Car windows: all you need to know about tinting them

Car windows

Tinted car windows have long been a relatively simple way for drivers to make their motor look more stylish. Apply some film to the glass, a quick blast with a hairdryer and off you go. It shades the interior of cars from the sun and sprinkles even the most ordinary motor with some limo stardust. But although straightforward to carry out, tinting car windows can present problems.

The laws around it are strict. Imagine wearing a pair of dark sunglasses on a dull day. Although you can see, there will be things you don’t see clearly or immediately. And at night when pedestrians and cyclists can be hard enough to spot even if fully sighted, overly dark glass can be dangerous for all road users. Read on to find out all you need to know about window tinting.

Which car windows can you tint?

You can tint every window on a car. It’s how much you can get away with tinting glass legally that varies. This depends on which window you want to tint and the age of car. The back window and rear side windows can be tinted as much as you like. So if you want to protect young kids or pets travelling in the back from the full force of the sun’s rays, or you just want to channel your inner gangsta, tint away.

What about front window tinting?

For cars that were registered before April 1, 1985, the windscreen and front side windows must let at least 70 per cent of light through. On vehicles first used on or after April 1, 1985, the windscreen must let 75 per cent of light through, the front side windows 70 per cent.

Car windows
Windscreen tinting is a no-no, unless it lets more than 75 per cent of light in

What’s the view of insurance companies?

If you have your windows tinted – it doesn’t matter if it’s legally or illegally – you must tell your insurer. Tinted glass is deemed a modification. An insurer will argue that it alters the risk profile of your car and you as a driver. Whether it has an impact on the price you pay or not, they will want to reassess your premium. And as with other modifications, if you have an accident and there’s something you haven’t told them about, insurers may refuse to pay out.

How much does it cost to tint a car’s windows?

The price varies across the country. You can buy kits and do it yourself. But it’ll probably look fairly shonky when you’ve finished. For the best results, use a professional. Applying the film without taking the windows out could cost around £100 for a small car. However, if the car is big with complicated glass areas and you want the best finish possible you could pay more than £1000.

Does the MOT test tinted glass?

Astonishingly, no part of the MOT test assesses how dark a car’s glass is. That’s because around 24 million cars go through the MOT every year but only a tiny proportion have illegally tinted glass. Some test stations may never see cars with tinted glass. As a result, it hardly seems reasonable to expect every MOT tester in the country to shell out for equipment they may never use.

What are the penalties for illegal window tints?

The police and/or Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) enforce window tinting. They use special equipment which measures the amount of light glass lets through. If the windscreen or front side windows are too tinted, you could get a prohibition notice forbidding you to use the vehicle until the tints have been removed. In extreme cases, you may get three points on your licence and a £60 fine. If the tint is only just outside the law, you could be asked to rectify the windows and provide evidence to a police station that the work’s been done.

How you know car windows haven’t been illegally tinted?

To put it bluntly, you don’t. However, it is against the law to tint a car’s windows illegally. And it is illegal to sell a car whose windows don’t comply with the law because the car will be outside the Construction and Use Regulations. If you’re suspicious that a car’s windows might have been tinted illegally dark, probably best not to buy it.

Find a garage to give you advice on tinting windows

Mandy Weston

Mandy Weston

Mandy is an ex-mechanic, with 22 years’ experience in the motor industry. As an in-house motoring expert, Mandy is the go-to woman for any relevant questions that our customers have; both garages and drivers. From specific problems with your car to general maintenance, Mandy is a reliable source of information and advice. Her passion for motoring is a huge factor to her success and the huge wealth of knowledge that she has. She now uses her remarkable grasp of the industry to write regular content for our readers to help drivers understand their car better, avoid being ripped off by garages and save money on their motoring requirements.