Window tinting: best practices, legal limits and more

Well, well, well, would you believe it that there are actually various different degrees to which you can tint your car windows.

If your car doesn’t already have a window tint and you fancy one, here’s everything you need to know about window tinting percentages!

Why tint your windows

These days, modern cars generally tend to come with slightly tinted windows as a standard feature, which is great. But, there is the odd one or two that fancy something a little more classy and wants their windows that tad bit darker.

This may be because the owner wants to:

  • Help keep the car cool
  • Cut out any harmful rays
  • Privacy and safety
  • To look glamorous

The next question is though, by what percentage would you want them tinted?

There are so many different options when it comes to tinting your windows and the percentages that were about to walk you through referring to visible light transmission (VLT), which is the amount of visible light that can get through the windows. Basically, the lower the percentage, the darker the tint will be.

Fifty-percent tint

If you like being in the dark and you’re looking for complete darkness, then this 50% is the one you want. Blocking half of the light coming into your car is boss for keeping out the heat and UV rays. Helping to reduce glare and eye strain too, this tint makes driving that little bit safer we think.

Thirty-five percent tint

With this one, you’ll still be able to see through it, but it's definitely darker and will create that smooth stylish look on your windows.

Twenty percent tint

If you’re worried about privacy and let’s face it, most of us are these days, then a 20% tint could be the one for you. Although you can see through it from the outside if you get up close, it's pretty difficult. This percentage of window tint should be enough to put your snoopers and any potential criminals off.

It's worth noting too that most cars that come with window tint already built-in, tends to be in this 15-20% range.

Five percent tint

We’ve gone from top to bottom, with the bottom one, this 5% being extremely dark, meaning that you can barely see through it at all. This percentage is actually illegal in some places but it is the one that’s most commonly used on limousines.

Common phrases

Before you go tinting all your windows because you like living in the dark, we thought it would be a good idea to get you familiar with the definitions that you might come across.

One term that you might find yourself referring to is the “front0side windows”, and this refers to the passenger and driver’s side window, but not the windshield.

The “rear-side windows” are any side windows that are behind the front ones. Although your windshield won’t be tinted, there is actually a shade band, which is basically a film that comes down on the top of your windshield.

If you hear the term “tint reflection”, then this will be when talking about a reflective window film, often metallic films normally. Your ears might pop up when they hear “restricted colours”, which basically just means that colour tints are illegal.

That brings us nicely onto the UK’s window tinting laws and what they say.

Window tinting laws

Once you’ve decided which car window tint percentage is for you, the next thing to consider is the laws. What are the laws saying about the maximum window tint percentage that is allowed here in the UK?

Here’s a rundown of the laws you need to be aware of:

  • You must not drive with excessively tinted side or front windows. If you do, then your car could become illegal. If your windows are like this, then you could potentially invalidate your insurance, and it's not worth it.
  • Your rear windows are safe from these laws. The tinting laws do not apply to these rear ones.
  • Tinting companies are not allowed to offer parts that could cause your car to not comply with Construction and Use Regulations. Interesting.
  • You should check the above Regulations before selling your car to make sure that you’re not passing it on with an illegal tint percentage.

Which windows in your car are affected by the law?

Listen carefully. We want you to tint your windows and follow the tinting rules to the letter of the law, so this is what windows you need to focus on.

You’ll find that certain laws apply to the front windows and windscreen, while no laws apply to tint fitted on the rear windows and rear windscreen.

The law above is concerned with your visibility of course. Limited visibility is a problem and no one wants that, especially when your driving at night or in the dark. If your tint is too dark, then you won’t be able to see other road users or pedestrians, which could lead to real dangerous hazards or even accidents.

The Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 specifies the minimum level of light that must pass through the windscreen and front side windows.

What are the limits I hear you ask? Well according to Motor Vehicles first used before 1 April 1985, the windscreen and front side windows must allow at least 70% of light to be transmitted through them.

The Motor Vehicles first used on or after1 April 1985, continues with the light transmitted through the windscreen must be at least 75%. The front side windows must allow at least 70% of light to be transmitted through them.

If you stick to these rules and follow these guidelines, we’re sure that you’ll be fine and will have nothing to worry about.

Other considerations

If for whatever reason you find that your tinted window is actually over the tinted limit and are in fact illegal, whatever you do, don’t sell this on like this. If you do, then you could be prosecuted by either Trading Standards or the police.

One thing that many people won’t even think to do when they tint the car windows is notified their insurance company of this change to their car. This is considered to be a vehicle modification and has the potential to affect any future claims if any were to be made.

Think about it, accidents that come about due to bad visibility or low light, etc, where window tint is involved, then it may be that your window tint could be to blame for this due to careless driving. Your best bet is to make sure that you tint your windows in line with the law so that your back is covered.

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