How To Make Sure You Get a Great Window Tinting Installation
There is just so much to discuss when it comes to window tinting. There’s the law side of it and whether or not it’s even legal in your state.
Then there are the darkness levels and what you need it for.
Are you looking to cut heat? Interested in reduced visibility from the outside for the safety of the occupants?
I always felt that when it came to window tinting, you needed to educate the customer about the tint first.
Many people just assume that the customer really knows what they want when they walk through the door. Customers are paying the professional tint installer for their expertise and to guide them towards the best choice in window tint for their car.
Usually, though, they just have an idea that needs to be molded into what they are really interested in. The worst situation is one in which a customer decides on a window film that they don’t like after it’s installed.
Part of the education process is to choose a film manufacturer that utilizes the technology that best solves the problem you are attempting to fix.
- Need to reduce infrared and UV radiation entering your home or vehicle?
- Need to cut your energy consumption and increase comfort?
- Need a darker window tinting film to limit the visibility of the interior?
- Want more visibility and less reflection but still maintain the heat and UV protection offered by the darker window tinting films?
- Need a hard coat, scratch-resistant film that offers many or all of the above highlights? (these are great for mini-vans with children that tend to scratch window tinting film with metal items)
- Want more safety and security in preventing burglary and shattered glass by installing window tinting film?
All of these features and more can be found in the hundreds of different manufacturers of film. By far the largest manufacturer of window tinting film is SolarGard. No matter what kind of film you are looking for, this company will have it. We installed SolarGard for years and never had a problem with it.
Because of the volume of window tinting installations that we did, we were always getting free products from other companies. We tried them, even the super high priced products that guaranteed everything that could possibly go wrong.
None of the other window tinting films ever matched the price and ease of installation that comes with window tinting films from SolarGard. They even offer an excellent warranty regardless of whether the window tinting films are installed on either your car, home or office.
SolarGard’s most popular window tinting film product lines included these films:
- HP Metallic’s, Charcoal, Smoke, Gray & NR Black
- All darkness percentages from 6% Limo Black, 13%, 32% & 50% & 60% lighter films.
- ArmorCoat Security and Shatter Resistant Films
SolarGard offers a manufacturers lifetime warranty on residential installations and a 15-year warranty on commercial film installations.
Whatever the need, they’ve got a film solution for you!
Expert Auto Window Tinting Starts With The People Installing The Film!
A good installer will have several years of experience and handle your window tinting film installation with expert results. Some things to look for in your installer:
- One-piece back window installs. Not the two, three or more pieces that many new or inexperienced shops like to try and sell you as “professional” installation. It looks like crap, plain and simple. It’s a simple rule of thumb, one-piece back window tinting and that is the only way you will accept it.
- Pull door panels and tint the entire window. No cuts along the molding to get it done fast and out the door.
- Micro edge installs on side windows. You should only have a gap about 1/16th of an inch maximum at the top of your window. That’s the sign of a true professional installer. If you have a gap at the top of your window that’s larger than the width of one of your thinnest car keys, take it back and make them do it right or ask for your money back. Or don’t accept it and make them take it off so you can find a real professional window tinting shop.
- No “fingers” or “creases”. These are the white lines in the film, usually on the back window but if you have a really bad installer they might even be on the side windows. This is caused by an inability to properly heat shrink the film and is a good sign of inexperience with the installation of window tinting films.
- No bubbling, peeling or turning purple. This is the sign of a cheap window tint film. The better films offer lifetime warranties for their metallic window tinting films. Your installer should also have their own warranty for small problems that may occur with the installation. When you are initially deciding on the film, your shop should offer you both metallic and non-metallic choices.
- Authorized Dealers are Better To Work With. What kind of window tinting film does your installer actually use? Are they an authorized dealer or do they just buy it online from wherever the cheap film is available this week? Our shop is an authorized dealer of SolarGard and Armorcoat films, manufactured by Bekaert Specialty Films (BSF) the world’s largest manufacturer of window tinting film. The warranty certificate you receive from us actually is a lifetime warranty certificate issued by BSF and it is transferable to the new owner of the vehicle or home if you sell it. That’s a lot more than simply advertising “Lifetime Warranty”. Plus, we further back our own window tinting film installations with our own warranty, “If there’s a problem, we fix it until you are happy”. Fairly simple, we just want our customers to be happy.
- Do they do their own installs or sub the work out to others? At most shops the owner of the shop is the main window tinting installer and trainer. His name is on the shop and the work that the shop puts out so he should be directly involved in each project the shop works on.
