Window tint laws in California?

Window tint laws in California?

I'm taking delivery of my MS in December, and definitely want to get the windows done. I'll have the pano roof, which I know comes very dark. I would like to apply something fairly dark to the back windows, and something lighter in the front. I know CA has laws about not tinting the front. How dark can I go without breaking the law? Anyone know percentages here?

Also, I've been looking at solar adaptive tinting. Is that a possible work around, such that the front windows would have a bit of tint during the day. but would look clear at night?

kawaiia | 25 juli 2013

I'm in SoCal. I'd applied 3m crystalline 40 on the side and back and 70 on the front windshield. No issues with seeing out at night. Great results in reducing the temperature inside the car. The laws states you can't have any tint in the front nor side, but the front 70 is light enough where you can't barely notice a tint. The side 40 are not dark enough to cause too much attention. Apply the tint at your own risk. | 25 juli 2013

The front windows need 70% VLT. One of the things you can do is use a film like Ceramic Air Blue 80 which had high IR and UV rejection without running afoul of the VLT requirement.

BTW, this is what I am going - putting Pinnacle in the back windows and hatch and the Air Blue 80 in the front two windows.


yodasminion | 25 juli 2013

That Air Blue stuff is beautiful. The ever so slight blue tint will give my blus MS a great accent, thanks!

CalDreamin | 25 juli 2013

Window tint law in California

carlk | 25 juli 2013

Same as not hanging front plate, there is the law and there is the law enforcement. Chances that you get pulled over and giving anything more than a warning is infinitesimally small if you're not under 20 or have tatoos all over your arm. Cops usually have more important things to do. You take your own risk though.

kidjay | 25 juli 2013

Just be careful on "Tint Tuesdays" They write tickets for tint on this day!

carlk | 26 juli 2013

You only need to drive Tuesday with all windows down.

I haven't got myself into trouble yet but Milpitas (where I work) cops are known to be ticket thirsty.

DrJayRussell | 27 juli 2013

In the state of California, NO TINT is legal on on the front doors, (without doctors prescription)and windshield. That said, every car I have owned I have put 5 (limo) on rear and whatever the lightest available on the front.

It may be annoying but remember, it s a $15 "fix it" ticket if someone gives you trouble. As an extra precaution, should you ever get stopped, roll down the windows but as has been said, most police officers will not stop you. (They may not even know if the front is substantially lighter then the rear)

DrJayRussell | 27 juli 2013

As a follow up, I found this on the CHP website:

Can I put after-market tinting on the windows of my vehicle?
The main requirements for legal window tinting in California are:

The windshield and front driver's side and passenger's side windows cannot receive any aftermarket tinting.
If the rear window of a vehicle is tinted, the vehicle must have outside rearview mirrors on both sides.
The law prohibits any person from driving any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied upon the windshield or side or rear windows, with certain limited exceptions.

However, legislation signed into law effective January 1, 1999, exempts from the above prohibition specified clear, colorless, and transparent material that is installed, affixed, or applied to the front driver and passenger side windows for the specific purpose of reducing ultraviolet rays. If, as, or when this material becomes torn, bubbled or otherwise worn, it must be removed or replaced.


Hope that helps.

Brian H | 27 juli 2013

No IR exception?

DrJayRussell | 27 juli 2013

@Brian: IR?

Basically it can be clear to block UV.

larryh | 27 juli 2013

Probably shouldn't mention this but: as a person that walks a lot, I hate window tints an wish it were illegal.

It is hard enough to see if a driver is looking my way with untinted windows and is completely impossible with tint.

carlk | 27 juli 2013

The real questoin is how much it will cost you if you got pulled over. I did some search it seems in Santa Clara County it's $25 if you fix it and $200 if you don't. I doubt many would remove the tint film to save $200 or so since the chance that you got the ticket is pretty rare.

Mike C | 27 juli 2013

Was pulled over for going 80 on I-5 somewhere between LA and SF (Santa Clara county?). Cop ended up giving me a fix-it ticket for the front side window and no front plate, instead of a speeding ticket. I have 3M Crystalline 40 on sides and rear and 70 on windshield - he didn't notice the windshield.

The ticket was $50 with proof of correction (both tint and front plate) and $364 with no proof of correction. Luckily, a FOAF is a CHP who signed it off, but I would have just paid the $364 because the 3M tint for the front 2 windows would have cost me ~$200 anyway.

michael.puente | 17 oktober 2013

It seems like there is a lot of mis-information and confusion regarding window tinting in California. I am the webmaster for a mobile window tinting service in San Diego,

Here are the cliff notes version of California window tinting laws:

1) Windshield tinting, including visor strip is not allowed
2) Front, side windows can have tinting that is clear, transparent and colorless. Factory tinted glass is allowed. However, any aftermarket tinting that is not clear, transparent, colorless is not allowed.
3) California does not allow for medical exemptions to tint laws.
4) Rear, side windows can have any darkness of tinting.
5) Colored or reflective tinting is not allowed.
6) Rear windshield can have any darkness of tinting, but you must have left and right rear view mirrors.

Clear, colorless tinting is a good option. However, most of our customers opt for very light tinting on the front passenger windows, several shades lighter than the rear windows. This contrast makes the front window tinting much less conspicuous.

But if you like to stop for a glass of wine or beer after work, then front window tinting is probable cause to pull you over. And that, can open up a whole other can of worms. Please see our California window tinting laws page.

Happy Electric Motoring!

Michael Puente

Jazer | 5 september 2018

In most cases 70% is the legal shade. You do want to use nano-ceramic tint to block out the most heat. I used MotoShield Pro nano-ceramic tint for my Tesla Model 3. New company in the Los Angeles area making a name for themselves. Check out their pretint package for Teslas here: