Almost everyone who installs window tinting on their vehicle wants to install the darkest legal tint, to maximise the glare and heat reduction benefits, but there are a few issues that, if the installation isn’t properly managed, can cause people to unwittingly break the law, and even put them at risk of being sued. In this article we discuss exactly these risks are and how they can be managed.
The first thing you need to be aware of is the darkest legal tint that is allowed to be installed in your area. This differs in different states and territories around the world, but you should be able to find your regualtions with a simple search on Google.
In my home country of Australia, the darkest legal tint permitted on a vehicle is generally one with a VLT (visible light transmission) level of 35%, on all vehicle windows (excluding the front windscreen, which is not allowed to have any window tint except for a visor strip across the top). The only exceptions to this are in the NT and WA. In the NT you are permitted a minimum VLT of 15% for windows behind the driver; and in WA you are allowed 20% VLT on windows behind the driver.
Knowing the law is an obvious first start, but what isnt so obvious is the technical issues that come up when installing window film. You see, many vehicles already have a slight tint in the glass in their windows, fatory installed, and it’s vital that this is considered when adding after market tint. Here’s how the maths looks.
If the factory installed windows on your car already block 30% of light, when a film with the “darkest legal tint” of 35% is added to this glass, it will emit only 35% of light into a window that is already only emitting 70% of light, so the final VLT will be calculated by the addition of both tint ratings.
So what are the potential problems of getting this maths wrong? If your car accidentally fails to comply with tinting regulations, the first problem you have is that the Police can pull you over and issue you a fine and an un-roadworthy notice. That means your car can’t be driven until the illegal tint is removed. But that’s just the start the potential problems, there are other legal ramifications that are potentially more serious. Let’s say you are involved in an accident and your illegally dark windows are considered by the court to be a contributing factor in the cause of the accident. This can result in the nulling of your insurance policy, leaving you exposed to the full financial culpability of the accident. Even worse than this, criminal charges could apply, especially if property is damaged or people are hurt.
The last issue is the inconvenience and waste that can be caused. If your vehicle is deemed un-roadworthy, you can’t drive the car again until it has been put through the pits, in which case the illegal tint will have to be removed and you may also get a bill for other unexpected mechanical repairs at the same time.
So what’s the moral of this story? When it comes to window tinting, make sure you use a good quality installer that has the knowledge to be able to offer you the exact right film for your vehicle, otherwise you may end up installing a bunch of bad risks and problems instead of the window tint you expected.