California Tint Law: 2 Important Types of Tinted Glasses and the Laws Guiding Tint Glasses

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tint law

The tint law mandates vehicle owners who decide to tint the windows of their vehicle to comply with certain rules.

What is a tinted film?

It is a thin film of adhesive polyester which sticks to the window of your vehicle (example: side windows, rear window, front and rear quarter panel, deflector, panoramic roof, etc.). Tint or darken car windows in practice consists of putting a film on them. The tinted films not only bring a sporty look to the car but also more privacy and comfort. Are you wondering if this option is however subject to legal constraints? Discover in our article the benefits and recommendations.

The Types Of Tinted Glass for Vehicle Windows

There are two types of glass for the side windows and they have different characteristics. There is tempered glass and laminated glass (often found on high-end vehicles).

Unlike tempered glass, laminated glass does not break into a thousand pieces if the glass breaks. It is also more resistant to shocks in the event of an accident. However, tempered glass is more economical and fits any budget.

However, some manufacturers offer a certain type of laminated glass called “heat-resistant glass”. It blocks the sun’s UV rays and the entry of hot air inside the vehicle, which helps stabilize the interior temperature during the summer.

The benefits of tinted windows

There are several reasons for the success of tinted windows:

Less heat and consumption: thanks to the tinted windows, the vehicle is better insulated from the heat in summer, which makes it possible to reduce the power of the air condition and therefore to consume less energy. A benefit for your wallet and the environment.

More driving pleasure: the sun’s rays sometimes dazzle you behind the wheel. If you opt for tinted windows, you enjoy more comfort and more safety.

For all passengers: this principle also applies to the people behind the vehicle. Babies or children sitting in a car seat are often disturbed by the heat and rays of the sun.

More privacy: don’t like to be watched when you stop at a red light? The blackout film on your car windows will quickly solve the problem. The curious will no longer see people or material goods inside. It’s also handy for deterring carjackers and malicious people.

More style: your car has a sporty and chic look. The tinted windows finally isolate UV rays, so that the interior does not fade.

The regulation of tint windows

Be aware, however, that you cannot install tint windows as you deem fit. Certain legal recommendations come into force and must be observed.

In California, films for tinting windows are very much authorized. They come within the framework of the Vehicle Code and are subject to the provisions of Vehicle Code – VEH Division 12. Equipment Of Vehicles [24000 – 28160]. The law does not specify the authorized or prohibited colors. No percentage of transparency is mentioned. The only precision given concerns visibility. Appropriate transparency is required. Tinted windows obstructing the view inside the vehicle and interfering with safe driving are prohibited. The concepts of opacity and transparency may seem blurry. In this article, we provide you with the explanations necessary to fully understand the different levels of film tints.

Fitting your vehicle with tinted windows generates a modification. However, the installation of such a film is not subject to a declaration to the prefecture. The California tint law does not prohibit tinting the windows of an automobile. However, putting a solar film on the windows, if it restricts or impairs visibility, is to be avoided. The field of vision must remain sufficient to the front, to the right, and the left.

The transparency of the windows must be satisfactory. In dark shades, a maximum of 88% opacity can be tolerated. Tinted windows should in no way interfere with driving. Windows that are too opaque (dark) can prevent certain maneuvers. There is another reason for this: that of visibility inside. The police must be able to clearly distinguish the people and objects in the vehicle. The law provides for a stipulated fine for glasses that are too dark.

Opacity and transparency: explanations

To talk about the tint of the windows, we use the terms, opacity, and transparency. We are talking about 5%, 10%, or 15% transparency. The closer the percentage is to 0, the darker the hue. Glass tinted at 5% transparency means it is 95% opaque. A window tinted at 95% transparency means that it is opaque at 5%.

The Vehicle Code stipulates that the windows must have sufficient transparency. This means that the tint should be light enough. The shade most accepted by law is the one with 10% transparency. The glass is very clear, the interior is visible and the driving is not impeded. A window tinted at 90% opacity may appear far too dark on tint simulators. However, it leaves a suitable field of vision for the driver and allows correct visibility from the outside.

Windshield tint

Never put a self-adhesive film or non-original coating on the front windshield. The blackout bands are however allowed on the provided windscreen to not exceed the size of the original visor (when folded against the windscreen).

Front side window tint

The state of California requires that aftermarket tinted film be installed on the front side windows to allow more than 88% of the light to enter. When the aftermarket tint is combined with factory tinted windows, the visible light transmission must be at least 70%.

The rear windshield and rear side windows tint

The rear side windows can also be tinted with a non-original film or coating.

California Tint Laws in Summary

  • 70% for front side windows
  • Any level for the rear window
  • 4 inches for Windshield
  • Reflectivity must not exceed that of a standard window
  • Colors such as amber, blue, and red are prohibited
  • Must install Double-sided mirror when using tint windows

How do I put the tinted film?

First of all, be sure to respect the manufacturer’s standards and the steps to correctly apply a solar film. Otherwise, it can generate streaks, bubbles and therefore lose visibility and safety when driving. Also, it can cause the side window to break.

How do I Remove a tinted Film?

Removing a solar film can be done alone. However, for safety and quality reasons, it is best to go to a professional. Failure to use one of them can cause car glass breakage, or even damage the interior of the vehicle. Worse still cause an accident (risk of cuts and/or injuries from the use of sharp tools).

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