Nowadays most cars seem to have tinted windows, and with good reason: it's a well-established safety feature that also improves the aesthetic of any automobile. Yet as common as car window tinting has become, we're guessing most people aren't aware of all the fascinating little details behind the technology. With that in mind, here are seven quick and cool facts about tinting that you might not know.
- At-home car window tinting first became available to the public all the way back around World War II. These spray-on products tried to recreate the more costly tinting technology used by automotive glass manufacturers. Unfortunately, the results of these early products were messy and uneven, but without a better alternative, their use persisted into the 1960s.
- Starting in the 1950s, drag racers began installing colored Plexiglas in their "gasser" hot rods. This gave the cars a sweet appearance but didn't actually provide the same benefits as a true tint.
- Following those initial spray-on tinting creations, retail window film became increasingly available in the mid-60s. While a step up from the previous inventions, these early films were dye-based, and as a result, they tended to turn purple over time. As if that weren't bad enough, they were also notorious for bubbling in hot weather.
- In an effort to stop the "purple problem," the next generation of car and truck window tinting incorporated metallic particles with the dye. This did the trick of preventing discoloring, but had an unintended consequence: all that particulate metal on the windows could interfere with electronic devices. If you've ever had trouble using your cell phone or GPS unit, or even getting a good radio signal in a car with an older tint, this is why!
- We learned a lot from all of these early attempts, and today's tint technology is light years above everything that came before it. These modern products use nanotechnology for maximum protection from ultraviolet rays, play nice with all manner of electronic signals, offer unparalleled optical clarity, and are scratch-resistant. On top of all that, they are highly color stable, meaning they'll never turn purple.
- Car window tinting is legal in all fifty states, but each state has its own laws and regulations regarding how dark your tint can be. This is called a "visible light transmission percentage," or VLT for short, and each state's VLT requirements can be looked up online. The VLT allowances also vary depending on which windows are tinted, too—in Nebraska, front side windows must allow more than 35% of the visible light in, but the rear side windows and back windows can be as dark as 20%.
- The last thing that many people don't seem to realize about car window tinting is how fast and affordable the process has become. It takes only a few hours to have a tint professionally installed in your car, truck, or SUV. While the cost varies depending on your vehicle and the level of protection you require, you can expect to pay somewhere between $149 and $349 at Stereo West Autotoys in either Omaha or Elkorn, Nebraska.
Stereo West Autotoys is a national leader in all things automobile, but we're a local team above all else. Now that you know all the little known facts about car window tinting, come on in and let us answer the most important question of all: what tint is best for your ride?