Did you know that about a fifth of the U.S. population is at risk of developing skin cancer? Indeed, an estimated 9,500 Americans get diagnosed with this disease daily.
Prolonged ultraviolet ray exposure, in turn, is the primary culprit behind skin cancer. It also accounts for up to 40% of fading damage on furnishings.
That’s enough reason to consider investing in auto window tint films. After all, they can block solar UV, light, and heat. Plus, they also boost privacy.
However, it pays to learn more about window tint percentage before you darken up your car windows. Otherwise, you might end up with illegally tinted windows.
To that end, we created this guide on window tinting percentages. Read on to discover the most crucial factors to consider.
Table of Contents
Visible Light Transmittance (VLT)
VLT, expressed in percentage, is a measurement of visible light an object lets through. The higher the number, the more light it transmits. Conversely, the lower the rate, the less light it allows to pass.
In essence, darker types of auto window tint films have lower VLT percentages. By contrast, the lighter ones have higher VLT rates.
Your State’s Specific VLT Laws
In the U.S., almost all states restrict percentages for car window tint films. They often refer to these restrictions as the “minimum visible light transmittance.”
The minimum VLT varies across states; some permit quite the dark tints, while others aren’t so lax.
Let’s use New Mexico as an example, which allows tint films to have a minimum VLT of 20%. That means you can use films that only allow 20% of light while blocking the rest of the 80%. You can do that for all car windows except for the windshield.
By contrast, California’s legal minimum VLT is 88%. That means the films should, at the very least, allow 88% of light in and block only 12%. Therefore, you can expect such types of car tint to be much lighter.
Then, there’s Michigan, the only state without a VLT law but has laws on the tint’s placement. Here you can only tint the top 4 inches of the windshield and front side windows. Fortunately, you can darken the entire surface area of your rear windows as much as you want.
It’s vital to know and follow your state’s window tinting laws; otherwise, you can face fines. You may get ticketed, fined, and ordered to remove the illegal tint. A second offense can result in an infraction and a higher penalty of more or less $200.
Your State’s Medical Exceptions
Do you want to tint your car windows because of a light-related health condition? For instance, perhaps you have albinism, dermatomyositis, lupus erythematosus, photophobia, or xeroderma. In that case, your state may allow you to apply darker tints, as light exposure can worsen these problems.
However, you must first apply for a window tint medical exemption. A state-licensed doctor must fill it out, sign it, and certify that tinting is a medical necessity for you. Moreover, your physician may specify a VLT percentage recommendation, depending on your state.
After that, you can send the application to your state’s department of motor vehicles. You then have to wait for the DMV’s approval of your request.
Once approved, you can show the DMV permit to your chosen car window tinting service. That way, they can install films as dark as your permit allows.
Also, ensure that your DMV-approved medical exemption permit is always in your car. Otherwise, you may get fined if you get stopped by the police and can’t show any documentation to them.
Your Other Reasons for Tinting
Let’s say your chief reason for wanting to tint your car windows is UV safety, but you don’t have a medical condition. At the same time, you want to keep your car interiors as cool as possible, especially in the summer.
In that case, you can choose a tinting percentage as dark as your state laws allow. Alternatively, you can get quality ceramic tints with the same benefits but aren’t as dark. They have lighter colors but reject the same amount of solar UV and heat as the darker ones.
If you still want your tints to have a lower VLT, ensure your vision is up for it. That’s especially crucial if you do a lot of night driving and have myopia or nearsightedness. This eye error, which around one in four people worldwide has, can also cause night blindness.
So if you have myopia, it may be best to stick to car window tint films with a 50% VLT yet blocks over 99% of UV rays. Most of these high-quality products also offer exceptional heat rejection properties.
Your Car’s Exterior
Darker films often look incredible on neutral-colored (i.e., white, black, gray, dark blue, etc.) cars. Likewise, tints with a higher VLT percentage look fantastic on these vehicles.
But if you have a neon-colored vehicle, then darker films may not look as great on it. Lighter tints may work better on such bold and vibrant car body colors.
If you want a better visualization of how your car would look with tinted windows, use an online film viewer. Most reliable car window tinting services have such tools on their websites.
Film viewers allow you to pick a vehicle type (i.e., sedan, SUV, or truck) and, sometimes, even the color. They also let you choose varying VLT percentages for all windows, ranging from light to dark. Many of these tools also give you a digital rendition of what tinted windows look like from inside a car.
Choose the Right Window Tint Percentage
And there you have it, your guide on choosing a car window tint percentage. Now you know the most crucial factor is your state’s laws on the minimum VLT. However, you also learned you might be able to get darker tints with medical exemptions.
After those two, you can base your final decision on your preferences and your car’s exteriors. But if you need more help, you can always ask your local tinting experts.
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