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6 Types of Car Window Tints & Their Differences

LEXEN 2PLY Premium Carbon Window Tint Film Roll

Beyond being the envy of your friends and neighbors, there are many other benefits to tinting your car’s windows. Tints will help keep the heat out in summer and trap heat in during winter. They can save your precious upholstery and dash from damaging UV rays and keep the harsh sun from beating down on you and your passengers. Window tints can also give you privacy.

Although many modern vehicles come with tints already pre-installed, aftermarket tints are still a popular option. Darker and stronger tints are available, which can get you the custom look you’re after. There are so many different types of tint to choose from, each with its own unique selling points.

Let’s take a look at six different available types of aftermarket tint. With names like “Celebrity Charcoal” and “Misty Fog,” these tints will transform your run-of-the-mill suburban car to an envy-inspiring spy vehicle in no time.

1. Dyed Window Tints

tinted car window
Image Credit: n_defender, Shutterstock

Dyed window tints are the most common type available, as well as the most affordable. These tints are thin, multi-layered films of dyed plastic that adhere strongly to your car’s windows. They are made up of different densities of dye, depending on how dark a tint that you require. The dye helps stop a fair amount of UV rays entering your car, keeping it cool in the process. Dye tints offer decent protection for an affordable price, making them a popular choice.

A downside to dye tints’ affordability is that they will fade over time, meaning that they will eventually need to be replaced. Dye tints are more for appearance and aesthetics than utility, as the heat and UV reductions they offer are not particularly high, especially compared to other tints. Being just a thin layer of plastic, they are also susceptible to surface damage and scratches.

Pros
  • Affordability
  • Privacy
Cons
  • Will fade over time
  • Easily damaged

2. Metallized Window Tints

metallic tinted car window
Image Credit: Tursk Aleksandra, Shutterstock

A big step up from dye-based tints, metalized tints do the job of keeping heat and UV rays out, albeit by utilizing reflection. Metalized tint films have metal microparticles embedded within the layers of film to aid in their UV reflection. The particles also help strengthen your car’s windows, making them far less likely to shatter when broken. These tints are shinier and more spy-vehicle-worthy than dyed tints and are far more scratch resistant due to the metalized particles. They are also more efficient at blocking out heat and UV rays than a dye tint because of the infused-metal film.

The embedded metal particles do have a downside: They are notorious for interfering with radio, GPS, and cell reception. This means that if you are prone to getting lost and have to rely on Google navigation, you may have to invest in old-school paper maps. The price tag is also a big step up from dyed tints; their durability and strength come at a cost.

Pros
  • Efficient UV-ray protection
  • Assist with shatter resistance
  • Scratch resistant
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Prone to signal interference

3. Hybrid Window Tints

film adhesive window tint
Image Credit: Bhakpong, Shutterstock

The best of both worlds, hybrids are dye and metalized tints rolled into one unique package. This tint takes advantage of dye films’ affordability and privacy factor and adds in the strength and UV-blocking benefits of metalized tints. Additionally, they will not fade as quickly and are far more scratch resistant.

A major downside is affordability, as this technology is not cheap. You will also have the problem of signal interference due to the metal particles.

Pros
  • Privacy
  • Strength
  • Efficient UV-ray protection
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Signal interference

4. Carbon Window Tints

Carbon tints have a unique matte finish, making them a more subtle and tasteful option than the flashier shiny metalized tints — think undercover spy vehicle. They are infused with ultra-reflective carbon particles and won’t fade over time like dyed tints. The embedded carbon particles block up to 40% of infrared light, making them not only heat reflective but also insulating. This means they’ll work just as well in winter by keeping heat trapped inside the car, thus reducing heater use.

They are also far more efficient at reflecting heat, making them a superior option to dyed or metalized options. If paper maps are not your thing, carbon tints don’t have the signal blocking downside of metalized films: Your GPS will work just fine. However, due to their rarity, they are an expensive option.

Pros
  • Insulating
  • Unique matte finish
  • Highly UV efficient
Cons
  • Expensive

5. Ceramic Window Tints

ceramic car window tint
Image Credit: KULLAPONG PARCHERAT, Shutterstock

These tints are the coup de grace, the latest and greatest. They are the most expensive of all the tints listed here but the most effective. Ceramic tints are free from both dye and metal particles, utilizing non-conductive ceramic micro-particles instead. These particles don’t block cell or radio signals but do effectively block UV: They boast up to a 99% reduction. Ceramic tints surpass all others in their ability to reduce glare, their strength and shatter resistance, and their lack of susceptibility to scratches.

Although they are newer to the market compared to the other tints listed here, they have proved themselves and cemented their place in the window tints market. Ceramic tints offer a massive reduction in UV rays, keeping your precious upholstery safe from harm. Their superior efficacy more than makes up for their cost.

Pros
  • Effective UV reduction
  • Glare reduction
  • Strength
Cons
  • Very expensive

 6. Crystalline Window Tints

Reflection of a car window
Image credit: Reflection of a car window by Pacific24, Pixabay

Lastly, we have crystalline, or clear, tints. These are multi-layered tints that are almost perfectly clear in appearance but still block UV rays and heat. If privacy is high on your list of requirements, clear tint is not for you. If you like the look of clear windows on your car but still want to block heat and UV rays, crystalline tints are the way to go.

Some doubt the efficacy of clear tints because they are transparent, so it seems as if they are not doing anything useful. However, there has been rigorous testing to prove their effectiveness, so you can rest easy in knowing they are doing their job.

Pros
  • Low-key clear aesthetic
  • Effective UV blocking
Cons
  • Lack of privacy
  • Some doubts in efficacy

In Summary

With all the tint options at your fingertips, you can have your undercover spy vehicle in no time. Depending on your needs and budget (and ideal fantasy), there is a wide variety of low-cost and high-end tints to cater to your every need.

Remember: It’s always a good idea to hire an experienced professional to apply tints for you. It’s possible to apply tints yourself, but unless you have experience, this is not really a DIY project. At best, your windows will have unsightly air bubbles everywhere, reducing visibility to basically zero. If anything does go wrong, you’ll need to hire a professional to remove them for you. This is both expensive, and embarrassing — not very spy-like at all.


Featured image credit: LEXEN 2PLY Premium Carbon Window Tint Film Roll, Amazon

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