Night driving visibility with tinted windows

We are considering buying a Subaru Outback 2001 but it has tinted side and rear windows. (Our much loved Honda Accord, 1987, 425k, miles, is giving it up.) We are concerned that the Subaru’s window tinting will reduce our ability to see what’s out there, especially at night. What’s the story? Also can tinting be removed from car windows?

Can’t tell without seeing it. If it’s factory tint it shouldn’t be a problem. Aftermarket can be. Drive it at night and see.

Can you test drive it after dark? How is your night vision?

If you’re unsure, than I’d suggest that if you’re concerned it’ll probably be a problem. I was unaware until recent surgery of just how much my cataracts were preventing light from entering my eyes and affecting my night vision. But my gut told me that my night vision was poor. But after the surgery I was stunned at how poor it had really become. Our guts can be pretty good indicators of whether something is a good idea or not.

It truly depends on the level of tinting. In most states a 35% tint is allowed on all windows except the windshield, so if the tint on the vehicle you are considering is lower than that, you may want to avoid this one because you could get a ticket for it.

BTW, tints are measured by the amount of light they transmit, so a 35% tint allows 35% of the light that hits it to be transmitted through it, 65% is reflected or absorbed. This is the most common tint. Some tints are as low as 5%, they are called Limo black.

There is a lot more to tints than just the transmissivity number though. Some tints tend to be more reflective and help reduce the heat build up inside your vehicle. Most cars today have “solar glass” which has a heat (IR) reflective tint in them. The tint passes a lot of the visual spectrum that you can barely see that it is tinted. When I bought my truck, it did not have this solar glass so I put a 40% solar tint on all the windows and you can’t tell its there, but it sure made a difference inside the truck for comfort in the summer

Beware that some 35% tints on solar glass may not be legal in some states because the total transmissivity of the window would be below the threshold. I actually used a 38% on my saturn for this reason.

Now here is something else that is interesting, but the color of your car makes a difference to the appearance of the tint. My Saturn is silver blue with a light grey interior and the windows hardly look tinted at all, but my son’s car is black with a black interior, he has the same tint, done by the same shop and he gets stopped occasionally for a “tint check” because it appears to have limo black tint. It always passes though.

A proper tint can actually improve night vision. It helps by reducing glare off you side view mirrors from vehicles behind you, you can’t just flip a side view mirror to the night position and I don’t think anyone offers a self dimming side view mirror.

You can use a dark or limo black tint along the top of your windshield down tot he AS-1 mark or 6" from the top. This is really great if you have an early morning or late afternoon commute that has you looking into the sun. Before I retired, I had this situation and the tint strip was a godsend, but be aware that it does attract the attention of the police and they don’t seem to like them.

And that is the last point I want to make, a tint that is real obvious will attract attention from law enforcement, especially the darker tints. With the number of cop shot by a driver being pulled over, they are justifiably cautious when approaching any vehicle, but tinted windows are the worse for them. In Tennessee, they can make you exit your vehicle at gunpoint if they cannot see into the vehicle and they are more likely to call for backup before approaching your vehicle, so if you are speeding, you could be at the side of the road much longer than normal before you get your ticket.

Is this factory tint or aftermarket tint? If it’s aftermarket, it can probably be removed with some work or expense. Also, if it’s aftermarket, it actually might be illegal in your state, so check on that.

Factory tinting was not a problem in the past when sealed beam headlights were used. The lights were a lot less powerful than those of today.

We have two cars with tinted glass, and visibility allround is no problem. Most people driving behind you have these more powerful lights as well. So tinting on the rear and side actually helps reduce glare.

However, this after market stuff can be real dark, and is in many areas illegal.

Aftermarket tint films can be removed with ammonia. It will peel right off.