How to Spot a Bad Tint Job

Nothing ruins the aesthetic of an otherwise gorgeous car like a shoddy tint job. Worse still is trying to see through that ruinously bad streak of bubbles between the window and the translucent purplish film that once qualified as tint. As you can see above, my old Mustang suffered from this embarrassing affliction.

After years of going without tint, watching temperatures in my car soar past 130 degrees this summer was a solid reminder of how crucial it can be. I had literally forgotten what it was like to drive in the summer and not sweat, so I went to the tinting pros at 3M to have my annual inspection done. I had a few chats with them about what separates a quality tint job from a bad one. Whether you’re checking out a used car or having yours tinted for the first time, here’s what you should know.

To tell if a car has a quality tint, see how close the film comes to the window edge, and take note of how consistent and clean the line is. A top-notch installer uses computerized templates that pre-cut the film as much as possible, resulting in a line that’s close to the edge of the window pane and doesn’t waver. As opposed to my poor old Mustang, above, where there‚Äôs a significant gap and it looks all-around shitty.

Make sure you check out how clear your view is. Obviously huge bubbles are a no-brainer red flag, but even very, very small bubbles cause distortion. A good tint installer will minimize the risk of bubbles, but if you’ve used a low-quality tint, they can form as early as six months down the road as the adhesive begins to break down prematurely.

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