How Long Does Car Tint Last?
Investing in car window tint can be expensive, but how long does car tint last? It’s a fair question given how much you’ll pay for a professional to install window tint. You want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment and the product you’ve purchased. If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’re not alone.
Many factors influence how long your car tint lasts, especially when it comes to the quality of the tint and the installation. The way you treat your car window tint makes a huge difference as well. Finding ways to help your car tint last longer can protect your investment so you get the most out of it.
This article will help you understand what affects the lifespan of tint and how you can prolong your car’s tint life to enjoy it for longer. You’ll learn about the different types of window tints as well as things you can do daily to make sure your car tint lasts for years to come. Paying for tint to come off can be as expensive as having it installed, so the longer you can keep your car’s tint on the windows, the better.
Factors that affect the car tint lifespan
Every car tint is different. Answering the question “how long does car tint last?” really depends on several factors. You should keep these factors in mind as you’re considering investing in car tint. Though many people consider it to be something you install and enjoy without having to worry about, window tint still needs some maintenance here and there to keep it looking new.
Quality of the car tint
The quality of the tint film you choose to have installed on your vehicle makes a huge difference in how long it lasts. Beware of car tint that’s cheap as it can deteriorate quickly. It’s much better to pay a little extra for better tint the first time than waste money on multiple installations of inferior film.
Every tint installer has their own methods. One of the answers to the question “how long does car tint last” is “how well was the tint installed?” Window tint that hasn’t been applied properly will bubble and peel off the window. This indicates the adhesive wasn’t able to adhere to the window correctly. Properly installed tint sticks to the window and any bubbles that appear will disappear in a few days after installation.
Climate and sun exposure
Tint films are similar to stickers in that they can negatively react to humidity and sun exposure. Prolonged sun exposure will break down the tint film itself over time. Though the film is designed to hold up against UV rays, it’s not indestructible. While normal sun exposure might take a few years to have a truly noticeable effect, prolonged exposure can cause the window tint color to change.
Humid conditions on top of that could result in peeling or bubbling tint. Most window tints are applied in ideal weather, typically 70 degrees and sunny. Colder temperatures can cause the tint to contract and stiffen, while hotter temperatures can cause it to warp.
You may not think of window tint as something that needs to be maintained. However, you should wipe down the inside of your vehicle with glass cleaner consistently to keep the window tint clean.
Any debris that sticks to the window tint can potentially adhere to it for the life of the tint. Removing it means you’ll have to replace the entire piece of car tint.
If you ever get anything on the window tint, it’s best to clean it off as soon as you can. As we will talk about in a later section, it’s best to use only water or glass cleaner to maintain your car tint. Any harsh chemicals you use can potentially destroy the film altogether.
Similar to the quality of the car tint you choose, the tint brand matters as well. The most common window tint brand is 3M, but there are plenty of other great brands out there as well. Be sure to research a brand before you purchase their tint film to ensure they’re a real company and that they produce high-quality tints worth your investment. You can also ask around at various window tint shops to see which car tint brands they use and why they use them.
Longest-lasting car tint types
Basic car tint contains an element of durability. However, there are other types of car tint you may want to research before you pick out a specific brand or type. In most cases, it’s worth the upgrade to choose a premium film, especially given some of its benefits.
1. Ceramic film
You’ve likely heard of ceramic coatings, which help keep your car’s paint durable and looking like new. Ceramic film does a similar thing in providing superior protection for your car’s windows. In the case of ceramic film, however, it’s more about repelling UV rays and maintaining the temperature inside your vehicle. If you’re looking for premium car tint, ceramic film is the way to go.
2. Hybrid film
The dye in tint film is what gives it that signature dark look. Dye is one of the two main components of hybrid car tint film, the other being metalized tints. Both of these components provide the strength window tint needs in addition to the ability to block the sun’s rays. Most hybrid car tint films typically resist scratches and fading.
3. Carbon film
As the name suggests, carbon film incorporates this lightweight metal into the tint film on a molecular level. Doing so allows the film to take on a matte appearance that also resists more UV rays. Many people prefer carbon film to hybrid or metalized film for its superior protection and quality.
4. Metalized film
Most basic car tints are made from metalized film. The metallic particles in the film reflect the sun’s rays, redirecting them from the interior of your vehicle. While metalized films aren’t particularly expensive, they may not be as durable or long-lasting as premium types of film such as carbon or ceramic.
7 ways to make car tints last longer
After your car tint has been installed, there are ways you can help maintain your tint to keep it lasting for years to come. The more you can do to keep your tint looking and performing like new, the longer it should last.
Park in a shaded or covered area
As much as tint helps when you have to park in the sun, it’s always a good idea to give the tint a break once in a while. Park somewhere shaded where your car isn’t directly in the sunlight. You’ll also notice other benefits of this practice, mainly for your paint. The more you can do to keep your paint (and car tint) out of the sun, the longer they’ll both last.
Avoid using abrasive products or tools
Scraping your car windows in the winter shouldn’t be an issue for your tint. At the same time, any sharp tools or objects that come into contact with the interior part of the window will definitely rip or tear it. This includes jewelry, pet nails, or any other objects that might hit the window.
Even slightly abrasive objects can damage the car's tint. For example, if you were to use a microfiber that had small pieces of dirt in it, you could potentially carve out small scrapes in the tint that are just as noticeable outside the car as they are inside.
Keep the tinted windows closed when driving on roads with a lot of dust or debris
Rolling those windows up points back to the same issue as keeping abrasive materials off the window tint. Any dirt or debris that sits on the windows can easily scratch them, even if you use the softest microfiber. As tempting as it might be to keep your windows down and enjoy the scenery, think twice if you have car tint.
Use a microfiber cloth or a squeegee to clean the tinted windows
There’s nothing wrong with using a microfiber cloth to clean the inside of your windows. It’s the technique you use that matters more. For instance, you want to spray glass cleaner on the window directly to help lift any debris from the surface of the tint. Then, you can use the microfiber to clear this dirt from the window so it doesn’t scratch the surface.
Avoid using harsh chemicals on the tinted windows
Unless you’ve tested a chemical on a part of the window tint and didn’t notice any adverse effects, it’s a good rule of thumb not to put any chemicals on the windows. Glass cleaner shouldn’t harm the window tint at all, but you can easily spray it on a microfiber cloth and test a part of the tint if you’re concerned.
Any other chemicals you might use on the tint can damage it in some way. You can pull the dye out of the tint, cause the film to break down, reverse the effects of the adhesive, or even cause a bad chemical reaction. Stick with water or glass cleaner whenever possible.
Have professional maintenance done to the tints
Typical maintenance on car tint includes cleaning it and keeping it out of the sun. If you ever have issues with the tint, take it to the company that installed it for you first. If you have a problem such as bubbles, they may cover repairs under warranty. They may be able to help answer any questions you have as well.
Avoid smoking in the car
Smoking in the car can damage more than just your window tint. Still, it’s a good idea to keep smoke away from car tint because it can discolor it or even cause it to decay prematurely.
You might be able to remove smoke residue as you’re smoking in the vehicle, but once it adheres to the tint and sits there for a while, it’s harder and harder to remove. Plus, since you can’t use harsh chemicals to remove smoke stains, you’re stuck with whatever glass cleaner or hot water can do.