tint percentages

Your Ultimate Guide to Window Tint Percentages (2022)

When it comes to your car, you want to ensure that you’re keeping it safe. Many people look into window tinting, as a good tint can keep your car interior cool and slow the deteriorating effects of UV light on your seats. But with all of the different window tint percentages available, how do you know which option is right for you?

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about window tinting and tint percentages so you can make an informed decision for your car.

Window Tinting: What it Is and What it Does

Car windows can be tinted darker by applying a dark film, which reduces the amount of light that passes through the glass. The percentage of light that can pass through the windows is called the visible light transmission, or VLT. For example, an untinted window would have a 100% VLT, while a window that was fully blacked out would have a 0% VLT.

Window tinting reduces the VLT of car windows while maintaining visibility for the driver. Most states have laws regulating how much drivers can lower the VLT percentage of their car windows, though they vary from state to state.

While lower VLT percentages can impact visibility for drivers, window tinting offers many benefits, including the following:

  • Blocks Heat and Light: the lower the VLT, the less UV rays and heat from the sun will get into one’s car. This makes cars a more comfortable temperature during the summer, allowing drivers to use less energy to cool the vehicle. It also protects your passengers and your car’s interior from the damaging effects of UV rays.
  • Provides Privacy and Security: Tinted windows make it more difficult for others to see into your vehicle. If you regularly keep valuables in your car, this will decrease the likelihood of someone noticing your property and breaking into your car to steal it. Plus, added privacy is a huge bonus for people who would like to avoid the public eye, like celebrities, their families, and their staff.
  • Adds a Sleek Finish: Many people find the appearance of tinted windows much sleeker than untinted windows, making them a popular choice for those who value their car’s appearance.

Common Levels For Tint Percentages

The level of tint is measured by the percentage of visible light that is allowed to pass through the film and into the car. A higher percentage means that more light is allowed to pass through, while a lower percentage means that less light is allowed to pass through.

Here are the most common tint percentage levels:


A 5% tint level is also known as a “limo tint”. This is the darkest level of tint that is legally allowed on side windows in most states. A 5% tint will provide you with plenty of privacy and protection from the sun, as it appears to be black when looking at it from the outside. Even if you cup your hands around your eyes and try to look through the tint, it would be difficult to see through.


This is the darkest tint that is legally allowed on windshields in most states. This blocks out 80% of visible light and offers significant UV protection, which is perfect for those who want to reduce glare and UV rays while still being able to see out of their windows. Not only does it offer an increased level of privacy, but it also keeps your car cooler in the summer. However, a 20% tint will make your car more difficult to see out of at night, and you may struggle to see things in the distance.


This tint percentage is generally considered to be a “medium” darkness, and it is a popular choice for many drivers. It blocks out 65% of visible light and offers good UV protection. A 35% tint provides a good balance between privacy and visibility, and it also helps to keep your car cooler in the summer months. When applied to your windows, this level of tint percentage will make your car more comfortable to drive in and protect your upholstery from fading. Some states don’t allow anything lower than this level of tint on passenger vehicles because it offers the best combination of visibility and protection.


A 50% car window tint means that only 50% of the light will pass through their windows. This still offers UV protection and reduces glare, but it allows for more visibility. This is a good choice for those who live in colder climates, as it prevents excessive frost buildup on your windows. It’s also a good choice for those who want the benefits of window tinting without sacrificing visibility.


A 70-tint film cuts out most UV rays, making it great for protection from the sun’s harmful effects. Even after dark, a 70% film will still provide good visibility for the driver. It is unnoticeable when installed, and you can only tell the difference if you compare it side-by-side to a car with no film at all. This film often appears to be bluish in color due to its high levels of visible light transmission (VLT).

How to Choose the Correct Percentage for Your Window Tint

When it comes to window tinting, the options can seem endless, but it’s still an important decision. So, how do you know which percentage is right for you?

