PSA - Do not tint windshield

PSA - Do not tint windshield

Hi all,

I took delivery of my Model 3 about two weeks ago. As a previous owner of a Model S, I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by the finished product. Not only do I have an easier time getting in and out, it’s also a fun car to drive with some really cool features. Unfortunately not all is well in the land of Tesla.

For those who live in a hot and sunny climate and are used to tinting all their windows, including the windshield, don’t. My Model 3 has been at the SC for over a week because the computer fried after liquid penetrated the area between the windshield and dashboard. The problem began after the initial cleaning of the windshield. Although paper towels were laid out on the dash and over the screen, just spraying the windshield and wiping it clean was enough to cause the screen to begin something called phantom touch (google it). This caused the AC to turn on randomly, frustrating the installer and myself as the AC just kept turning on no matter what I did. I eventually I just turned the fan all the way down and figured I’ll deal with the problem afterward as I previously read that phantom touch is a known issue on the Model 3. Anyway, by the time the tint installation was complete, the screen no longer worked. Luckily the car remained drivable but without the use of the screen, all the controls and gauges were not available. I tried to reset the screen, but it was evident that there was some other issue going on here. I drove the Model 3 to the local SC for them to diagnose the problem. So far they replaced the screen and now they are replacing the computer. Hopefully that will fix it, but I’m definitely concerned about this given that just cleaning the windshield can potentially render your car unusable. Crazy.

Now, before people get crazy over tinting the front windshield, I’ve been doing this for years and tinted the windshield of my Model S without a problem using the same installer. In the great State of Florida, it is legal to tint the front windshield due to medical necessity. I’ve been doing it since I was diagnosed with a cancerous lesion on my nose which was successfully excised and replaced with skin from the back of my ear. As I was directed by my doctor to do all I can to avoid direct sunlight, I tint my windshield. I have read on the TMC forums that this is a known issue and some dealers are informing owners on delivery about this so they don’t do it. My delivery specialist never mentioned it and since a users manual was not included in the glove box or on the “About” screen, I don’t know if it’s something I should have known. I did watch some introductional videos on the website but they are very basic and don’t mention anything regarding tinting restrictions.

Hopefully this post helps those planning on doing this to avoid it, but if you have/had any similar issues, I would like to hear about them.

PhillyGal | March 8, 2018

While this is the first I'm hearing such a thing, I find it very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

michael | March 8, 2018

I thought all the windows were coated at the factory to block 99% of UVA/UVAB in which case aftermarket tint is completely unnecessary (unless you want to block the visible light more than stock).

billstanton | March 8, 2018

"Now, before people get crazy over tinting the front windshield". Thanks, I applied the brakes and finished reading. I had no idea there could be a medical necessity. Thanks for sharing.

billstanton | March 8, 2018

@michael:I think that was the roof.

RadOne | March 8, 2018

@billstanton. WIndshields are design to block most UVA. That is also why photochromic eyeglass lenses don't work in a car.

Tesla-David | March 8, 2018

We had our M3's windows and front windshield tinted 3 weeks ago at Shoreline Midnight Tinting and have not experienced any of the problems reported by OP. I also had both our MS windows tinted, and have not had any problems with those tinting experiences as well.

Brian B | March 8, 2018

I don't understand what tinting has to do with the failure you experienced. Can you explain further? Seems like you just don't get water in open ports of the car, but that's not really a tinting issue. Just spray on the paper towels and wipe instead.

johnse | March 8, 2018

I suspect this is an example of correlation not being the same as causation.

I’ve has tablet computers that experienced phantom touches if a different power supply (same specs and for another touch tablet computer) was attached.

Capacitive touch screens are very sensitive and it sounds like Tesla has been having some problems with tolerance on the combination of screen and computer.

michael | March 8, 2018

Water intrusion into the dash is possible with tint applied to the windshield because during application of the film (on the cabin side of the windshield) they first wet down the window with a solution before applying the film. They then squeegee out the air bubbles which also squeegees out the application solution. Gravity takes care of the rest. In any event the windshield itself blocks 99% UVA/UVB because it already has a film coating embedded in the glass (for anti-shatter reasons but also for anti-UV purposes). As do the top/rear windows. I believe it's only the side windows which may benefit from aftermarket tint insofar as UVA/UVB suppression goes...If it were me I'd only tint the side windows for this reason.

PBEndo | March 8, 2018

I have experienced the phantom touch issue when merely wiping the top of the dash above the touchscreen with a wet cloth - no spray bottle or running liquid involved. It did not result in permanent damage, just some random touchscreen activity.

