While some may opt for the do-it-yourself window tint, the results can be a bit unexpected if you don't know exactly what you're doing. As a result, most metropolitan areas have an abundance of tint shop choices.
In the San Francisco, CA area alone, there are 30 different tint shops within a 25 mile radius. How does a consumer choose the tint shop that does quality work? What is the difference between a "Dr. Tint" and a "Quality Window Tinting"?
We at TintCenter suggest that you do a little research.
First compile a list of 5 potential tint shops that are likely to do good work. Ask your friends and co-workers who have tinted their cars which shops they chose, look in the Yellow Pages and mark down the tint shops with large professional advertisements. Once you have this list in-hand, its time to interview each dealer:
How long have you been in business at this location? Do you have other shops in the area?
Good tint shops prosper despite other local competition by offering good service at reasonable prices. You should find a tint shop that has been in business for 5 or more years at the same location, this shows a stable business that will be there years down the road if somehow the tint goes bad.
Often times successful tint shops also open car tinting branches in neighboring cities. The installers in the newer locations may not be the of the highest quality opening new shops means training new employees, but branches are a still a sure sign of a successful tinting business.
"Now, take a look at the rear window. Is the window film applied in a single piece or is it cut into strips that surround the defroster lines? The most skilled tint shops always apply film in a single piece..."
What types of films do you carry? What warranty do you offer on your work? Quality tint shops carry complete lines of window film from one or multiple window film manufacturers. They should carry dyed, hybrid, and metallic window films in a variety of colors and darknesses.
Beware of tint shops that only carry one or two types of film, and sells them aggressively. They may have acquired this film on sale, and may not be thinking of your unique requirements and concerns.
The warranty on the car tint varies depending on the window film you choose. TintCenter recommends that you install only window film backed with a lifetime warranty for materials and labor. Most films don't guarantee color and fading, it is recommended that you also choose one that does.
For the warranty to take effect, remember to get only legal window tint for your car. Illegal tint automatically nullifies any manufacturer's warranty. Make sure you get a manufacturer's warranty card from the dealer with the date, the window film used on each window, and the total cost of installation.
Can I visit your tint shop? Can you show me a sample of your work when I'm there?
Tint shops can sound like the best shop on the phone, but 15 minutes on-site should tell you all you need to know.
Good dealers pay attention to customer service. They should be happy and willing to spend the time to talk to you and explain how their shops work. Remember, if they don't spend time with you now, will they spend time with you when there is something wrong with your tint job?
A tint shop's work area should be indoors and clean. Their tools and window films are organized in a professional manner. If the tint shop is outdoors or in a parking lot, this is a negative since it is critical to remove all dust and dirt from the windows before applying window film.
Now take a look at a car they have already tinted. Pay attention to side-windows. The window film should be applied to the inside and be completely flush against all 4 edges of the window. Now look at the window film itself. Don't worry if the film itself looks slightly streaky and discolored, window film takes a couple weeks to dry out and become completely clear. If there are bubbles of air under the film or the film itself is not complete flat against the window, this is a sure sign of sloppy tinting.
Now, take a look at the rear window. Is the window film applied in a single piece or is it cut into strips that surround the defroster lines? The most skilled tint shops always apply film in a single piece. Now look at the borders of the rear window, in many cars there is a black 'frit' edge on the window, Make sure the window
film looks securely attached to the frit as well.
Finally, get price quotes from each dealer for the exact darkness, color, and type of window film you want. Never compromise because there are plenty of other dealers out there that will offer your perfect tint. With these price quotes and your research on each
tint shop, make the decision. Refer to the cost of car tint article to help you rank the dealers.
After you make your decision, remember to always make an appointment with the tint shop before you tint your car. Even if they say "drop-ins accepted" or "bring it over any time", you want you tinter to be calm and prepared for you when you arrive and not rushed.
Tinting may take a couple hours to half a day, so either arrange a ride or go to a nearby coffee shop with a good book. Enjoy!
Harrison Hung is the founder of TintCenter Window Tinting Guide. TintCenter aims to educate consumers about the window film industry, and make tint purchases easy and straightforward.