Is It Legal To Tint The Outside Of Car Windows?

Tinting the outside of car windows involves applying a thin film to the glass. This film darkens the window, reducing glare and heat from the sun. It provides privacy and can also enhance the car’s appearance. Tinting is often done for comfort, safety, and aesthetic reasons.

When considering tinting your car windows, a common question arises: Is it legal to tint the outside of car windows? Laws vary by location, with specific rules about tint darkness and which windows can be tinted. It’s essential to check local regulations before applying tint to ensure compliance and avoid fines.  

Tinting car windows began as a luxury in the mid-20th century, primarily for privacy and comfort. Initially, it involved spraying or applying a tinted film directly onto the glass. Over time, the process evolved with better materials and techniques. How Dark Is Limo Tint? Today, window tinting is widely popular for its benefits in reducing glare, heat, and UV exposure.

Reasons Why You Should Not Tint On Outside Of Car Window

Tinting the outside of car windows, as opposed to the standard practice of applying tint to the inside, can lead to several issues and is generally not recommended for a variety of reasons. Here are some key points to consider.

Durability and Wear: Tint applied to the outside is more vulnerable to wear and tear. It’s exposed to the elements, including rain, snow, and harsh sunlight, which can cause the tint to peel, crack, or fade much faster than if it were applied inside.

Scratches and Damage: The outside of a car window is more susceptible to scratches from cleaning, debris from the road, and other external factors. Tint films are relatively delicate, and when applied on the outside, they can easily be damaged, leading to unsightly marks and the need for frequent replacements.

Reduced Effectiveness: One of the purposes of tinting is to provide UV protection and reduce heat and glare inside the vehicle. When applied on the outside, the tint’s effectiveness in blocking UV rays and heat can be significantly reduced due to direct exposure to the elements.

Legal Issues: In many places, there are specific legal requirements regarding the type and degree of tinting allowed on vehicle windows. Applying tint on the outside may not meet these legal standards, leading to potential fines and the need to remove or replace the tint.

Tips For A Perfect Car Window Tint Installation

Tips For A Perfect Car Window Tint Installation

Achieving a perfect car window tint installation is about precision, patience, and preparation. Here are five essential steps to ensure a smooth and successful tint application.

1. Choose the Right Tint Material

Quality Matters: Invest in high-quality tint film. Higher quality tints not only last longer but also provide better UV protection and appearance.

Know the Law: Understand the tinting laws in your area. Laws vary widely by region and dictate how dark your tint can be and on which windows.

2. Prepare Your Windows Thoroughly

Clean Meticulously: Ensure the windows are impeccably clean before you start. Any dust, dirt, or residue can create bubbles and imperfections in the tint. Use a quality window cleaner and a lint-free cloth to clean the glass.

Check for Defects: Inspect the window for any nicks or chips. Even small imperfections can lead to bigger issues once the tint is applied.

3. Measure and Cut Precisely

Measure Twice, Cut Once: Measure your window dimensions carefully and then add a few extra inches to each dimension when cutting your tint film. It’s easier to trim excess than to add missing inches.

Use the Right Tools: A sharp utility knife and a straight edge will give you the cleanest cuts. Avoid freehand cuts as they can lead to uneven edges.

4. Apply the Film Carefully

Wet Application: Lightly spray the window with a soapy water solution before applying the film. This allows you to slide and reposition the tint for a perfect fit.

Remove Air Bubbles: Use a squeegee to smooth out the film and push any air bubbles to the edges. Start from the center and work your way out for the best results.

5. Dry and Cure

Wait it Out: Once applied, the tint needs time to dry and cure. This process can take several days during which the window should remain closed.

Inspect and Touch Up: After the tint has dried, inspect it for any air bubbles or imperfections. If you find any, you can often fix them with a little heat (from something like a hairdryer) and your squeegee.

Tinted car windows are subject to varying legality depending on where you live. Most regions have specific laws dictating the maximum darkness (measured as VLT% – Visible Light Transmission) and reflectivity allowed, often differing for front and rear windows. 

Some places also restrict tinting on the windshield and front side windows. These regulations aim to balance privacy and security with safety and law enforcement needs. It’s crucial to check and adhere to local laws to ensure your vehicle’s window tinting is legal.

Is It Possible To Get Creases Out Of The Tint?

