How To Remove Window Tint From Your Car

There are many benefits of having window tint on your car. Some of these include improving the aesthetics, adding a bit of privacy, or blocking out the harmful UV rays from the sun. 

Sadly, depending on the quality of the tint, at around 5- to 10-years in, you’ll likely need to replace it.  Common signs consist of peeling, bubbling, or discoloration.

There’s also the chance your tint is too dark for local laws, in which case you’ll need to remove it before receiving a hefty fine.

If you’re wondering how to remove window tint from your car, it’s actually pretty simple. Items you’ll need include a heating element (such as a hairdryer, steam cleaner, or heat gun), a razor blade, some glass cleaner, and a shop towel.

Thankfully, in this article, we’ll cover three easy ways to remove window tint. But first, let’s first review precisely what window tint is, and how it works. 

Table of ContentsShow

Window Tint Explained

car interior with window tint
Worker applying tinting foil onto car window

There are 4 different types of tint available today, including dyed, metalized, carbon, and ceramic. Each features a polyester base, a scratch-resistant coating, and an adhesive to secure it to the glass. 

Dyed

Dyed is the most basic and is usually reserved for aesthetic purposes only. Though, it will also add some privacy and help keep the interior temperature a bit lower. While it might be the most affordable, it’s also the least durable.

Metalized

Next is metalized, which is similar to dyed, but features metal flakes in the polyester base. These not only add a reflective quality to the glass but help deflect UV rays as well. The latter protects your interior from sun damage like fading or cracking.

Carbon

The next step up uses carbon rather than metallic flakes.  While this type of film won’t have reflective properties, it will help keep your interior cool on hot days. This is due to it blocking about 40% of the incoming infrared rays. 

Ceramic

Then there’s ceramic window tint.  Ask any expert, and they’ll all agree that this is the top-tier choice for most car owners.  Rather than using metallic flakes or carbon, they feature ceramic particles. These not only block 99% of all UV rays but deflect about 50% of the incoming solar heat as well.

While ceramic window tint does cost more compared to the other options, it also lasts the longest, about 10-years or more.

Now that you better understand how car window tint works, how it adheres, and know the different types. Let’s look at a few signs that it’s time to remove it.

Signs That It Is Time to Remove Your Current Window Tint

Worker applying tinting foil onto car window

As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of benefits that come from having window tint on your car. These include blocking out interior damaging UV rays and keeping the cabin a comfortable temperature. As well as making the sun a bit less taxing on your eyes.

However, as window tint ages, it becomes less likely to work as intended.  Here are a few signs to watch out for:

Peeling or Bubbling

The first thing you’ll likely notice as your window tint becomes worn is peeling around the edges, or bubbles on the surface.  Peeling at the edges of your windows will most certainly spread over time.  As for bubbles, they look terrible and may lead to tears when rolling up/down your window.

Reduced Protection from the Sun

If you begin to notice a lack of protection from the sun, it might be due to having an aged window film. This means that not only will the cabin temperature rise more than if you had fresh tint, but you also risk damage caused by UV rays. This can dry out plastic, vinyl, and leather surfaces and may lead cause them to crack.

Discoloration

Similar to peeling or bubbling, if your window tint begins to fade and lose color, it will detract from the aesthetics.  This sign typically coincides with the previous symptom of having reduced protection from UV rays as well. Oddly enough, as window tint changes colors, it’s usually purple. This is thought to be caused by the degradation of the dyes used during manufacturing.

Darker Than the Local Law Allows

While it’s not a “symptom” of aging tint, it’s surely a valid reason for wanting to remove it.  Typically, you’re only allowed to have a film that reduces incoming light by 50% on the back and rear windows. This is increased to 35% for the driver and passenger windows. 

For the front windshield, most states only allow the top brow to be tinted (about 5-inches), usually 35% or less. Not abiding by these limits is likely to lead to a citation totaling several hundred dollars.

Now that you know how to judge whether your tint has reached its limit.  Let’s look at a few simple DIY methods for removing it.

Method #1 – Hairdryer/Heat Gun

Worker applying tinting foil onto car window

What You’ll Need:

  • Hairdryer or Heat Gun
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Razor Blade
  • Shop Towel

Step #1

Start at a corner or edge, holding the hairdryer or heat gun about 6-inches away (any closer and you risk melting the film).  Move back and forth for a few seconds, allowing the heat to melt the adhesive layer. 

Step #2

Use the razor blade to peel back about an inch worth of the film. Then, while moving back and forth with the heating element, begin to lightly pull on the tint.  Watch it close, it should leave a clear surface behind.  If you notice it leaving a residue, then you’re not applying the heat long enough. Repeat this process until you’ve removed the entire sheet of film.

Step #3

To reduce cleanup, lay the shop towel along the edge of the window, and spray the surface with glass cleaner.  Let it sit for about 15-seconds, and wipe clean.

Method #2 – Steam Cleaner

steam cleaning in progress

What You’ll Need:

  • Portable Steam Cleaner
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Razor Blade
  • Shop Towel

Step #1

Start by laying a shop towel over the edge of the window, this will reduce the amount of time you spend on cleanup.  Using the steam cleaner, spray the entire window using back and forth movements.  Then, similar to the previous method, start at an edge or corner and use the razor blade to peel back a bit of the film.

Step #2

Hold the steam cleaner about 6-inches away, going back and forth, lightly pulling on the film.  It should leave behind little to no adhesive residue.

Step #3

With the shop towel still in place, spray the entire window with glass cleaner and let it sit for about 15-20-seconds.  Then, use the shop towel to wipe it clean. If there is any adhesive left, use the razor blade to scrape it away, holding it at an angle to avoid scratching the surface.

Method #3 – Sun Power

sun

Note: This method works best if you live somewhere warm that sees a lot of sunlight. If these are missing, you should consider using the previous methods.

What You’ll Need:

  • Black Plastic Bag
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Razor Blade
  • Shop Towel

Step #1

Start by saturating the entire window with glass cleaner (tint side).  Then, place the plastic bag over the window and press it against the window. 

Step #2

Shut the door and wait for about 30-minutes. The sun will heat the adhesive, which should allow you to gently pull the tint right off. Be sure to look closely to see if any adhesive is left behind. If there is, you will have to either try our previous methods or spend some time scraping away the residue.

Step #3

Finish by spraying the entire area with glass cleaner, wait for about 15-seconds, and wipe it clean with the shop towel.

A Note About Rear Defrosters/Heating Elements

By rear defrosters and heating elements, we mean the lines going across your back window, as well as the little dots around the edges.  If you’re not careful while using a razor blade during tint removal, you can easily damage these. 

Our suggestion is to instead spray glass cleaner, let it sit for 15-seconds, and wipe it clean. If you have to use a razor blade, be sure to hold it at an extreme angle, as close to the class as possible. Be sure to move sideways along the defroster lines rather than up or down. One mistake can ruin its ability to function correctly. 

Don’t Waste Money – Do it Yourself

wasting money

It’s that simple.  Instead of spending between $100 to $400 to hire a professional, remove your car window tint yourself.  If you have a free afternoon, a shop towel, a razor blade, a hairdryer, and some glass cleaner, then you’re more than equipped to tackle the job at home.

You Might Love These Too

Instagram
Joshua Barrett

Josh Barrett is a writer hailing from the great state of Alaska. While describing himself in the third person is not his forte, writing about any and all things automotive – is. After 13+ years hustling in the exciting world of car sales, he took off to travel the world with his dog Teemo.