How to Choose Auto Glass Tint Percentage – What’s the Best?

We will begin this article with a completely unrelated anecdote: the other day, I was having a conversation regarding the Colorado sun. Now, this isn’t to say that the sun is entirely different in the Centennial State. Ultimately, it’s still the same radiating star at the center of the solar system. It’s still the same bright ball of plasma that you’ll see during clear days in, say, New York. The difference between our relationship, as Coloradans, with the sun as opposed to other American states, is the proximity.

With the mile-high (5,280 feet) altitude of Denver city comes a more intense relationship with the sun. We are closer than most other states, causing thinner air, quicker sunburns, and increased brightness during sunset and sunrise. Sun glare while driving (especially west during sunset) is extreme, causing a plethora of close calls and squinted eyes. Therefore, auto glass tint is crucial for Denverites.

Long story short: if you live in Colorado, you are likely to choose window tint. If you have decided to get your windows tinted, you need to decide what tint percentage is right for you. As auto glass specialists, we know a thing or two about tint.

Here’s how to decide your tint percentage:

What Exactly Is Tint?

Auto glass tint is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a thermoplastic polymer resin often applied to vehicle glass to reduce sunlight and cause darkness. Long story short, it’s used to make your windshield and windows darker to outside viewers.

If you have ever seen a vehicle and the glass was too dark to see into, that was due to tint.

Often seen as a way to increase privacy, tint also creates for less direct sun rays into your vehicle, lowering the internal temperature and prolonging the lifespan of interior materials (leather seats and plastic dashboards). Finally, it reduces visible light, lowering glare exponentially.

In theory, tinting your windshield would make a notable difference on the amount of sun glare that peeks through. Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely legal. If state law let people put any percentage strength of tint on their windshields, many drivers would go so dark they wouldn’t be able to see.

What Is a Tint Percentage?

When referring to tint, you will often hear percentages thrown around. But, what do they mean?

Tint percentage refers to the amount of visual light transmission (VLT) that the layer of resin allows. Often ranging from 5% to 90%, the lower, the darker. For example, if a window has 5% tint on it, the resin layer only allows 5% of visible light to shine through.

Most drivers opt for the lowest tint percentage legally allowed to reinforce the benefits of the auto glass material.

What’s the Legality?

As stated, there are individual state laws regarding the intensity of tint and tint percentage. Ultimately, most states follow similar rules, but we will be speaking of Colorado specifically here.

In Colorado, registered vehicles have to allow the transition of 70% of light through their windshield. It also can only be on the top 4 inches of your vehicle. Therefore, you can tint your windshield but not enough to make a big difference in glare.

Side windows and other auto glass follow different rules, though. Furthermore, it’s specific to your vehicle type. We’ll break it down.

  • Windshield: Only allowed to darken the top 4 inches. of the glass no more than 70% VLT with a non-reflective film. 
  • Front side windows: Must allow for at least 27% light visibility.
  • Back side windows: Must allow for at least 27% light visibility.
  • Rear window: Must allow for at least 27% light visibility.
  • Windshield: Only allowed to darken the top 4 inches. of the glass no more than 70% VLT with a non-reflective film. 
  • Front side windows: Must allow for at least 27% light visibility.
  • Back side windows: Must allow for at least 27% light visibility.
  • Rear window: Must allow for at least 27% light visibility.

Which Tint Percentage Is Right for You?

Overall, windshield tint is pretty straightforward. You are only allowed 70% VLT in the top 4 inches. Therefore, if you are getting your windows tinted, you might as well choose the darkest option legally available.

When it comes to your windows, the choice remains a bit murky. Should you choose tint in the 50% range or drop as low as possible?

50% At the Highest

Firstly, we must recommend that you stay at 50% or below in order to reap the full benefits of tint. Anything above 50% on your auto glass is kind of… pointless?

Sure, any darkening polymer is still darkening polymer, reducing at least some VLT during your daily commute. Anything about 50% will still reduce glare and keep your car’s interior cooler than if you didn’t have it, but with the ever-increasing price of professional tint services, you might as well go a bit darker.

Above 50% tint is not dark. In fact, it’s hard to notice that it’s even there. Consequently, that halfway mark is the lightest tint that still remains useful. So, if you have trouble seeing through darker auto glass or want to be able to see into the vehicle clearly, choose 50%.

35% Is a Happy Medium

If you believe dropping to 27% will be too dark but still want the sleekness of black auto glass, 35% is the best of both worlds.

As a happy medium between 50% and 27%, 35% will give you a great aesthetic look and still reduce significant glare and interior heat. It’s stylish and functional, and if you have trouble seeing through darker auto glass, you should be fine in this realm.

27% for Style

Coming in at the legal limit, 27% is the darkest tint percentage you can have on your vehicle’s windows. Though it may be harder to see out of, it should greatly reduce sun glare and interior heat, and prevent any passers from being able to snoop into your vehicle.

If you are looking for the fullest extent of tint benefits, this is the place to go.

Speak to a Pro

At the end of the day, you should take your vehicle to a professional when deciding on tint. Placing tint can be an arduous task. You want it done by an expert to make sure that it is done correctly without bubbles or misalignment.

If you are still unsure of what percentage to choose, speak with the pro. Ask them their opinion. They should also be able to show you examples.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. Our auto glass experts have dealt with tint and other windshield repairs for over 20 years.