Tinting means applying an extra layer onto the glass and this can offer some strengthening qualities, meaning if the glass is hit by an object it is less likely to shatter. Another potential safety benefit is, as touched on earlier, extra security. Tint makes it more difficult to see inside the vehicle, which is good if you want a bit of personal privacy but it also adds a layer of security against potential thieves who won’t be able to see items in the car they might otherwise consider stealing.

WINDOW TINTING - use a professional

Con’s

  • May reduce vehicle value
  • If you don’t like it, the tint will need to be removed
  • Can get damaged
  • Reduces driver visibility
  • If a window breaks, you need to find the exact replacement tint
  • Too dark is illegal
  • Environmental biodegradability

When selling a vehicle your window tint of choice may deter potential buyers. It is harder to remove tint than it is to tint on a clean slate.

A good tint will also be durable. However, there are times when a window may be scratched or damaged. If this happens, the tint will need to be removed and replaced with the exact same tint. That is unless you don’t mind the windows not matching.

Another potential problem is visibility at night. Dark window tint, like a pair of sunglasses, reduces glare and the effect of bright sunlight. This is all well and good during the day but at night the effect remains and might become a safety issue. Regulations regarding tint exist for this reason.

Window tinting laws
The level of darkness is measured in visible light transmission (VLT). This is because the darker the tint, the harder it is to see out of the vehicle, especially in poor weather conditions or in the dark. If your vehicle tint is under the VLT limits it is illegal and should be removed. On Australian passenger cars - as of August 2019 - VLT restrictions are:

NT: 75% windscreen, 35% front side, 15% rear of the driver
QLD: 75% windscreen, 35% front side, 20% rear of the driver for QLD
WA: 70-75% windscreen, 35% front side, 20% rear of the driver for WA
NSW, ACT, VIC, TAS & SA: 70% windscreen, 35% front side, 20% rear of the driver

The rules are similar across Australia but not identical. If you plan on tinting your windows and then move interstate, there could be some issues with registering a vehicle.

The main consideration here though is the reduced visibility that window tinting can create. There is an alternative option. Window tint doesn’t have to be dark to reap some of the benefits and there are clear film options that provide some of the same advantages - blocking UV rays, for example - as dark tint.

Are you wondering about windscreens? Only 10% of the top of a windscreen is allowed to have a sunshade tint applied. Windscreen glass is different from the tempered glass found on the sides of vehicles. A windscreen is made of two panes of glass with a plastic film in between them. Due to the windscreen construction, it already blocks around 98% of UVA radiation.

To tint or not to tint? It comes down to personal preference but if you are going to tint, make sure quality film is used and the work is done by a professional. And do your homework too. Tint can be removed but its best to make sure you’re going to like the look of it before it’s applied. A good tint should last the life of the vehicle, so get it right the first time.

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Written ByRachel White

Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars.

This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.