PBEndo | March 8, 2018

I assumed it was a static electricity phenomenon.

johnmann | March 8, 2018

Most types of glass will block nearly all UVB but will allow at least some UVA through. The coatings on Tesla and most other vehicles should block just about all UV. I don't know about your condition, but maybe "just about all" isn't enough to be safe.

Kj11856 | March 8, 2018

It’s illegal to tint your front window below the AS1 line. There are federal motor vehicle safety standards that are clear on this. If you feel the need to tint your windshield maybe you need some sunglasses. You can’t get a medical exemption for this.

TranzNDance | March 8, 2018


Question 1: May windshields and side windows be tinted?

Guidance: Yes, as long as the light transmission is not restricted to less than 70 percent of normal (refer to the American Standards Association publication Z26.1-1966 and Z26.1a-1969).

Kj11856 | March 8, 2018

99% percent of vehicles are already at 75%. You post is mute.

TranzNDance | March 8, 2018

My post was technically correct, the best kind of correct.

Kj11856 | March 8, 2018

Ok. Come to Texas with your windshield tinted and see what happens. Been a cop for 25 years. Zero tolerance for tinted windshields.

phil | March 8, 2018

I can live without tinting, but I would like to be able to clean my windshield, inside and out, occasionally. Visibility and clean windshields are crucial to safety. I hope the Model 3 can tolerate regular cleaning.

RedPillSucks | March 8, 2018

I believe the rules vary from state to state about tinting. What might be illegal in Texas might very well be OK in Florida, where OP is driving.

carlk | March 8, 2018

Wrong advice. It should be changed to don't get windshield tint film from someone who does not know what he's doing. I got both my S and X tinted by one of the best installer in the Bay Area. There were never a problem.

As to those who say it does not make a difference you should just touch one with and one without under the sun to know the (huge) difference. I got PhotoSync 75 on my windshield which blocks probably 99% of heat and IR. You can't even tell it's there even at night. I have no desire to go back to Texas but I wouldn't hesitate to drive the car there if I do.

phil | March 8, 2018

kjar71 | March 8, 2018 "Ok. Come to Texas with your windshield tinted and see what happens. Been a cop for 25 years. Zero tolerance for tinted windshields."

Well, you certainly have your law enforcement priorities in order. I will rest easy tonight just knowing you are out there, vigilantly protecting us all from the nightmare of tinted windshields.

carlk | March 8, 2018

@RedPillSucks That tough Texes cop has no idea what he's talking about. In one post he says all cars has 75% tint in another post he dares people to drive cars with tinting there. People like that gave Texas and cops bad names.

carlk | March 8, 2018

@RedPillSucks That tough Texes cop has no idea what he's talking about. In one post he says all cars has 75% tint in another post he dares people to drive cars with tinting there. People like that gave Texas and cops bad names.

Tesla-David | March 8, 2018

I am with @carlk, tinting makes a huge difference during the summer relative to solar heat gain. Our before and after experience in our MS was amazing.

ReD eXiLe ms us | March 8, 2018

Further proof that even vampires prefer to drive a Tesla. ;-)

Boca Steve | March 8, 2018

A few notes after reading the comments:

1) not 100% positive, but I believe the windshield was sprayed and squeegeed clean so some runoff is expected. I think that’s standard practice.

2) not only did the phantom touch issue occur after the initial cleaning of the windshield, but the magnetic center console covers stoped working as well. I kept pressing them down but they just simply kept popping back up. The magnets no longer worked.

3) tinting the windshield definately helped in the past. If the Model 3 comes with a windshield that doesn’t benefit from additional tint, that’s news to me. I certainly would have rather not tinted the windshield given my current circumstances.

4) I’ve been driving a loaded used Model S (30k+ miles) as a loaner and I definately miss my Model 3. I didn’t realize jus how comfortable and fun to drive that car is until now.

jamilworm | March 8, 2018

I think I agree with @johnse, this might just be coincidence. Many people have reported severe phantom touch issues so it could have nothing to do with the tint.

m3owner | May 6, 2018

I had my M3 tinted a few days ago including the front windshield. When I arrived, the charge port was opening and closing repeatedly which started sometime during the tinting process. It stopped when I put the car in drive, so I left with the issue hoping the air currents during driving would dry things out if there was a short with the sensor.

While driving, I noticed the screen had a phantom touch. At the same time, I noticed my recently purchased EAP had been enabled (maybe coincidence). I pulled over and rebooted the computer doing the double steering wheel button press. Following the reboot, the phantom touch went away as did the charge port issue.

After seeing the report above, I'm convinced the phantom touch and charge port issue were caused from excess water going down the back of the windshield and shorting something out under the dash.

jlvota | May 7, 2018

Tinted mine. No issues.

