Best Car Window Tints For 2021

Lexen Best Car Window Tints For 2021
Lexen Best Car Window Tints For 2021Lexen

The sun is not always your friend when driving. It can create glare for the driver and passengers. Its UV radiation will gradually deteriorate interior materials, and it can contribute to skin aging and skin cancer. And it can heat up your vehicle like a greenhouse, sometimes beyond what your A/C system can battle. Tinting your car’s windows, however, helps reduce all of those problems, and it gives you more privacy when cruising in your sanctum. Window tint film is relatively inexpensive and, with a little patience and attention to detail, easy to apply yourself. You can buy precut kits for specific vehicles, which minimize both the installation time and learning curve. Or you can buy the film as a roll, which is less expensive and gives you more wiggle room in case of user error. Longer rolls even let you do multiple vehicles. There are multiple tint shades and materials available that let you tailor the look and environment you want (see FAQs). But be sure to check your state’s laws before buying so you get the right stuff for your needs.

Best Overall: MotoShield Pro Premium Precut Ceramic Kit 

MotoShield Pro - Premium Precut Ceramic Window Tint for Cars,Coupes (Superior Heat Control/Blocks 99% UV) 2mil - All Sides + Rear Window MotoShield Pro - Premium Precut Ceramic Window Tint for Cars,Coupes (Superior Heat Control/Blocks 99% UV) 2mil - All Sides + Rear Window
$91.29 Buy on Amazon Amazon Product Listing

Why We Picked It: 

This precut kit of MotoShield Pro’s ceramic film gives you a durable, high-quality window tint that’s easier to apply than roll film. This strong 2-mil film uses ceramic nanoparticles to block up to 99% of both UV and infrared radiation, helping protect the occupants and interior as well as blocking more solar heat. It’s available in a variety of shades, ranging from 5% to 75% VLT (visible light transmission). You can buy a wide range of configurations for cars, SUVs, minivans, and trucks. A 10-foot roll of 20-inch film is about $50.

Pros:

  • Ceramic film blocks more infrared radiation and heat than other types, and it holds up better 
  • Precut kits are easier to install than roll film
  • Available in a wide range of tint shades and configurations

Cons:

  • More expensive than dyed and carbon window tints
  • Three-year warranty is less than some other brands
  • Instructions recommend using a heat gun to apply the film 

Best Window Tint on a Roll: MotoShield Pro Premium Ceramic

MotoShield Pro Premium 2mil Ceramic Window Tint for Auto - 20 Inches x 100 Feet (50%) [99% Infrared Heat Reduction/Blocks 99% UV] Window Film Roll MotoShield Pro Premium 2mil Ceramic Window Tint for Auto - 20 Inches x 100 Feet (50%) [99% Infrared Heat Reduction/Blocks 99% UV] Window Film Roll $208.99 Buy on Amazon Amazon Product Listing

Why We Picked It: 

If you’d rather cut your own window tint, you can buy MotoShield Pro’s premium ceramic film in a variety of rolls, for a range of prices. The price above is for a 10-foot roll of 20-inch film, but you can get it in other lengths and widths. Or, if you want to do multiple vehicles, you can buy a professional 100-foot roll of 20-, 40- or 60-inch film. As with the precut kits, this strong 2-mil film comes in a range of shades from 15 to 75 VLT. And its ceramic nanoparticles help block up to 99% of both UV and infrared radiation.

Pros:

  • Ceramic film blocks more infrared radiation and heat than other types, and it holds up better 
  • Rolls of tint film are less expensive overall than precut kits
  • Available in a wide range of tint shades and dimensions

Cons:

  • Roll films require you cut them to fit
  • Three-year warranty is less than some other brands
  • Instructions recommend using a heat gun to apply the film 

Best Precut Carbon Film Kit: Lexen Max 2Ply Carbon

LEXEN 2Ply Carbon All Windows PreCut Tint Kit - Great Heat Reduction LEXEN 2Ply Carbon All Windows PreCut Tint Kit - Great Heat Reduction $48.95 Buy on Amazon Amazon Product Listing

Why We Picked It: 

Embedded with tiny carbon particles, this window tint provides a great balance between quality and price. And the precut kit makes it easier to install. This carbon film blocks more infrared radiation and heat than less-expensive dyed films, as well as up to 99% of UV rays. And it holds up better over time. This 1.5-mil, two-ply film is available in a range of shades, and it’s covered by a lifetime warranty. As some users note, the film can be cut oversized with the window’s shape outlined in it, so you may have to do the final trimming

Pros

  • Precut kits are easier to install than roll film
  • Less expensive than ceramic films
  • Carbon films block heat better and hold up better than lower-cost dyed films

Cons

  • More expensive than dyed window tints
  • Carbon film doesn’t block as much heat as ceramic film
  • You may need to use a heat gun to get it to fit right on some curved windows (such as a rear window)

Best Carbon Film on a Roll: Lexen Max 2Ply Premium Carbon

LEXEN 2Ply Premium Carbon 24' X20' Roll Window Tint Film 24' x20' (5%) LEXEN 2Ply Premium Carbon 24" X20' Roll Window Tint Film 24" x20' (5%) $19.95 Buy on Amazon Amazon Product Listing

Why We Picked It: 

As with the precut kits, Lexen’s strong two-ply, 1.5-mil Premium Carbon film is a great value that combines quality and affordability. Using tiny embedded carbon particles, this film reflects more infrared radiation and heat than dyed films, and it holds up better over time. It also doesn’t cause the electronic interference associated with metallic films. The price shown here is for a 24-inch x 10-foot roll. But you can get it in different widths and lengths, including 100-foot rolls. Lifetime warranty.

