Stereo Depot in San Diego & El Cajon answers window tint FAQs

Window tinting has several benefits no matter where you live in the country, but if there were ever a list of cities where vehicles could most benefit from professional window film installation, San Diego would be near the top. Not only does window tint keep cars cooler in the sweltering summers, but it also lowers energy costs and increases privacy and security. If you’re considering getting your car’s windows tinted, here are answers to our most frequently asked questions:

Q: What is window film?

A: Window film is made of several thin layers of a polyester material that block UV light, heat, and glare. It comes in a variety of shades and performance levels depending on your needs. Film percentage numbers refer to the amount of light that is allowed through the film; the lower the percentage, the darker the film.

Q: How durable is window tint? 

A: Window film is installed on the inside of the glass for maximum durability—there’s no risk of damage from road debris, scratching branches, or extreme weather. Additionally, quality window film comes with a hard scratch-resistant coating to protect from kids, pets, and other everyday use. However, that doesn’t mean window film is indestructible. You’ll still need to take care when loading and unloading objects with hard edges likes boxes or sporting equipment. Fortunately, replacing window tint on a single window is generally inexpensive.

Q: Why is blocking UV rays beneficial?

A: Ultraviolet (UV) rays are dangerous to people and car interiors alike. Long car trips with the sun shining through the window can result in sunburns and premature wrinkles (skin cancer is also a concern), and the same force of energy that burns your skin also fades car upholstery and carpets and deteriorates dashboards. Using window film to block nearly 100% of UV rays will help keep your car’s interior—and your body’s exterior—looking great for years.

Q: Is window film energy efficient?

A: Anyone in San Diego knows what happens when a car sits out in the summer sun all day—all that accumulated heat turns the interior into an oven. But window film reflects the hot sun, blocking about 35% to 60% of the heat from settling inside. That means less energy used and less strain on your air conditioning system to get the inside of your car down to a habitable temperature.

Q: Does window film prevent glass from breaking?

A: Not necessarily, but due to the strong adhesives used to bond window tint to glass, the film will help hold pieces of shattered safety glass together in the event that the window breaks. Not only is this safer for you if you happen to be inside the car at the time, but it also means a much easier clean-up job for you or the auto body shop fixing your car afterward.

Q: How does window film increase security?

A: As mentioned above, window film holds shattered glass in place, but it also increases security and privacy. Darker window films will prevent others from seeing inside your car, which means you can load up the backseat with shopping bags or other valuables without worrying about potential thieves.

Q: What are the benefits of reduced glare?

The bright sun glaring against your windows is more than annoying—it causes eye fatigue and leads to blind spots, a dangerous combination when driving. Window film can reduce glare by 50% to 90%, so even if you’re wearing sunglasses, your eyes will thank you.

Q: How long does the window tinting process take?

Installation typically ranges from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the vehicle type and how many windows are involved. Also, if your car already has window film that will need to be removed, that will add at least 2 hours to the process. But of course, time estimates are just that—estimates. Complications could crop up to extend the installation time, so keep that in mind when scheduling your appointment.

Q: Why do my newly tinted windows look hazy?

A: Don’t worry—this is a completely normal and temporary part of the installation process. The haze is actually moisture that remains between the film and the window glass until the adhesive completely cures and the moisture evaporates through the porous film. This can take up to several days, and in some cases a month or two depending on weather conditions—window film dries fast in hot and sunny weather, while cool and cloudy weather will slow the process.

Q: How soon after installation can I roll down my windows?

A: If windows are rolled down while the film is still curing to the glass, the tint will most likely peel off. So in order to allow the tint ample time to cure, it’s recommended that you leave your windows rolled up for at least 24 hours after installation (some window film installers even recommend waiting 2-4 days).

Q: What should I use to clean my tinted windows?

A: First, it’s a good idea to wait about a week before cleaning the inside of the window (outside cleaning via car washes is fine). Once you do clean it, use a window-specific cleaner without ammonia and a soft cloth or rubber squeegee (not paper towels). Foam cleaners are great—there are even some made especially for tinted windows—not only because they’re usually ammonia-free, but also because they tend to be streak-free. You can also use vinegar and water or soap and water, as long as it’s non-abrasive and ammonia-free.

Q: Why does some window film turn purple?

A: The short answer is cheap film. Quality window tinting brands feature color-stable film that won’t fade to purple. Another mark of inferior window tint is a bubbling effect that’s caused by excessive heat build-up. Cheaper film doesn’t block as much heat, and the adhesives can’t stand up to high temperatures. That’s why it’s always best to have your window tint installed by a professional instead of taking the DIY route.

Ready to enjoy all the benefits of a car window tint?

If you’re ready to beat the heat, scare away glare, protect your belongings and look good doing it, Stereo Depot can help. We offer tinting products from top manufacturers like Solar Guard and SunTek, plus a lifetime warranty on installation labor. Yes, we really are that confident in the quality of our supplies and the experience of our trained specialists.

Stop by one of our two stores in San Diego or El Cajon, or give us a call today at (619) 286-1234 for the best car window tinting in San Diego!