Daryl | May 7, 2018

I had my windshield tinted to 70% a few day ago. I had heard of the problem with water getting into the electronics in the dash, so I made very clear with the tinters that they need to prevent this. In fact, they brought it up first, said they were aware of this issue and that was part of the reason they charge more to do the windshield. They said they had done several Teslas before and were familiar with the problem and how to avoid it.

It worked out fine for me.

And it is a big improvement. I really noticed the hot sun beating in through the windshield before (I live in Arizona), but it is much better now with the tint.

jerry.fioramonti | May 7, 2018

@Daryl, where did you get your work done?

trevorrichards4 | May 7, 2018

I believe the issue is with an open circuit board that is getting wet when tint is applied. This was previously reported & when I had my tint applied (not to windshield) I spoke to owner & mentioned I heard about problems tinting winsheild & he said yes it messed up another customers car & that he would not be doing windshield until they protect the cut unit board.

Daryl | May 7, 2018

A Better Tint in Gilbert, Arizona

reed_lewis | May 7, 2018

Just don't drive a school bus around Massachusetts that has tined windows....

I drive this road every day...

reed_lewis | May 7, 2018
reed_lewis | May 7, 2018

..and as to the OP's issues. The Tinting did not cause the issues. It was the liquid that caused the issues.

Ken Rad | May 19, 2018

Hi Boca Steve,

Did Tesla fix your Model 3 for free under warranty for your front windshield related problem?

4/8/18 Tesla Motor forum user posted
"The Tampa service center has recommended not tinting the front windshield because water running down behind the dashboard during installation can fry the main computer. They have already had to replace two of them. "

TexasBob | May 29, 2018

Spoke to the 3M Crystalline installer today. He has done several Model 3s, but said that 3M has issued a notice to certified installers telling them not to install any more windshield tinting on model 3s due to the water intrusion risk on the computer.

Agent_86 | May 29, 2018

I just requested a quote from a 3M Crystalline installer in atlanta and received this response, "Thanks for contacting us through the 3M website. At this time we are not offering window tint for the Tesla 3. This is due to the amount of time it takes to complete along with a design flaw in the placement of the CPU's below the A Pillars...these can easily get water in them during a windshield tint installation which is a $10,000 repair. Please keep us in mind for any other vehicle."

SCGreenMachine | May 29, 2018

Now I worry about taking my car to a car hand wash. They often spray the wind shield from inside and start wiping down. What if some of that spray leaks behind/beneath dash?

cornellio | May 29, 2018

I got the same from a local place-- they'll tint all windows except the front.

SC, sounds like a real risk. I always tell them not to clean the inside, mostly to avoid toxic windex chemicals in the air. I do it myself.

ncancilla81 | May 29, 2018

$10,000 repair?
I had the windshield on my 3 tinted. It did fry the computer. Took it in for service. Tesla replaced the computer (no charge) and gave me a brand new 100D S loaner for the 5 days they had my 3

Daryl | May 29, 2018

I had my windshield tinted with 3M Crystalline. The tinter brought up the concern about the computer before I did, saying that he had done Model 3s before and knew how to protect it from the water.

He did, and it turned out fine.

Kathy Applebaum | May 29, 2018

I got my windshield tinted with xpel prime. My installer had done a number of model 3's, and I had zero problems. Love the tint. | May 29, 2018

I realize many of those tinting the windshield are outside California, but with about 75% of all Model 3s in California, worth a note that it is illegal in California to tint more than 4" of the top of the windshield. With the windshield extending up overhead, I'm not sure where they consider the top.

The issue raised is films causing poorer visibility at night and reduced clarity all the time, and over time the possibility of delamination causing far worse clarity. Not sure tinting the windshield is that smart anywhere, but I haven't seen one to comment on if these are real issues or not, or if it is just bureaucracy gone wild.

BURKILIMO | June 23, 2018

I have had our Tesla tinted by Sunshine Control in Sterling and they are familiar with Tesla’s. Front windshield tinting is quite common although I have to point out that the way they did it is by cutting the tint on the outside of the windshield and used a gun to shape it to its contour. After that they laid a metal ridge along the dash inside and placed the tint on the inside of the vehicle. We have had no issues.

GODOFTHUNDER | June 23, 2018

I am wondering if the issue is the static electricity generated from the process?

wade.wilson | June 23, 2018

@ravincent I believe the issue is the liquid being used in the tinting process. If the installer is not careful about preventing liquid from getting into the dash, it can ruin the electronics as liquid runs down the windshield.

lilbean | June 23, 2018

That’s why it’s good to read the responses on the thread.

wade.wilson | June 23, 2018 I think most windshield tint jobs use something like the Llumar Air 80. You really can't tell if there's a tint film.

Here's a video that shows what a tint shop should do about checking for legal limit.