Tinting your headlights is a quick and easy way to customize your vehicle. If you’re new to the practice you might be looking to use normal window tint.
However, you need to know what this means for your headlights’ functionality, especially in the long term, so keep reading through this guide to learn more!
Can You Use Window Tint on Headlights?
You can use the tint meant for your windows on your headlights but we don’t recommend it. Window tint is made to be applied in a completely different area of the car so it’s not going to work the same on headlights. However, if you want to tint your headlights, you can look for tints made specifically for this area.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about using window tint on your headlights, including the practicality, procedure and more!
Can You Use Regular Tint on Headlights?
You can use regular (or window) tint on headlights, but it’s not recommended that you do. To understand why, though, you need to look at the construction and placement of windows and headlights.
Car windows are made from laminated safety glass, whereas headlight lenses are made from polycarbonate plastic.
The adhesives used in window tints are made for glass, so they would be less effective on plastic, and when you try to get it off, you’ll find it’s very hard to do without leaving a lot of the adhesive behind.
At best, you’ll have to spend more time or money to remove the residue. At worst, your lenses will be ruined for good and you’ll either have to figure out how to live with it or get your headlights replaced.
Aside from this, the placement of headlights also makes window tints impractical. Car windows that do receive tints are on the sides, so they’re not typically exposed to direct sunlight and heating.
For this reason, window tint is made from materials that don’t have to withstand a lot of heat.
On the other hand, most headlight lenses today are angled in a way that exposes them directly to a lot of the elements.
If you’re using halogen bulbs, which are the most common type of car lighting currently in use, they’re going to generate heat when they’re on, which will accelerate the adverse effects to the tint.
If you use window tints in this area, they won’t last long because they melt easily. Even if you don’t opt to remove them and avoid the issues described above, this will also deform the tint enough that it’s going to affect the light coming off your headlights.
Depending on where you live, this might be against the law and, to escape it, you need to use the information in the next section.
What Kind of Tint Should Be Used on Headlights?
If you want to tint your headlights, you should avoid window tint and go for options that were designed for use in this area, to ensure that the tint can withstand heating so it doesn’t melt.
This type of tint will also use adhesive that’s created for polycarbonate plastic, so it’s easier to peel off when you need to without leaving behind residue.
Headlight tints differ from window tints in the material used to make them. They use vinyl, which is thermoformable, meaning it can heat up and cool down, expanding and contracting without losing functionality.
There are several manufacturers that deal exclusively in headlight accessories, including tints, and you can find their products at reputable car part dealers and websites.
How Do I Put Window Tint on Headlights?
There are two main types of headlight tint: film and spray. To apply each requires a different process and supplies, which is outlined below.
1. How to Install Headlight Tint Film
If you’re going with traditional film for your tint, follow these steps:
- Unmount your headlight housing (consult your owner’s guide or look for online tutorials if you’ve never done it before)
- Clean the lenses gently so the film sticks better. Use warm soapy water and dry it off with a lint free microfiber towel to get rid of any grease or fine dust
- Lightly spritz some water onto the lens
- Take off the backing from the tint and place it onto the lens. Start from the flattest part so it’s easier to align
- When you’re done, use a squeegee to gently squeeze out water and air bubbles beneath the film
- Get a heat gun or blow dryer and use it to help the film cling to more of the surface
- If there’s any excess film left on the edges of the lens afterward, trim it out carefully using a razor blade
- Mount the housing back onto the car
2. How to Apply Headlight Tint Spray
Applying headlight tint spray follows the first three steps of the procedure above where you unmount and clean the lenses.
After you’ve done this, follow these steps:
- Use masking tape to cover the areas around the lenses that you don’t want to coat with spray
- Hold the can one foot away at a right angle to the lens and begin spraying. Move from one side to the other slowly, but not so slow that you coat one spot more than the others. Make sure to coat evenly.
- This type of tint will get darker as it dries, so wait between coats to see if you need to add more. Feel the making tape, not the lens, to check whether it’s dried
- Apply a UV protection coat when the spray dries
- Leave everything for at least 12 hours
- Remove the tape
- Mount the housing back onto the car
Can You Use Window Tint for Tail Lights?
You can also use window tints for tail lights, but the same precautions still apply. You should also make sure not to use too much tint and end up making the colors on your tail lights unclear, as that would be illegal.
To find out more, you can also see our posts on why do headlights turn yellow, if toothpaste cleans headlights, and when to use high beam headlights.
You can use window tints on your headlights, but it would be impractical and is probably going to end up ruining your headlight lenses. Car windows and headlights are exposed to different conditions, meaning that the material used in their respective tints does not function the same.
If you want to install tints onto your headlights, you should look for options made specifically for them because they last longer and function a lot better.