Skip to content

Window Tint Percentages – Examples & What You Need to Know

Window Tint Percentages – Examples & What You Need to Know

Tinted windows have been popular for a while. They not only look good, but also have a practical purpose. At high enough percentages, window tint can protect drivers, passengers, and the car’s interior from damaging sun and UV rays. Tinted windows also offer more privacy than clear ones.

That said, many states have laws regulating the maximum amount of light window tints are allowed to block. Additionally, very dark windows can make it harder to see the roadway at night. It’s essential to have all the relevant information before getting your windows tinted.

Here’s everything you need to know about window tint percentages, including examples of the various tints you can purchase and how each will affect your car in terms of UV radiation, privacy, and visibility.

What Does Window Tint Percentage Mean?

You’re likely familiar with tinted windows as a general concept. If you’ve decided to get your windows tinted, you’ll see that the various tints on offer differ in terms of percentages.

So how does tint percentage work, and what does it mean?

This percentage indicates how much light is able to pass through the glass on your car’s windows. If a window is tinted at 60%, that means 40% of all incoming light is blocked.

The lower the percentage, the more light gets blocked, and the darker the windows will appear.

Common Car Tint Percentages

car tint percentages

You’ll notice that window film manufacturers offer several different tint percentages depending on the desired visual light transmission (VLT). 

Legal car tint percentages vary widely from state to state. Check out our detailed state-by-state breakdown of the window tint laws by state.

Here are several tint percentage examples covering some of the most popular percentages for the front, rear, and back windows.

70% Tint

This is the baseline VLT for many cars’ windows today. Windows with a 70% film appear clear to most viewers, so they don’t provide privacy; however, the people inside the vehicle are protected from the worst UV rays. 70% tints also facilitate better temperature regulation than clear windows.

50% Tint

Windows that block half of all incoming light are ideal for stopping UV rays. They protect car interiors and passengers’ skin from sun damage and lessen glare from lights outside the vehicle.

With 50% VLT, you won’t find your vision compromised by overly darkened glass. However, you also won’t get the privacy afforded by darker tints. 

35% Tint

35% film gives vehicles a sleek, stylish look that many car owners love. Passersby can still see through it, but their views will be obscured somewhat. This is the minimum legal VLT in several states, so it’s a popular choice for car owners who want privacy and protection from UV rays without significantly lowering visibility.

20% Tint

At 20% VLT, your windows will shield the contents of your car from anyone who doesn’t have their face pressed up against the glass. This percentage provides a high degree of privacy and sun protection but reduces visibility somewhat during the day and considerably more at night.

15% Tint

From the outside, there’s a negligible difference between 20% and 15% VLT. If you love the look of a jet-black car but live in a state that prohibits limo tints, a 15% film might be ideal for you.

5% Tint (Limo Tint)

5% VLT is commonly called the “limo tint percentage” because it’s often used on vehicles that transport celebrities and other individuals who prefer a high degree of privacy. It blocks incoming light by 95%, making it very difficult to see through.

Though legal for rear side and back windows in California and New York – two areas with high concentrations of famous people – these tints are prohibited in many states since they severely dampen visibility.

How Do You Calculate Tint Over Factory Tint?

What is factory tint percentage? It’s the amount of visual light transmission your car’s windows let in before alteration.

Some cars are manufactured with darkened windows. If your vehicle had tinted windows when you bought it, you’ll need to know the factory tint percentage before you can determine whether the VLT you want to apply is legal. Multiply these two percentages together to determine what the resulting VLT will be.

Say your car’s rear windows are currently tinted at 70% VLT, and you want to apply a 50% film. When we multiply 0.7 by 0.5, we get 0.35, or 35% VLT. That’s the most common limit for rear passenger and side windows in most states.

Always verify your locality’s laws before getting your windows tinted. That way, you’ll be able to calculate the correct VLT for your window film.

What’s the Best Tint Percentage For Your Car?

For most drivers, the best window tint percentage is one that balances UV protection with visibility. This can vary depending on your vehicle; the best tint percentage for a car of one model may differ from the ideal VLT for another. 

Additionally, you’ll need to consider different VLTs for different areas of your car. For instance, the best tint percentage for the front windshield is generally 80% or higher, though several states permit tinted window strips (AS-1 line) or windshield shade bands to protect drivers’ eyes from glare.

Finally, you’ll need to take into account the minimum legal tint in your state before making a final decision. Please check out our window tint percentages by state article to make sure you pick a legal tint percentage.

What Tint % Is Most Popular?

As the lowest legal VLT in many states, 35% enjoys widespread popularity among drivers across the country. It’s dark enough to shield you and your passengers from harmful UV rays but not so dark as to severely limit visibility at night.

What Is the Best Tint to See at Night?

Tints at the darker end of the spectrum can lower your visibility in low-light conditions, making it riskier to drive at night. A 50% film is ideal if you want sun protection and don’t care as much about privacy. For the best visibility-to-privacy ratio, choose a 35% film.

Where to Buy Tint?

Now that you have a better understanding of tint percentages and what they look like, the next step is to find a tint shop. Please visit our Dealer Locator to find a professional window tint shop near you. Speaking to a professional window tinter will help you decide on the best auto tint for you.