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CA - Window Tinting Question

TarmacSurfer

Member
Jun 4, 2021
31
20
Behind the Orange Curtain
New M3 owner here and considering this (likely this is a car I want to keep forever). Thanks for posting!

Ignorant question: Is there really any benefit to the higher grade films? Seems to me it might be just a lot of extra expense for minimal added benefit.

It’s technically illegal to have the side windows done too in CA I believe, but I’m guessing it’s one of those things that’s seldom enforced unless you do something else to draw the ire of a police officer or they need a reason to pull you over (or tack on one more fine once they do...) Still, there ARE bored cops out there with nothing better to do - I got a “fix it ticket” for a burned out taillight once (but that was years ago). As a counterpoint it seems there’s all kinds of illegal / obnoxious stuff rolling around on the road out there these days (far worse than some window tint) and I never see / hear of anyone getting busted for it. Has anyone here actually gotten pulled over for side window tint in CA? At +/- $1,000 this is a not-insignificant investment and I’ll be none too happy if I’m required to remove it after a week to satisfy some cop out there with an axe to grind...

Thanks all!
 

calidreamz808

Member
May 20, 2019
256
234
Huntington Beach, CA
New M3 owner here and considering this (likely this is a car I want to keep forever). Thanks for posting!

Ignorant question: Is there really any benefit to the higher grade films? Seems to me it might be just a lot of extra expense for minimal added benefit.

It’s technically illegal to have the side windows done too in CA I believe, but I’m guessing it’s one of those things that’s seldom enforced unless you do something else to draw the ire of a police officer or they need a reason to pull you over (or tack on one more fine once they do...) Still, there ARE bored cops out there with nothing better to do - I got a “fix it ticket” for a burned out taillight once (but that was years ago). As a counterpoint it seems there’s all kinds of illegal / obnoxious stuff rolling around on the road out there these days (far worse than some window tint) and I never see / hear of anyone getting busted for it. Has anyone here actually gotten pulled over for side window tint in CA? At +/- $1,000 this is a not-insignificant investment and I’ll be none too happy if I’m required to remove it after a week to satisfy some cop out there with an axe to grind...

Thanks all!
Been in CA for 9 years and all cars owned have had limo tint.. never had an issue. I've heard the same thing though... if you screw up and get pulled over... they often add the tint issue onto whatever else you've done wrong. hahhahaha
 

techzelle

Member
Jan 14, 2021
130
177
Sunnyvale, CA
New M3 owner here and considering this (likely this is a car I want to keep forever). Thanks for posting!

Ignorant question: Is there really any benefit to the higher grade films? Seems to me it might be just a lot of extra expense for minimal added benefit.

It’s technically illegal to have the side windows done too in CA I believe, but I’m guessing it’s one of those things that’s seldom enforced unless you do something else to draw the ire of a police officer or they need a reason to pull you over (or tack on one more fine once they do...) Still, there ARE bored cops out there with nothing better to do - I got a “fix it ticket” for a burned out taillight once (but that was years ago). As a counterpoint it seems there’s all kinds of illegal / obnoxious stuff rolling around on the road out there these days (far worse than some window tint) and I never see / hear of anyone getting busted for it. Has anyone here actually gotten pulled over for side window tint in CA? At +/- $1,000 this is a not-insignificant investment and I’ll be none too happy if I’m required to remove it after a week to satisfy some cop out there with an axe to grind...

Thanks all!
0. welcome... forever or until there is dramatic battery technology improvements, whichever comes first.

1. There are basic grade levels, carbon tint, metallic tint, and ceramic tint which costs the most.
There's a big difference in heat blocking, and it's worth getting the ceramic tint.

Within ceramic, there are varying levels with different ratings : Total Solar Energy Rejected (TSER) is a good measure and better films have a higher TSER. If you live in the desert climate, it may be worth getting the better ones.

Other than that, I don't think the high end ceramics are worth it. If you've got extra money to burn, by all means go for it.

2. The California limit is 70% for windshield, side fronts. I've had 50% for many years with no issues, and now 35% on my Tesla (side fronts)
I have the white interior which makes the tint look a lot lighter - maybe like a 45% on black interior(?). I also did the windshield at 50%.
one piece back at 35%, roof at 50%. Note: get the one piece back, not the half back which leaves a terribly visible line.

If you are ticketed, it can only be on the windshield, side fronts. There is no limit on side back, back, roof.
Even then you don't have to remove it, you can just pay the fine.
 

TarmacSurfer

Member
Jun 4, 2021
31
20
Behind the Orange Curtain
0. welcome... forever or until there is dramatic battery technology improvements, whichever comes first.

1. There are basic grade levels, carbon tint, metallic tint, and ceramic tint which costs the most.
There's a big difference in heat blocking, and it's worth getting the ceramic tint.

Within ceramic, there are varying levels with different ratings : Total Solar Energy Rejected (TSER) is a good measure and better films have a higher TSER. If you live in the desert climate, it may be worth getting the better ones.

