If you’re like most Americans, you’d do a lot to make your ride more comfortable. Because we spend an average of 52.2 minutes per day commuting to and from work, it’s important to make the most of that time!
That’s where car window tint comes in. This simple film can block glare, lower indoor temperatures, increase privacy, and much more. In other words, getting window tint may feel like a no-brainer!
Of course, actually choosing the right percentage may feel anything but simple. How do you know how dark your windows should be, and which tints are illegal in the state of Ohio? If your car comes with tinted windows, how do you decide how much further to tint them?
We’ve got you covered. For answers to all of these questions and more, check out our guide to tint percentages below.
The Basics of VLT
Before we dive into car window tint percentages, there’s one term you’ll need to know. VLT, or “visible light transmission,” is what we use to help measure the darkness of a window tint.
VLT refers to the percentage of visible light that can pass through a window.
This means that using a window film with a VLT of 20% will allow only 20% of sunlight to pass through. It blocks 80% of all light. This makes for a dark and private car interior, where a VLT of 70% would let 70% of the sunlight through, leaving a much brighter space within your car.
Knowing Your Current VLT
When you’re buying car window tint, another common mistake is to assume that you’re starting from scratch with your current windows.
However, modern car manufacturers never create perfectly clear windows with a 100% VLT. Instead, the factory tint of most cars will hover at around 75-80% VLT.
You don’t need to know your car’s exact VLT before getting an aftermarket tint, but it can help. Some vehicle manufacturers provide this information in their literature. If not, your tint installer can use a tint meter to find the exact percentage.
It’s also important to know how an aftermarket tint will affect the look of your ride. To figure out how much light your factory tint and your window film will let in when combined, you’ll multiply their VLTs together and make it a percentage.
For example, let’s say your factory tint is 75% and you want to install a window film with a VLT of 20%. You’ll multiply 75% x 20%, which gives you a final approximate tint of 15%, a very dark tint.
Common Window Tint Options
Though the possible VLT percentages range from 0-100%, most manufacturers only offer a limited range. If you’ve already started shopping around for window tints, you may already know that there are a few standard percentages you can choose from.
In most cases, you’ll find tint percentages of 50%, 35%, 20%, and 5%. However, some manufacturers will offer other options if you want something different. This can be helpful if you’re trying to match the specific factory tint of your car, for example.
Note that not all of the tint percentages we’ve listed are legal in the state of Ohio, which we’ll discuss below.
It’s also worth noting that not all auto window tints are black. The vast majority of car owners prefer a dark black tint, but it’s also possible to get colored tints if you prefer.
When you seek out these tints, you’ll find that they include both their color and the VLT. For example, you might see a VLT of “blue 50.”
Window Tinting Laws
As you may already know, most states have specific laws around which window tint percentages are acceptable. Most areas prohibit drivers from using tints so dark that it’s impossible to see the driver and passengers.
Ohio’s state laws have specific regulations for different windows of the car.
It’s illegal to have a VLT of less than 70% on the windshield and less than 50% on the front driver and passenger windows of your car. There’s some room for error here, as it’s possible to have a VLT difference of plus or minus three percent. For the other windows in your car, you can use any VLT.
Note that Ohio laws don’t allow red or yellow window tints at all, regardless of their VLT. In addition, you can’t use any reflectorized materials on your windows.
Keep in mind that there may be some exceptions to these rules. For example, drivers who have certain skin conditions, such as albinism or systemic lupus, are often allowed to get darker window tints. However, you will need to work with your doctor and file the appropriate documentation before you get your windows tinted darker.
As you make a decision about your chosen window tint, don’t forget to consider the regulations in other states where you’ll be driving. If you plan on taking frequent road trips to friends in other states, for example, or if you travel for work, you’ll want to make sure your chosen VLT follows the laws in those areas as well.
If you’re worried about sticking to the complex laws in Ohio or any other state, an experienced tint installer can help. Let them know where you live and plan to travel before your installation.
Lighter or Darker Tint?
Now that we’ve gotten the basic definitions and regulations out of the way, it’s time to touch on a big question: how dark do you want to go? For most drivers, this is one of the most important factors in their decision.
Lighter tints are more likely to be legal in all areas where you drive, and they still provide a great deal of light-blocking technology. Many of our customers, however are surprised at how light even a 50% VLT can be. To help with the decision, provide several examples in our product showroom and usually have a few examples of actual vehicles with VLT variations.
We always recommend lighter tint on Windshields, which will still offer the same benefits as darker films. they’ll block glare and stop the sun’s UV rays, but still provide good visibility at night in the rain.
Your Car’s Appearance
For some drivers, the appearance of their ride is the biggest factor in their decision. Window tints can create a sleek, luxury aesthetic that turns heads.
Whether you have a classic car or you want to add style to your ride, dark black tints have become a major trend in recent years. Deciding on your chosen darkness is up to personal preference, but your installer can help you understand what the change will look like before you adhere a film to your ride.
If you want to protect your health and the health of your passengers, window films can help.
In terms of your skin, a quality tint will block up to 99% of the sun’s harmful UV rays. It’s no surprise that the Skin Cancer Foundation advocates for window tint use! If you spend a lot of time driving, a window tint may literally save your skin.
This is especially true if you or any of your passengers have skin conditions that make you more sensitive to sunlight.
In terms of your eyesight, window tint is just as important. Window films allow you to enjoy the sunlight without exposing your eyes to sun damage. In addition, darker films can block even more of a glare than lighter films will, further protecting your eyes.
Note that while quality window films will block the majority of sunlight, not all budget films will. This is why it’s crucial to work with an experienced installer that carries certified window film brands.
Enhanced Privacy and Security
For drivers with privacy and security concerns, choosing the right window tint can help.
Window tints make it difficult for people to see into your car. Even a higher VLT can add a sense of privacy to your ride, but darker tints can offer true privacy for those who need it.
In terms of security, this added privacy can be a major factor as well. Because it’s more difficult for others to see inside your car, potential thieves won’t be able to get a glimpse of your belongings. This can make break-ins less of a threat: thieves are less likely to try stealing when they don’t know if a car’s contents are worth it.
While milder tints will help with this, darker tints can make it almost impossible for bystanders to look inside your car.
In addition, window tints make a potential break-in a bit more difficult. While these films won’t keep your windows from breaking, they hold the glass together for longer than the window would stand up to blunt force on its own. Those extra few moments can sometimes deter thieves who weren’t expecting to work so hard, or those who were hoping for a quick smash-and-grab theft.
Trust Us With Your Window Tint
Ready to make the most of your window tint (hyperlink to our window tint page)? Our team is here to help.
Whether you’re on the fence about two different shades or you’re not sure where to start, we can help you find the right tint percentage for your ride. Our expert installers will guide you to the quality brands you need while performing a superior installation for long-term performance. To learn more, contact us today or reach out for a free quote.