Is Car Window Tinting Legal in California?

With so many sunny days here in San Diego, you might’ve considered getting a tint job on your car windows. Tinted windows certainly do make for a better driving experience: they protect your skin from harmful UV rays, they improve your visibility by reducing glare, and they safeguard your car’s interior from sun damage.

Not to mention, they look cool.

But we understand if you also have some concerns about going through with it because you don’t want to break the law. Is window tinting even legal in California? The short answer: yes, but with restrictions. Let’s break it down to find out what you can and can’t do, and why.

Window tint laws in California.

Why do window tinting laws exist in California?

Tinting reduces the amount of visible light that shines through your car windows. This is called Visible Light Transmission, or VLT. A very low VLT can make driving dangerous, especially at night when it’s harder to see. Plus, in order to avoid potentially dangerous situations, drivers need to be able to see who’s behind the wheels of other cars. So to keep everyone safe, California has enacted laws to regulate the placement and level of allowable tint.

How dark can I tint my car windows in San Diego?

The degree of darkness allowed depends on the location of the window in your car. The back windshield and rear passenger side windows have no restrictions in terms of darkness; the only requirement is that you have side-view mirrors that provide 200 feet of visibility. The front passenger side windows, however, can’t be too dark; they must allow 70% of visible light (VLT) to pass through them.

The top few inches of the front windshield can also be tinted. This is known as an “eyebrow strip,” and it’s useful for blocking glare – and for achieving a custom look for your car.

What other window tinting restrictions should I know about?

Regardless of the darkness of a tint, it can’t be any more reflective than a normal window, meaning you can’t use a tint with a mirrored or metallic finish. In addition, you can’t use just any old color; red, amber, or blue tints are prohibited. And generally, in California, there are no medical exemptions for any of these regulations – the law is the law. But if you have a serious concern, please talk to your doctor about your options.

How do I prove my window tinting job is legal in California?

Manufacturers of tinting films are required to be certified by the state of California. So if you have tinted windows, you’re required to carry a certificate, signed by the tinting company, that lists the manufacturer’s name and address, and clearly states the VLT of the film used on your car.

Now that you’re armed with the facts…let’s get your windows tinted at Stereo Depot!

At Stereo Depot, we know the law, and we can work with you to customize the look of your car while remaining compliant with California’s tight window tinting restrictions. We only use tints from certified, top quality manufacturers, such as Solar Guard and SunTek, and we’re so confident in our workmanship, we offer lifetime warranties on the labor for our tinting services.

To find out how window tinting can transform the look of your car and the comfort of your ride, or stop by one of our two locations in San Diego or El Cajon. Give Stereo Depot a call at our San Diego location at (619) 736-9964 or our El Cajon location at (619) 873-4641.

Contact Stereo Depot

San Diego: (619) 736-9964
El Cajon: (619) 873-4641

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