I enjoyed a moderate tint on my Mk3 Jetta TDI for over 16 years. There were times when the tint was old, faded, or even bubbled at a point or two. I had opted for inexpensive dyed film for both the initial tint in 1998 and the retint in 2006. The dyed film was good for shade and cosmetic purposes. However, today’s ceramic window films are great for shade, cosmetics, and heat rejection. They’re also more expensive, but worth the extra cost. It can make the difference between needing the AC or not… or needing “Max AC” or not.
Virginia law restricts tint to 50% on the front side glass and to 35% behind the front seats. For those who don’t know, window films are rated by how much light they allow to pass. For example, a 35% film allows 35% of light through. “Limo tint” is ~5% and Volkswagen factory glass passes 90%; mine is marked as “E9.” Even with the relatively light ceramic tint (35/50%), the car felt different inside. As I drove home, I couldn’t help but notice how much darker the car felt. It had been four years since the last time I drove a car with tinted glass. I’m still getting used to the “closed-in” feeling of driving in a darker interior.
The interior feels cooler, too, but is it a placebo effect? Sure, it’s not blazing-hot outside yet, but it’s warm enough to notice the difference in heat rejection given by the new film. Of course, the car’s interior is not cool on a hot day… it’s window film, not air conditioning. 😉 But it isn’t extremely hot when I first open the door, either. It could be my imagination, especially since I haven’t seen a 100-degree day with the film yet, but I swear the air conditioner works better, too. It’s no longer fighting against as much heat as it did when the sun could blast through my fishbowl glass.
I didn’t have the small side glass forward of the doors tinted. Yes, there are film installers who can and will expertly tint this glass. However, I’m a long-term thinker and believe that ALL film will eventually fade, bubble, or peel; then will need to be removed and the glass aggressively cleaned to ensure all old adhesive is removed before retinting. I see tinting these windows as a future liability, not a current one. In short, I was perfectly content to leave that glass alone, especially since their tiny frames give the glass a darker look anyway. My glass’s tint transitions from 35% on the rear glass, 50% on the front, and then to the factory 90% on the tiny glass and windshield. Take a look at this photo and judge for yourself.
I had to leave the windows up for a few days, which is standard practice with newly-applied automotive window films. It wasn’t terribly inconvenient; I just had to avoid drive-thrus for a few days. I returned the following week for touch-ups, a time to address tiny bubbles that may have presented during temperature fluctuations, particularly in the curved areas of the rear glass. There was still moisture under some parts of the film, but everything should dry once the summer heat finally arrives for more than a day or two. I have a few flaws that I think may be fixed when more moisture dries. It takes a keen eye to notice the flaws.
One drawback to tinting my Mk7: There’s a sensor on the dash cluster that dims the cluster lighting in low-light situations. I think VW’s idea was to engineer a passive prompt for drivers to turn on their headlights at dusk. Tinted glass shades the interior enough to fool the cluster into seeing “dusk” far sooner than it should. I’ve mitigated the trait somewhat via Convenience Mod that allows me to restore the cluster lighting by turning on the parking lights. It’s not ideal, but it’s easier than doing the full recode for the cluster illumination and helps me avoid burning the Xenons when I don’t have to. I may recode the cluster someday, but I’m not ready to dive into it yet.
I’m enjoying the benefits of ceramic window film so far. I suspect the AC will cool the car faster when temperatures approach 100 degrees. My installer, Sun Blocked Window Tinting, uses film by Hüper Optik. If it’s not available near you, then odds are fair that your installer may carry a similar quality ceramic film in their line-up. If they don’t, consider shopping elsewhere. And, with any film, the quality of the workmanship is just as important as the quality of the film. Choose your installer wisely.
Rolling in Perpetual Shade,