- Some shops sub out their work to contractors. Sometimes this works out because the contractor may be a fantastic installer, just make sure to find out who is backing the warranty on the window tinting film installation. If you have a problem you don’t want to have to argue with the shop when they tell you they can’t find the installer anymore because he’s not answering his phone or is now working as a mechanic somewhere.
- Is this the shop’s main business or a side deal? You need to seriously consider this when you are looking at the company installing your window tinting film. Is this all they do? I’d be more interested in dealing with a detail shop that installs tint than a stereo installation shop that just happens to put a banner outside advertising tint because they think they can install it. The stereo shop probably deals with headrest tv’s, satellite radio, rims, etc. What do you think their priority is going to be when you need a window fixed and they have a guy that needs $3 grand rims installed on his hummer at the same time standing next to you? Most tint shops also do detailing. If a detailer starts doing window tinting installations then they usually make it a priority like the detailing. You can make a ton of money doing window tinting installations and the hourly rate is much higher than detailing. So what do you think the priority will be if you need something fixed at the detail/tint shop versus the stereo installation place that you got it done at?
Window Tinting Film Removal Services: This is kind of the redheaded stepchild of the window tinting business and I’m not sure why. It is a pain in the butt to remove the tint. Some detailers I know charge $50 to $75 an hour to remove it just simply because they don’t want to do it.
Here’s the thing though, it’s not that hard to remove window tinting film if you do it right and have the right tools and techniques. The average price you should pay for window tinting film removal should be in the neighborhood of $150 on the high end. Shops that charge by the hour are just blowing smoke at you making it seem like it’s a big process. It’s a labor-intensive, pain-in-the-rear process, but a good tint or detail shop should be more than able to remove it efficiently. Want to know what to look for in a window tinting film removal service?
- No scratches. If your shop removes window tinting film from your windows and they leave behind scratches on the window, then they screwed-up. You should never scratch the window on either an install or removal. That’s what insurance is for and if your window tinting film installer or remover did the damage they should own up to resolving it for you to your satisfaction.
- No light areas or missing defrost strip lines. This is the reason most shops don’t want to remove your window tinting film – the dreaded back glass defrost wiring. This is where that pain-in-the-rear part comes in. I’ve actually heard of some shops taking razor blades and trying to remove the tint without hitting the defrost lines on the back glass. It never works and the customer will be back when sections of their back glass aren’t getting defrosted in the winter because you cut the strip when you removed the tint. The glass should be heated and the window tinting film steamed off. This is the safest most effective way to remove window tinting film. If your shop tells you they use steel wool, they are ripping the window tinting film off the glass and scrubbing it with “00” grade steel wool to take the glue off. It works but you may have the same problem with the defrost lines. Most of the time they will scrub those off in the process.
- Warranty for the window tinting film removal? This brings us to the warranty. This is more important than you think. Most people just assume the job has been done right and don’t worry about it. When you have your tint removed in July and then in December the rear defroster isn’t working, what are you going to do? Do you think the installer is going to pay to have new defrost lines installed on your car 6 months after the work was done? Probably not. This is where getting some kind of written warranty from the installer along with a copy of their insurance is important.
Is your window tinting installation shop insured? This is the last and sometimes most important part of the tint installation. Why ask this? What happens if something is wrong down the road that you didn’t discover when the installation happened? Did you get a copy of the shop’s insurance certificate? Did you call to make sure it was current when you got the job done? Our regular customers all got copies of our current insurance certificate. Check out our liability insurance information page for more information about what kind of insurance your shop should have. Most of our customers demanded a copy when they started using us mainly because they wanted to know that their $90,000 BMW was going to be replaced if the building burned down while it was with us. But then again, if your installer melts the interior side panel trim while trying to fix a small part of the back glass you need to know that you have a backup and that their insurance is going to cover any damage if you can’t get them to pay.
The only other option is to sue them in court. Insurance will usually pay for it without questioning even if the shop doesn’t want them to pay as long as you can prove the work was done and that the shop caused the damage. When you are having window tinting film installed, there are so many ways to scratch a window, cut car interiors with razor blades, break glass with high heat, melt the window trim with heat guns and much more. Now if you didn’t get a copy of the insurance certificate then the shop won’t necessarily want to show you that after the job is done if they have screwed-up something. When they are trying to get your window tinting business they will give you anything you ask for just to get you in the door and get paid. There is really no way to force them to give you a copy of theirinsurance certificate after the work is completed.