Other than that, I don't think the high end ceramics are worth it. If you've got extra money to burn, by all means go for it.

2. The California limit is 70% for windshield, side fronts. I've had 50% for many years with no issues, and now 35% on my Tesla (side fronts)
I have the white interior which makes the tint look a lot lighter - maybe like a 45% on black interior(?). I also did the windshield at 50%.
one piece back at 35%, roof at 50%. Note: get the one piece back, not the half back which leaves a terribly visible line.

If you are ticketed, it can only be on the windshield, side fronts. There is no limit on side back, back, roof.
Even then you don't have to remove it, you can just pay the fine.
Thanks TZ!

What kind of fine are we talking about for a tint violation anyway? Minor annoyance category or “OMG lawyer up” category?
Also, when you say “windshield” isn’t that absolutely illegal? AFAIK only Hawaii has no restriction on that and it’s the only place I can think of in the US where I’ve even seen it. I’d think doing the windshield would be a quick way to get the wrong kind of attention (not to mention being arguably dangerous).
 
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techzelle

Member
Jan 14, 2021
130
177
Sunnyvale, CA
Thanks TZ!

What kind of fine are we talking about for a tint violation anyway? Minor annoyance category or “OMG lawyer up” category?
Also, when you say “windshield” isn’t that absolutely illegal? AFAIK only Hawaii has no restriction on that and it’s the only place I can think of in the US where I’ve even seen it. I’d think doing the windshield would be a quick way to get the wrong kind of attention (not to mention being arguably dangerous).
Not sure on the fines, I had a no-front plate fix it years ago. $150 fine or fix it and pay $15 admin fee.
I'd guess a tint violation would be something like that.

Windshield - legally you can tint the top 4 inches only.
In the past I got 70% tint windshield, which is not noticeable. They also make 80% or 90%.

I ordered 70% this time, but the installer messed up and put 50%. I ended up getting it for free. I was planning on changing it to 70%, but with the white interior it looks like 60%. A little dark, but I'm happy with that versus paying to get it redone.

I'd recommend 70%. I think a lot of heat hits the front windshield due to the slope of the glass. While 70, 80, 90 all look clear, the darker the tint, the better the heat rejection.
 

Nichigo

Member
Oct 2, 2020
116
138
San Diego, CA
0. welcome... forever or until there is dramatic battery technology improvements, whichever comes first.

1. There are basic grade levels, carbon tint, metallic tint, and ceramic tint which costs the most.
There's a big difference in heat blocking, and it's worth getting the ceramic tint.

Within ceramic, there are varying levels with different ratings : Total Solar Energy Rejected (TSER) is a good measure and better films have a higher TSER. If you live in the desert climate, it may be worth getting the better ones.

Other than that, I don't think the high end ceramics are worth it. If you've got extra money to burn, by all means go for it.

2. The California limit is 70% for windshield, side fronts. I've had 50% for many years with no issues, and now 35% on my Tesla (side fronts)
I have the white interior which makes the tint look a lot lighter - maybe like a 45% on black interior(?). I also did the windshield at 50%.
one piece back at 35%, roof at 50%. Note: get the one piece back, not the half back which leaves a terribly visible line.

If you are ticketed, it can only be on the windshield, side fronts. There is no limit on side back, back, roof.
Even then you don't have to remove it, you can just pay the fine.
Thanks for this info! Looking to tint soon.

What percent tint are you running in rear windows and do you have any pics? :)
 

techzelle

Member
Jan 14, 2021
130
177
Sunnyvale, CA
Thanks for this info! Looking to tint soon.

What percent tint are you running in rear windows and do you have any pics? :)
35% ceramic tint, one piece, rear window.

Noticeably tinted, but still too visible for me, I should have gone with 20%.

Going to live with it as it's still okay, and removing the tint risks damage to the window defroster.
 

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Snowball316

Member
Mar 15, 2021
109
45
Bay Area, CA
35% ceramic tint, one piece, rear window.

Noticeably tinted, but still too visible for me, I should have gone with 20%.

Going to live with it as it's still okay, and removing the tint risks damage to the window defroster.
did you tint your side windows 35% as well? if so can you post photos? been juggling back and forth with 35% or 25/20% tint.

thanks in advance
 

Nichigo

Member
Oct 2, 2020
116
138
San Diego, CA
20% for reference. Pic was later in the day so i'd say it's typically slightly lighter than this on a brighter day, but not by much.
 

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Snowball316

Member
Mar 15, 2021
109
45
Bay Area, CA
35% side windows, white interior
50% windshield
50% sun roof

20% for reference. Pic was later in the day so i'd say it's typically slightly lighter than this on a brighter day, but not by much.
Thanks i think the 20% helps for reference. I just worried during winter season it will appear to be dark all the time. btw loving your TE37. I have a set on my other car. I should had kept my BBS LMS's but ultimately sold them wasn't sure if the 19s with +32 offset would had fit.
View attachment 691255
another view, sometimes looks darker.
thanks for the 35%. I know its probably going to look darker in the winter time/ during dusk. right ?
 

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