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How To Install Window Tint

This tech article was originally posted at FordF150.net. It is primarily intended for Ford trucks but most likely also applies to other Ford models.

Why tint windows?

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures along the way. Below are two pics, one windows up to show tint, other windows down. The factory privacy tint in the pop-open rear side windows has been tinted additionally to make it quite dark. The rear window remains factory tint. May add a canopy later with tinted glass so tinting of the rear window isn't necessary.

Before:

Photo of truck window before window tint is applied

If you have the patience and a few tools you can do it yourself too!

What you can't do yourself are windows that curve in both vertical and horizontal directions. By this I mean a piece of glass shaped like a round dome for instance. Like the rear window of a new Beetle or an AMC Pacer if you know what I mean. Leave those windows to a professional.

What the pros do is cut the tint in thin strips and place it carefully between the lines of your rear window defroster wires. The plastic tint film cannot stretch so it will not fit glass curved two directions. If you want a window tint job with huge white air bubbles under the tint like some of those goofy people (who will remain unnamed - you know who you are - we laugh at you ) go for it!

Tips:

So... start off by purchasing a service manual for your vehicle. Some side glass such as the rear pop-out windows in the F150 above come off easily without instructions. Basically there are three bolts or screws that come out and you lift the glass off.

Purchase the tint film from a glass shop such as Speedy Auto Glass here in B.C.. Don't buy the stuff from Canadian Tire or other cheap tint film. Firstly it is much thinner than the quality stuff and it will probably fade over time. Plus it scratches easier too.

If it is a pop-off window like that in the picture above you may need to remove either the hinges and/or the latch portions off the glass window pane. This makes laying the tint film easier. Once the film has dried (24+hrs) you can remount the hardware. Take care with a razor and cut the tint film so that the hardware is not sitting directly on the film, rather on the glass. This will prevent the film from moving or introducing air bubbles.

Procedures

For door glass like the F150 above it is best to fully remove the glass from the door. Your vehicle may be different so consult your service manual.

  1. pull the plastic door panel coloured trim off to the rear of the window (pops off) and the triangular shaped plastic opposite of the outside mirror. There are two plastic pins under these locations. Use a pen or nail to push the pin in the centre of these fasteners in about 4-5 mm (1/4 inch). They should be easy to remove now. Pull back on the door panel plastic if they're not easily popped out. Remove them.
  2. Pull up on the power window/power door lock panel. It will pop up fairly easily. Disconnect all the electrical connectors. Don't worry, they only fit in one way when you reassemble it.
  3. reach your finger into where the window/lock panel came out of and from the inside of the door panel push out the round plastic cover that gives access to the door handle fastening bolt. (should pop off easily - this avoids prying it out with a screwdriver which could damage the door panel plastic.
  4. Use an 8mm socket to remove the door handle from the latch mechanism.
  5. yank up on the big grip handle at the top of the door panel. The whole panel will come off. Don't take it completely off the door yet though! At the rear of the door panel is a wire from a light in the door that actuates with the interior light. Turn the bulb socket and the assembly will come off the door panel. Set the door panel aside.
  6. Grab the power window/door lock panel and plug the wiring connectors back into it.
  7. Peel back the grey seal/insulation material on the metal of the door to gain access to the inside of the door.
  8. At the rear of the door panel is a 13mm bolt that fastens the rear window regulator (groove that holds the glass. Remove it.
  9. Roll the window down and carefully pull up on the inside window scraper rubber to remove it. You should be able to do this with your fingers.
  10. Roll the window up about 1/2 way until you can see the rear window regulator bolt that holds the glass. (inside the door). Use a 13mm socket with extension to reach it. Careful... don't drop it in the door. You'll need a magnet on a stick to retrieve it should you drop it.
  11. Pull up on the door insulation again to gain access to a 2inch round hole close to the door handle/power window wire loom. Raise/lower the window glass and you will see access to the front window regulator bolt. Have an assistant hold the glass while you remove it.
  12. Carefully wiggle the glass side to side (inside & out) until both bolts pop out of the regulator.
  13. Lower the regulator in the window by actuating the power window button all the way down for clearance.
  14. Hold the window, drop the front edge down into the door almost to the bottom. Bring up the back edge of the glass so the rear portion of the window is pointing up. Remove the glass carefully up out of the door to the exterior of the door frame. Be careful while negotiating the removal when the two bolts fastened to the window come up with the glass.
  15. Installation is reverse of removal. It can be tricky to get the glass bolts aligned to the window regulator channel. It's best with the regulator raised up half way and try to slide your arm into the door. Have an assistant hold the glass. Before raising the glass after inserting it into the door make sure the front and rear of the glass is in the window regulator channels and fasten the rear window regulator bolt.