Is It Possible To Get Creases Out Of The Tint

Yes, it’s possible to remove creases from window tint, but the success largely depends on the severity and age of the crease. For minor creases, gently heating the area with a heat gun or hair dryer and then using a squeegee or credit card to smooth out the tint can be effective. 

However, for severe or old creases, the film may be permanently damaged and might require professional assistance or replacement. Always proceed with caution and use gentle heat to avoid damaging the tint or window.

What Are Laws About Tinting Your Car Windows?

Laws about tinting car windows vary widely by country and even by state or region within countries. Generally, they specify the minimum amount of light (Visible Light Transmission, or VLT%) that must pass through the windows, with different requirements often set for front, side, and rear windows. 

Some regions also regulate the reflectivity of the tint and prohibit certain colors. Laws may provide exemptions for medical reasons. It’s essential to consult local regulations to ensure compliance and avoid fines or the need to remove the tint.

Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Car Window Tints

Follow Legal Guidelines: Always adhere to your local tinting laws regarding the permissible Visible Light Transmission (VLT%) levels. Staying within legal limits not only ensures compliance but also maintains optimal visibility and safety.

Regular Maintenance: Clean your tinted windows regularly with a soft cloth and a mild, ammonia-free cleaner. Proper maintenance keeps the tints looking fresh and free from scratches, ensuring longevity and clarity.

Park Smartly: Whenever possible, park in shaded or covered areas. While high-quality tints offer UV protection and reduce heat, minimizing direct sunlight exposure can further protect your car’s interior and prolong the life of the tint.

Address Issues Promptly: If you notice bubbles, peeling, or discoloration, address these issues quickly. Small problems can lead to bigger ones if ignored. For repairs or replacements, consult a professional to ensure continued quality and compliance.

Regional Variations in Tinting Laws

Regional Variations in Tinting Laws

Tinting laws vary widely from one region to another. Some areas allow darker tints, while others have strict rules about the percentage of light that must pass through. These regulations often differ not just by country but down to the state or local level. For exterior tints, the lack of specific guidelines in many regions creates an additional layer of uncertainty.

Before considering any form of window tinting, it’s crucial to research and understand the specific laws in your area. This research should include not just the allowed VLT% but also any rules about colors, reflectivity, and the different requirements for each window on the vehicle.

Comparison of Interior vs. Exterior Tinting Regulations

AspectInterior TintingExterior Tinting
VLT% RegulationsWidely regulated with specific limitsOften undefined or more stringent
Durability ConcernsLess exposed, longer-lastingMore exposed, prone to damage
Safety StandardsGenerally acceptedPotential safety concerns
EnforcementStandard methodsMore complex, less established

When it comes to the legality of exterior tinting, there’s a grey area. Most existing laws focus on the tint’s Visible Light Transmission (VLT%) and reflectivity. These regulations are designed with the assumption that the tint is applied inside. For exterior tints, the laws might not be as clear-cut, leading to potential legal ambiguities.

In some cases, legal loopholes or exemptions might apply to window tinting. For example, certain medical conditions might warrant an exemption from standard tinting laws, allowing for darker tints. However, these exemptions usually come with strict requirements and documentation.

It’s unclear how these exemptions apply to exterior tints, if at all. Vehicle owners considering this route should consult with legal experts or local authorities to understand the potential implications and ensure they remain on the right side of the law.


Tinting the outside of car windows is generally not recommended due to durability, legal, and effectiveness issues. External tints are more susceptible to wear, damage, and reduced UV protection effectiveness. While tinting began as a luxury for privacy and comfort and has evolved with improved materials and techniques, applying tint on the exterior can lead to quicker degradation from environmental exposure and potential legal problems. 

Different regions have specific laws governing the type, degree, and location of tinting, emphasizing the need for compliance to avoid fines. For those considering tinting, understanding and adhering to local regulations is crucial, as is opting for quality materials and professional installation to ensure longevity and performance. Regular maintenance and smart parking can help maximize the benefits and lifespan of car window tints.


How does exterior tinting compare to interior tinting in terms of durability?

Exterior tints are less durable due to exposure to environmental factors.

Can exterior tints be scratched easily?

Yes, exterior tints are more susceptible to scratches from cleaning and debris.

Do exterior tints provide the same UV protection as interior tints?

Exterior tints do not offer the same level of UV protection, as they are directly exposed to the sun.

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