For most of us, installing a sharp looking tint package is possibly the first thing we do after buying a new car or even second-hand car but it's also the first mistake many car owners make.
This is because, for most consumers, it's easy to get muddled up with the technicalities of window tinting films. Think about it: even changing your tires is easier.
Jargon such as film thickness, Visible Light Transmission (VLT) and UV protection are commonly thrown around, not to mention the plethora of brands promising the same thing but with huge variation in prices. It can be a bit unnerving (picking the right tint package) even for someone with a reasonably good understanding of cars.
Regardless of whether you own a family hatchback or an executive vehicle, it's important to understand these simple tips the next time you are looking at tinting your car.
Under the watch of former Malaysian transport minister Anthony Loke, who changed the legality of minimum visible light transmission (VLT), Malaysians were allowed to tint their vehicle with 70% VLT at the front windscreen, 50% VLT on the front two windows, and go as dark as you want on the rear windows.
This created some controversy as some commented that technically, people could go ask dark as they wanted and create a panel vehicle (like those commercial vehicles with no windows at the rear of their automobiles). To add on to the controversy, private vehicle owners could go completely dark at the front too, and all they had to do was apply for it, which would incur some costs. It was set this way to help people with medical conditions, but we all know some VIPs who took advantage of this situation.
How dark is too dark?
Darker tints means cooler cabin: this is a common misconception peddled by shady tint installers to try and make a quick buck. Darker coloured tints don't necessarily offer better heat and UV rejection. The effectiveness of any tint is dependent on the properties and construction of the film layer(s) and not the colour of the tint itself. In some cases, a darker tint will even attract more heat – compounding the problem.
Heat rejection properties are more important than the physical appearance of the tint. Drivers also need to strike a good balance between outward visibility and darkness of the tint. A darker tint might appear fine in the day, but not at night. Dark tints can make even simple act of parking in the rain at night unnecessarily difficult, because even reverse cameras won't be of much help in the rain.
As a general rule of thumb, tints for the front windows and windscreen should have a VLT of no less than 50%, while the ones for the rear should not go below 30%.
Understanding security tints
You might have seen promotional videos of security tints that can secure a window when repeatedly smashed with a baseball bat. Such tints don't exist. What was done was that the installer had layered multiple layers of film onto the window. This is not feasible for your car as doing so will distort the outward view and the increased thickness adds stress to the car's power window regulator. In other words, it is not possible for the security film installed on your car to perform like the demonstration you saw.
Security films merely make it harder to break the glass but it doesn't make it unbreakable. The only unbreakable windows are bulletproof ones used by armoured vehicles, and those windows can't be wound down.
Different tints for different needs
Not all car windows are the same, thus there isn't one solution for every car. For instance, the windscreen of a Toyota Vios and a Mercedes-Benz S-Class will have widely varying features in terms of construction, thickness, factory coating, and acoustic properties.
Contrary to what many tint shop dealers are promoting, there is no perfect tint. Different films have different properties, each with their own pros and cons - hence why premium tinting films come in so many varieties. A good window tinting service provider will first seek to understand your needs and the type of vehicle you are using, rather than pushing the same tinting product to every customer.
Warranty and quality
Do you know where the tinting/security film that you are purchasing comes from? Just because the film says Brand X, it doesn't mean that it is manufactured and guaranteed by Brand X. Many tinting film brands are merely just that - a generic OEM brand stamped on a generic film purchased from a generic supplier.
While OEM products are common on all consumer products today, tints manufactured in-house typically have a higher quality. Of course, these higher-quality films cost more. Enquire also about the terms and conditions of the warranty, not just the period of coverage.
From our observation, cheap tints are usually really dark film tints, and the colour of these tints are not really black. They typically have some green hue to it, which makes them look off. Expensive tints do not need to be very dark to be effective, and the colour of the film is that nice crisp black colour with no green or blue hue. They just look classier and work to keep the cabin cool without the need of making the windows very dark.
We hope you're a little more informed after this about tints which should make you harder to cheat the next time you're in the market for a tint. Forearmed is forewarned after all.