Window tint is almost an essential in Colorado, especially here in Colorado Springs. With the elevation, and thus closer proximity to the sun, we need to protect the interior of our vehicles, including ourselves. So, what are some things you must know as a novice shopper looking for window tint?
The first thing you need to know is that there are 3 major types of window tinting options. Dyed film, Carbon film and Nano Ceramic film. Dyed films are typically the stuff you can pick up at AutoZone or similar for around $20-$30. Ever wonder why it's so cheap? If the price in it of itself didn't indicate this to you, the quality is sub-par. Have you seen a car driving around with purple tint? 99% of the time, that's not intentional. It happens because dyed films have a high propensity for changing color, fading, chipping, cracking, peeling etc. They fail prematurely all the time. It's a waste of time and money. Stay away from cheap tint jobs. This is what you are paying for. The word Premium gets thrown around a lot, even on dyed films. Premium and dyed films should never be in the same sentence. Buyer beware. This is really just a privacy tint; it doesn't serve much purpose other than to be easy on the wallet, initially. $99 tint jobs are this quality. I say it's initially easy on the wallet because while it's cheap to have done, you will see it bubble crack peel and fade pretty quickly and you'll want to have it redone. Tint, especially cheap tint is a pain to remove. The $99 you paid to have installed, will be roughly the cost to have it removed.
Carbon films are the industry standard here at J9's Luxury Auto Detailing and most other reputable shops. But you should always clarify what films are being used before agreeing to install. Carbon films are made up of carbon particles mixed into the film itself. It's a step up from metalized films which can interfere with cell phone reception. Carbon adds a bit more to its benefits however, like how it has some ability to reject heat and UV protection. It's mostly known for being a durable and color stable film at an affordable price.
Nano Ceramic tints are the holy grail of window films. The film itself is infused with nano particulates which is exceptional at heat rejection, UV protection, sun glare and clarity. In Colorado, you will feel a huge difference in how much cooler your vehicle is even after sitting in direct sunlight. Additionally, this helps protect the interior of your vehicle like your leather seats from premature aging, cracking and peeling.
So now you know what the difference are between the 3 major classes of window tint but what else should you know about?
A shop that charges differently for different percentages seems fishy to me. The cost to buy doesn't change. But there is some liability as the shop owner if we install illegal tint. If you are in Colorado, the state minimum is 27%. If you've done any research, you will find that percentage is nonexistent. We do install down to 1% (limo) tint at the buyer's discretion. No shop will warranty tint that is out of bounds on legality so just be aware of that when you do purchase film. You probably will have to sign a waiver acknowledging that, if you get pulled over it's your responsibility to pay that ticket and pay to have it removed should you so choose.
What else should you be wary of when looking to purchase window tinting? Mobile tint is convenient, but quality will suffer. For a tint job to look good, it needs to be installed in a controlled environment. No moving air, a glass board, a machine to cut the film. None of these are mobile friendly, which means you will get what you get. Contaminants are guaranteed to happen which look like hundreds of tiny bubbles in the film that never come out. Since you can't tote around a giant plotter machine to cut, it means it'll be hand cut; rough edges and much harder to install. So always opt to go to a shop over mobile.
Something to be aware of; since no tint shop operates out of a clean room, contamination is probable. We allow up to 5 bubbles per window. Now that may sound like a lot, but remember these bubbles are the size of pencil heads. They are usually very hard to see, and most consumers like yourself won't hardly notice them if at all. Perfection is impossible in every industry; tint is no different.
Let's recap. The 5 questions you need to ask.
1.What film is being installed? (brand and type - dyed, carbon or ceramic)
2. What percentage is legal in my state? (CO is 27% which is nonexistent)
3. Do you warranty your work? (You want at least a 2 year, if it doesn't fail within 2 years it should be good for life)
4. Are you mobile or have a shop (Remember you want this service performed in shop)
5. How much is it? (Low end carbon on a sedan is between $200-250 and ceramic low end is $300-350. You get what you pay for so don't cheat yourself. on price alone. Brand, reputation are all things worth paying a little more for.)
Pricing can vary widely on a few factors; brand of product being installed, labor cost, shop expenses, experience level, reputation. Obviously brands like 3M come with a higher ticket price because it's a nationally recognized brand, there are a lot of other reputable brands out there that aren't as expensive but still good quality. Geoshield and Flexfilm are some of my highest recommend mid-high tier brands. Stay away from stuff you can buy online as a consumer. Those are always low quality. See if you can buy it on eBay or Amazon and then don't use that installer. If you don't need an account to purchase the film, it's not something you want installed on your vehicle. Unless quality means nothing to you of course.