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One of the biggest cosmetic questions in car guy world is when to tint.


The idea of tinting something has been around a long time in another realm because most women would automatically think we are about to discuss hair color changes.


The term “tinting” readily applies to both hair and the car hobby because it is commonly used in both circles.



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The basic difference: women are more likely to tint their hair and men are more likely to tint the window glass in their rides.


Window tinting may best be described as a luxury item on old school cars and trucks. A tinted windshield was something that could be checked off as an option for a new car in a bygone era.


Tinted windshields were most likely to be found on full load Impalas, Furys or Buicks rather than frugal Biscaynes or Savoys back in the 60s.


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In the old days, a car with a tinted windshield likely had more taillights and fewer doors. Old school tinted windshield rides had more chrome, full wheel covers and whitewall tires because its owner was less concerned about sticker shock than his price-conscious neighbor-the family guy with too many kids.


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Limos also had tinted windows in the past, but most people only rode in them during a funeral and the tinted windows gave the passengers some well-deserved privacy during their moment of grief.


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These days everything seems to be fair game when it comes to the tint game, however we will stick to the concept of tinting car windows rather than any comment on the new Kool Aid-colored hair tint fad.


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When is the right time to tint a car window? The answer for many car guys is; “anytime I want because I own the vehicle”. The car guys with this philosophy are indeed correct, but there are a few variables to consider when they apply tint to the windows.


The first one is the legal side of the equation because tints on cars are subject to local traffic laws and could lead to a one-sided debate with a traffic cop about whether the window tint is worthy of a traffic ticket.


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The argument will always be won by the police officer because he or she will be able to apply the long arm of the law to settle the dispute.


The basic rule of thumb is little or no tint on the windshield sight line and varying levels of tolerance for the vehicle’s other windows.


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The darker the tint, the more likely you will need a razor blade to remove the tint film on the side of the road under the watchful eye of a police officer.Many car guys have told us about these unhappy endings to their tint experiment, but there is another reason to avoid tint: safety.


Heavy tint does not allow the police to determine what is happening in a car and they have no idea who is behind the wheel of the vehicle other than a registration check.


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That lack of knowledge can be fatal under the wrong circumstances when they perform a traffic stop. Car passengers concealed by tinted windows makes them nervous and cautious-for good reason.


The other element of safety is the driver’s ability to see the road at night. How many of us drive wearing sunglasses after dark, other than 80s pop has-been Corey Hart?


A heavy window tint compromises night vision in the same manner and can lead to an encounter with Bambi, or his bigger friend Bullwinkle. Wildlife and people are not always easy to see at night and a tinted windshield makes the task even harder for drivers.



The final part of the equation is when to use tint on a vehicle. A custom hot rod with the right paint can look great with tinted windows, but a big sedan from the 60s or 70s just look cheap with tinted windows and invites an encounter with law enforcement in a search-for-the-missing-bong kind of way.



These days tint is always a matter of personal taste and there are only fashion police involved when you use the rainbow to pick your hair color tint.


Window tint on your ride may introduce you to the real police.


Jim Sutherland

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