While on the one hand, you want enough tint to reduce the glare and heat of the sun, on the other hand, you don’t want to make it so dark that you can’t see it at night or in bad weather. The best way to decide is to take into account the following factors:

Your Personal Preference

Your personal preference is the main deciding factor when it comes to choosing a window tint percentage. If you want your car to have a sleek, stylish, and mysterious look, then a darker tint is the way to go. If you want your car to be more conservative, however, then a lighter tint is recommended. This will allow you to see out of your windows better and won’t make your car look too sinister. If you really want to stand out, you can even get creative with patterned or colored window tints.

Consider the Style and Type of Your Car

The style of your car can also be a factor in deciding how much to tint your windows. If you have a sporty or luxurious car, a darker tint will give it a sleek and sophisticated look. If you have a more utilitarian vehicle, a lighter tint will be sufficient.

The type of car you drive can also affect your decision. If you have a convertible, you might want to go with a lighter tint so you can enjoy the view. For vehicles like sedans or SUVs, you have more leeway in terms of tint darkness.

Think About the Tint’s Purpose

Another thing to consider is the purpose of the tint. If you’re mostly concerned with UV protection, then a lighter tint will be sufficient. However, if you’re looking for more privacy or want to reduce the glare of the sun, then a darker tint is better.

Know the Climate You Live In

If you live in a warm climate, then a darker tint is ideal because it will keep your car cooler. Darker tints block out more of the sun’s heat and UV rays, which can make a big difference on a hot day. If you live in a colder climate, then a lighter tint is preferable, as it will prevent frost buildup on your windows.

Review the Laws in Your State

Every state has different laws when it comes to car window tinting, so it’s important to know the regulations before you have your windows tinted. In most states, there is a limit on the amount of tint that you can have on your car windows. Do your research online, and if you can’t find a clear answer, check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State to review the laws and make sure you’re in compliance.

Choose a Quality Tint

When it comes to window tinting, quality is just as important as the percentage. A cheap, poor-quality tint could reduce your visibility, bubble up, and make your windows more prone to shattering in the event of an accident or break-in. It also won’t protect your car or passengers from UV rays as effectively. Be sure to choose a quality tint from a reputable company to get the most out of your investment.

If you’re not sure where to start, a middle-range tint from a reputable brand is a safe bet. This will give you a good balance of light and darkness. Although there are many factors to consider when choosing the right window tint percentage for your car, as long as you keep your personal preferences and state laws in mind, you should have no problem finding the perfect balance.

California Window Tint Laws

The state of California has some of the most strict window tinting laws in the country. The regulations for sedans and SUVs are very specific. Front side windows must have a VLT of 70% or more, and windshields can only have the top 4 inches of their surface tinted. While these laws may seem strict, they keep drivers safer. An untinted front windshield provides the driver with an unobstructed view of the road, and heavy tinting on the back windows can make it difficult for the driver to check their blind spots. By keeping the front windshield clear and allowing only a small amount of tinting on the back windows, California’s laws ensure that drivers and passengers alike are protected.

It is also illegal to use red, amber, or blue tint colors on side windows. These colors are not permitted because they can make it difficult for police officers and other drivers to see into the vehicle in case of an emergency.

The only exception to these laws is for medical reasons. If you have a valid prescription from a licensed physician, you can apply for a permit that allows for lower tint percentages on all windows of your vehicle. This exemption is particularly useful for those who suffer from conditions that make them sensitive to sunlight, such as lupus.


Window tinting is a great way to improve the look and feel of your car. Not only does it make your car look cooler, but it can also provide UV protection and privacy. When choosing a window tint, it’s important to consider the percentage, purpose, climate, and laws in your state. By taking all of these factors into account, you can find the perfect window tint for your car.

Ultimately, it’s important to consult with a professional window tinting installer in Sacramento that knows the ins and outs of California’s window tint laws. Elite Auto Works is the leading window tinting company in California — we can help you find the perfect window tint for your car. Our team of experts can help you choose the right tint percentage and shade, and we’ll make sure your car is in compliance with state laws. If you’re looking for window tinting near me, contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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