How to remove window tint

A sports car with tinted back windows.

Thinking about removing window tint? Maybe you purchased a vehicle with tints that were installed with a low standard of quality, and you want to take them off and start again. Or perhaps you’re looking at an older tint job that’s too scuffed, scratched and faded to do the job anymore.

Either way, removing tints isn’t a challenging project, but there are certainly a few tricks that can help make it go that much more smoothly. Check out our three suggestions for taking down your tints as easily as possible.

1. Sun Soaked

One of the best methods for removing window tint is to harness the power of the sun. No, that’s not a typo — let us explain.

An hatchback with tinted windows is parked in a parking lot.

Tint is a thin film that’s held to the glass on your car or truck with an adhesive. Like most glues, if you apply heat, it loses its grip on the surface you applied it to. Using items as simple as garbage bags and a spray bottle filled with ammonia, you can have your tints off in just a couple of hours.

First, cut out two shapes that match the size of your window from a garbage bag, with a little bit of overlap. Cover the outside of the window with a soapy mixture so that the plastic from the bag sticks to it, then spray the inside of the window with ammonia and stick the second shape on top of that side of the glass. Park in the sun, wait an hour and check out the results: The concentrated heat sizzling through the black garbage bag plastic on the outside will have worked together with the adhesive-eating ammonia to allow you to strip the film off.

2. Get Steamy

If you want to accelerate the process or would prefer to work in a garage rather than outside, you can use a portable steamer (typically used to remove wrinkles from clothes) to heat up the tint’s glue. Removing window tint this way is cleaner than spraying ammonia, and safer than using a heat gun, which is another viable option, but you’ll have to be careful when using hot steam in an enclosed space like a vehicle’s cabin. You’ll also want to be gentle when tugging at the tint to get it started, because if you pull too fast, you run the risk of tearing it and having to start over again with a fresh edge.

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3. Razor Sharp

Whichever method you use, you’ll want to ensure that you do a final pass over the glass to remove any wayward spots of tint or adhesive that might still be sticking around. A razor blade and an ammonia-based cleaner will go a long way toward helping you scrape off your vehicle’s windows until they’re completely clean.

When you apply your new tint, remember to research visible light transmission levels (VLT), material type options and your local laws prior to installation.

Check out all the vision and safety parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on removing window tints, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Be Proactive and Prevent Window Tint Bubbles

The best course of action to protect against bubbling is to prevent them from developing in the first place. Here are some tips to help ensure you don’t get bubbles:

  • Choose the right product. The better the window tint’s quality, the less likely it is to bubble.
  • Have it installed professionally. Professional installers know how to properly adhere the tint and prevent problems.
  • Clean it properly. Use products that don’t have ammonia to protect the film and adhesive. Also, avoid vinegar to clean windows. Products that specify “for use on tinted windows” or plain soap and water are best.

These tips can help remove air bubbles in window tint, in most instances, but sometimes they will still occur. When that happens, you need a plan for removing them.

How to Fix Window Tint Bubbles

If you get bubbles in your tint, what can you do? The best solution is to visit the installer to have them removed professionally. The installer will likely have a policy about window tint bubbles after the install is complete, and you may be able to have the problem remedied with no additional cost.

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If not, consider these steps for removing bubbles from window tint:

  • Warm the window by placing the car in the sun. If the weather is not warm, warm the surface with a hair dryer.
  • Mist the window with room-temperature water to moisten, but not soak, the window.
  • Poke a tiny hole in each bubble with a straight pin. The hole needs to be tiny, and you need to use caution not to rip the film.
  • Make sure the window is still warm and damp, then use a credit card or other straight edge to slowly smooth the bubbles. Smooth toward the edge that is closest to the bubble. Hold the card at a 45-degree angle and move gently and slowly to avoid damage.
  • Dry the window with a lint-free cloth, and check for any other damage or bubbles.

Removing tint bubbles is a tedious process. While not difficult, it is easy to make an error that will damage the window. To avoid this risk, make sure you have the right window tint product installed that will resist bubbling. Rayno’s window tint products are made with superior quality and will stand the test of time without bubbling. When installed properly, you should have no trouble with bubbling over the lifetime of your car. Contact a Rayno dealer to learn more about our quality window tint products.

Reasons to Remove Window Tint

As a car owner, there are several reasons why you may not be happy with the tint on your windows. Some of the most common reasons that people decide to have their car window tint professionally removed include:

  • The window tint is beginning to show its age. Car window tint tends to become eroded and deteriorate over time, so it needs to be replaced periodically. If your tint is beginning to bubble or peel, it’s time to remove and replace it.
  • The tint is changing color. This is another sure sign of aging tint, and it means that it’s time to have it taken off your car’s windows by an auto detailing professional.
  • The windows were tinted a certain way when you bought the car, and you want to either remove the tint completely or replace it with a different tint. If the tint on your car’s windows is not blocking enough sunlight, for example, you will want to replace it for your own protection.
  • A citation or “fix-it” ticket can be issued by a law-enforcement officer if the window tinting obscures the driver’s view out of or the officer’s view into the vehicle. If a ticket like this is issued the window tinting must be removed before the citation can be dismissed.
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How To Remove Window Tinting, Step One: Assemble Some Supplies

To do this job, you’ll need:

  • Black Trash Bags
  • Full strength ammonia
  • A spray bottle (or two)
  • Liquid soap, like dish washing detergent
  • Super-Fine steel wool; the tiny kind, not the wool attracting the most romantic attention
  • A sharp knife or blade; a razor blade or box cutter works
  • Glass Cleaner, like Windex
  • Tarps or extra bags to protect your car interior
  • Sun
  • A couple of hours to let the method do its thing.

What Are Some Other Tips I Can Use?

Removing window tint isn’t rocket science. With a bit of free time and will you can do it too. However, there are some tips you can follow to save time and avoid having to do the same work twice.

  1. Do it slowly. The first thing we always recommend is taking your time. The tint is professionally glued to your window. If you try to rip it off too hard with one stroke, you’ll only end up tearing it into little pieces, which will make your job much more difficult.
  2. Be careful with the defroster and antenna lines. Some people damage their defroster or antenna lines when working on the rear windows with a razor. This won’t happen if you take your time. But to be sure, you can use duct tape to lift the tint instead of using the razor blade.
  3. Try to use a steamer. They’re not very expensive, and you can find ones as cheap as $15. A steamer will save you time but also means you won’t need to use a razor blade to finish picking up the adhesive from the glass. Something your car’s defrosters and the antenna will appreciate!
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