Tinting procedure:

  1. With the glass removed clean it inside and out. Stand it up on your "clean" workbench. Make sure the inside of the glass faces you and that it is clean (final wash without ammonia cleaner!!).
  2. Cut the tint film to the correct length and add 1-2 inches front/rear. This will be trimmed later. Do not cut it the shape of the glass yet!!!!
  3. Use a sharp razor blade and carefully try to separate the tint film from it's protective clear backing. If this is too hard use two pieces of masking tape. Apply a piece on each side in a corner and pull each tape apart. This will separate the film easily too.
  4. Before separating the entire film, make sure the tint portion is facing down on your workbench and the clear is on top. Pull it off slowly and carefully. You can use you fingers to hold the edge. Don't press on the tint film anywhere else... it may pick up your finger prints! It generates a lot of static electricity so be careful that it doesn't stick to other stuff on your workbench.
  5. When you have pulled the clear plastic off the tint film get a pump spray bottle with water and one (only 1!) drop of dish soap mixed in and lightly/evenly spray both the tint film and the window.
  6. With the window standing up against the wall on your workbench, grab the tint film on the corners closest to you and hold it up. Gently bring it close to the window so it will cover the entire window and place it on the glass. It can be moved around a bit while there is water in-between. If it doesn't fit, don't worry, pull off the tint film, re-spray both the tint and window and try again.
  7. Once the film is on and the fit is ok (make sure tint overlaps the glass everywhere except very bottom edge where window channel bolts are) take the glass and lay it down.
  8. Get a small rubber squeegee or rubber spatula and starting in the middle of the glass work the water out to the edges. Work in a circular pattern. Don't press too hard! You can see the water as you press it to the edges. When done, do it again until there are no water bubbles or air bubbles under the film. When you've done this around three times go to the next step.
  9. Take a sharp razor and at a 45 degree angle carefully cut around the edge of the window. It doesn't have to be perfect but don't rip the film as you cut it. Discard the left-over trimmings.
  10. Squeegee it again to get any water or new air bubbles out.
  11. Stand it up and let it dry at room temperature for a few hours. Longer is better.
  12. Again, use a sharp razor and final trim the film at the edges. You want to not be able to feel and edge of the trim if you slide your finger across the edge of the glass.
  13. Provided the film is dry do one of the following. If you like the trim as it is, apply some clear nail polish to the top edges of the glass. This prevents the window rubber from peeling back the tint film when you close the window all the way up. Or, instead of trimming the glass at the edge flush, trim it around 5-8mm down from the edge. This will leave a clear gap at the top of the glass. Doesn't look as nice when the window is open but can't see it when it's closed. Don't cut too far from the edge of the glass though, otherwise the tint won't cover everything when the window is rolled up all the way. You'll have to redo it all.
  14. Once dry and finished carefully reinsert the window into the door, front edge first. Be really careful not to damage the tint film while inserting it into the door! See above for reverse steps to removal for installation.

Note: Don't worry if there are some water bubbles under the film. Air bubbles are no good but the water (and there will be some) will evaporate under the tint film in 2-3 days - faster if it's warmer where you are). Don't apply tint film in the winter months. Keep it above 15 degrees C at least.

Extra Tips:

This is due to the fact that in the past a few cops have been gunned down straight through the window tint when approaching a tinted vehicle because they can't see the driver's hands or what the passengers are up to. Have your driver's license & insurance ready to show to the officer. Reaching into your jacket pocket is scary for them. Answer YES SIR, or NO MADAME. As much as you want to bug them about donuts, be civil and you won't have trouble.

For glass that can't be removed (stationary rear side windows for instance):

For stubborn water or air bubbles that won't come out on a flat surface use a tiny sharp pin to poke a tiny hole in the film. Then press the air or water out. Put some pressure on it with a weight or something until the film permanently sticks to the glass if you can.

That's it! Happy motoring.

After:

Photo of truck window after window tint is applied

This article has been generously donated by Peter Ferlow.