Payment of the job before or after? This is a tough call with most detail and window tinting shops. Many shops will get you to pay before the job is even started. Why? To make sure they are going to get paid. Here’s the problem with that thinking. When you get your car worked on at a mechanics shop, do you pay in advance? No. If the mechanic doesn’t get paid they have what they call a mechanics lien in your car. If you don’t pay them, they go to the magistrate and the magistrate will give them a lien that is on the car and attached to your title. Then they can force you to sell the car and pay them back.
Most of the time they will also hold the car and not let you take it until you pay, which they are technically not entitled to do, but nobody ever really argues that point.
I have heard of situations though where a window tinting shop customer was unhappy with the job and wouldn’t pay, then they called the police when the shop refused to release the car. The police immediate forced the shop to give the customer his car back because the shop had no legal right to hold it. Police officers will simply tell the shop owner to sue the customer in court, but it is illegal to detain the customer or their property in order to force payment. This is why mechanics shops have to go get a mechanics lien, which detail and window tinting shops also have a right to do. So really there’s no reason to be paying upfront.
If your shop asks for payment upfront, ask them why and tell them you aren’t comfortable with those terms. Tell them you pay for services once they are rendered and if they are worried about the payment they shouldn’t be since they have your car. If they insist, go somewhere else. That might be a sign that they are having financial problems and just trying to get money in the door as fast as possible. Also, pay by credit card. I’ve seen many customers come to our shop to have us fix something that another shop did and they paid by cash.
If you do that, there’s no recourse. Even if you sue them at the magistrate it doesn’t matter if the shop is incorporated since it only goes against the shop. If the owner isn’t backing the job he did then there’s probably a chance he’s got other people who have already sued him so you’ll probably have to stand in line.
With a credit card, all you do is call the issuing bank and demand a chargeback. The shop will have a chance to fight the chargeback and they should have this right since they did the work. But if they aren’t going to fix the problem, many times the only way you have to force their hand is to charge back the money and go somewhere else to have it redone. Also, if possible it’s better to pay with an actual credit card versus a debit card because it’s harder to get your money back with a debit card.
So in conclusion, here are the highlights of what you need to look for and do when getting a window tinting installation done:
- Find a shop that can either show you work they’ve done or prove that they only do one piece back glass, micro-edge installs and no creases;
- References are nice, but most of the time the shop will simply give you their friends numbers to call. Would you want your customers being bothered if you owned the shop? Look at the owner’s car and the employees’ cars if you really want to see the work they do, that will be there best work. People that work in detail and window tinting shops love their cars and they show off their skills on their own vehicles;
- Ask for a copy of the shop’s warranty certificate and see if it is issued by the manufacturer of their window tinting film and make sure you get a copy after the work is performed;
- Ask if your window tinting film installer is an authorized dealer for the window tinting film manufacturer. Most of the time the manufacturer has done at least limited background checks on the shop and the owner to approve them as a dealer;
- Get a copy of their insurance certificate BEFORE you allow them to do anything on your car. Have them fax you a copy before you even come in so you can call and make sure it’s current;
- Pay for the work AFTER the job has been completed and pay by CREDIT CARD to protect yourself;
- Lastly and most importantly, if you aren’t happy with the job they’ve done get them to redo it. If you order food at a restaurant and you complain about a hair floating in your soup do you accept when they tell you “well that’s acceptable according to our industry performance standards.” No, you tell them to get you a new soup or something else.
- Window tinting installation is no different. There shouldn’t be hair and dirt under the film as the shop should take precautions to clean the environment before the film is applied. Make them redo the job or tell them to take it off and you’ll take it somewhere else.
Pricing for window tinting installation really depends on your area. If you live somewhere that’s warm year-round like Phoenix, the competition is going to be on fire.
You’ll be able to find some great prices for real quality work if you check around. On the other hand somewhere in the middle of South Dakota is going to be a lot different. Your average tint job on a standard 4 door car is going to run anywhere from $150 to $300. This also depends on the type of window tinting film and the warranty. I’ve heard of places that charge $600 and others down south that are throwing cheap tint on cars for $59. So these prices really are dependant on many other factors. If you follow the criteria I’ve listed above for you it shouldn’t be hard for you to find a good window tinting film installer and get the job done right for a reasonable price.
Window tinting looks fantastic on a vehicle. It improves gas mileage by allowing your air conditioner to work less and makes the interior occupants more comfortable. Most tint shops are great places and the people who work there really take pride in their work and want to show off pictures of your car to other people and boast of their abilities. Just take a few precautions to protect yourself on the backside of the transaction and your experience getting your car tinted should be an enjoyable one that will give you years of use.