Pros:

  • Less expensive than ceramic films
  • Carbon films block heat better and hold up better than lower-cost dyed films
  • Available in a range of tint shades

Cons:

  • Roll films require cutting them to fit yourself
  • Carbon film doesn’t block as much heat as ceramic film
  • Some users have complained about getting a different tint than they ordered

Best for People on a Tighter Budget: Gila Heat Shield Basic

Gila Heat Shield 20% VLT Automotive Window Tint DIY Heat Control Glare Control Privacy (6in x 26in Strips) Gila Heat Shield 20% VLT Automotive Window Tint DIY Heat Control Glare Control Privacy (6in x 26in Strips) $11.19 Buy on Amazon Amazon Product Listing

Why We Picked It: 

This single-layer, dyed film is one of the least expensive window tints we’ve seen from a reputable company. The Gila brand is a subsidiary of Eastman Performance Films, which also makes LLumar, a popular professional brand. The film provides all of the basic benefits that you want from a window tint: privacy, less glare and heat, and a stylish look. It also blocks over 99% of UV rays. A roll that measures 24” x 78” (6.5 feet) is about $10. Two-year warranty.

Pros:

  • Costs less than most other window tints and comes from an established company
  • Blocks over 99% of UV radiation
  • Gila offers its own inexpensive installation kit for DIYers

Cons

  • Dyed window tints don’t block as much heat or hold up as well as ceramic and carbon films
  • Available in a more limited number of tint shades than the other products here
  • Available in only one size of roll

Methodology

Forbes Wheels compared the specs, materials, and pricing of window tint products from more than 20 brands, while looking for the best ones that car owners can install themselves. We also reviewed evaluations by other critics and buyers to identify where users have had problems with the different products. The five window tints selected here represent the best overall values in this category for people with different needs.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

What are the different types of tint films?

All window tint films reduce the amount of visible light coming into a vehicle, which helps reduce glare and provides more privacy. And all of the ones we recommend are claimed to block up to 99% of UV radiation, which helps protect your skin and reduces the fading and damage to interior materials.

The most economical use only layers of dyes to achieve the desired benefits. They can give your car a great appearance, but they fade more quickly and can take on a purplish cast over time.

Metalized films use tiny metallic particles to reflect more sunlight, which helps reduce the amount of heat entering the vehicle and better resists fading. This type has fallen out of favor with many drivers, though, because of reports that the metallic particles can interfere with electronic signals of phones, portable GPS navigators, and other in-car consumer electronics. 

For many drivers, a better alternative is a carbon window tint, which replaces the metal particles with tiny bits of carbon. This has similar heat-reflective properties, but without the chance of electronic interference. It also has a matte-like finish that many people like, and it holds up better than basic dyed films.

The most expensive type is ceramic film, which uses nano-sized ceramic particles instead of carbon or metal. It blocks more infrared radiation and heat from entering the car than carbon films, and it’s very durable and long lasting. 

What do the tint numbers mean?

All window tints have a VLT (visible light transmission) percentage number that can range from 5 to 70. The lower the number, the less visible light enters the vehicle. A film with a VLT percentage of 70, for example, is a lighter shade that blocks only 30% of the outside light, allowing 70% into the vehicle. At the other extreme, a VLT of 5 is very dark, allowing in only 5% of the light, which is why it’s often used in limos. (Standard sunglasses have a VLT of 15-25.) In most states, the front side windows are limited to a tint of 30% to 50% VLT. The website, tinting-laws.com, has a good visual simulation of the different VLT percentages.

Is it legal to tint my vehicle’s windows? 

Each state has its own laws about window tinting, and you should check your state’s regs on this AAA site before buying. No states let you tint your whole windshield, but most allow you to tint a five- or six-inch strip along the top (or down to the windshield’s so-called AS1 line). The laws for the side windows and the rear window vary. Police may use tinted windows for a pretext stop. The driver is pulled over for a possible minor violation (tinted windows, an air freshener hanging from mirror, tail lamp out) in hopes of finding a larger violation. 

Keep in mind that if you’re applying a tint over factory-tinted windows, the total light transmission of both will be measured. We’ve read comments from users who bought a tint that matched their state’s limits and still failed their car’s inspection, possibly for this reason. In addition to the AAA website above, windowtintlaws.us provides a good explanation of each state’s laws, as well as some helpful articles about tinting (but be ready to sift through the ads). 

Can I install a window tint as well as a shop?

Generally, window tints aren’t tricky to install, but they do require a few tools, a clean environment, and an ample amount of patience. The easiest type to install is a precut kit, which has been trimmed to fit your specific car model. With a roll of film, you need to measure the windows and cut the film to the right size yourself. 

Once cut, most products are installed by spraying the inside of a window with a soap-and-water solution, positioning the film on the window, and smoothing it out with a squeegee. While many products come with a squeegee, it helps to have a good basic installation kit, which you can get for under $20. 

Before attempting the installation, we recommend you read over the instructions that many companies provide on their websites. There are also many installation videos available, either on company websites or YouTube.

Compound curved glass, such as rear windows that curve in both directions, can be the biggest challenge for first-timers. Some companies advise you to shrink the film with a heat gun to get it to fit well, and there are a number of good YouTube videos, such as this one, that show you how to do it. A good heat gun costs about $30, or $50 as part of an installation kit. Other companies recommend installing it in horizontal strips, even though this can leave visible seams in the tint.

How long do window tints last?

It depends on the type of film. According to Gila Film Products, the dyes and pigments used in basic dyed window-tint film will gradually break down from UV radiation. Presuming correct installation and proper maintenance, the company estimates they will last three to four years before beginning to fade. But this depends a lot on the environment you drive in and how much direct sun the car gets. 

Films that reflect more sunlight, such as those with carbon or ceramic particles, will last longer, often five to 10 years.

This article, Best Car Window Tints For 2021, originally appeared on Forbes Advisor.