The Complete Guide To Car Light Tinting

Headlight and rear light tinting is a modification that’s become very popular in the UK and it can completely transform your car. However, not all car light tint is legal because it may not pass an MOT inspection and this is what makes it a questionable modification.

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Car Light Tinting
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Car light tinting is a cheap modification that can make a huge difference to any car. It’s mostly applied using a tint film but it’s possible to use a spray to tint your headlights or rear lights.

Along with the changes in appearance, other benefits that car light tinting provides include a scratch-resistant finish and the ability to hide any defects. However, it’s crucial that you understand that not all headlight tints and rear light tints are legal.

Below we walk you through everything you need to know with regards to tinting your headlights and rear lights.

What Are The Most Popular Tint Colours?

The popularity of the tint colours is highly dependent upon the car light that you are tinting.

For example, the most popular headlight tint colour is a black/smoked effect but other popular colours include yellow (for the classic/euro car look) as well as a chameleon tint. With regards to the tint colour for rear lights, black/smoke is also very popular but another popular option is a red tint.

How Much Does It Cost?

Car tinting in general is a relatively cheap modification but the cost of the tint film or spray you use does vary depending upon its build quality and size.

If you’ve researched the tints available online, you’ll see that there are multiple to choose from but we highly recommend opting for a high-quality film such as the film by the VViViD brand. Not only has this particular film been built to a high standard but it also has clever design features that make it easier to install (such as the natural air-release pattern).

In terms of the cost of car light tinting, the materials are relatively affordable and it may only cost between £10 to £30 for a pair (headlights or rear lights). If you don’t want to install the tint yourself, a professional will normally charge between £60 to £100 for a pair, which should include the tint and labour.

Is It Easy To Install?

Whether you tint your headlights or rear lights, both lights are relatively easy to tint and you’ll be glad to know that they are much easier to install than tinting your windows. As you can see in the image, we recently tinted headlights upon a MK5 golf using a roll of tint film and it was achieved using the following steps:

  1. Thoroughly clean the headlights before application.
  2. Spray a lubricant onto the headlight lens.
  3. Cut the tint film from the roll to an approximate size of the headlights.
  4. Place the film onto the headlights.
  5. Squeegee on the tint film.
  6. Heat up the tint film to help it cure.
  7. Trim away any excess around the headlight.
  8. Allow it to fully cure for at least 24 hours.

It really is that simple to tint your headlights and we highly recommend using a tint film as opposed to a spray. This is primarily due to the fact that it’s easier to remove at a later date and it leaves a better finish to the headlight.

headlight tint

How Long Does It Last?

Unlike window tint that’s installed inside of the car, car light tint is installed on the exterior. This means that it needs to battle UV rays from the sun, road debris and salt upon the road during the winter.

Depending upon the tint that you’ve used, most standard tint films can last between 2 to 3 years whereas tinted PPF can last between 5 to 10 years (depending upon its quality).

As you can see from the below photo, we recently had the pleasure of removing a cheap tint spray applied to the rear lights of a friend’s car that had started to peel. The rear light tint was only applied a year ago but it wasn’t durable enough to withstand the elements and thus ruined the car’s appearance. Luckily enough, it was fairly simple to remove (as discussed below) and it didn’t leave any lasting damage to the rear lights.

rear light tint

Are Tinted Headlights & Rear Lights Legal?

As with car window tinting, there are legal regulations put in place that require your car’s lights to illuminate a certain amount of light. In terms of legality, if your car lights have been tinted and they’ve been dimmed more than 50%, they won’t pass an MOT inspection and therefore they won’t be legal to use on a public road in the UK.

It’s also important to note that the headlights and rear lights must keep to their original colour. This means that you shouldn’t do anything crazy such as a green, purple or another non-standard colour tint.

Another factor to consider is that the tint film or spray must not cause adverse effects on the car’s headlight bulbs. This means that it can’t affect the colour and how the light is emitted through the headlight lens.

Tinting your car’s headlights and rear lights is a “grey area” but it’s important that you use your common sense. For example, you want to ensure that other road users can see your lights in poor or dark weather conditions.

If you want to find out more about the law regarding headlight and rear light tinting, we recommend that you read the government’s regulations (section 4.1.4 (b)), which cover the requirements in much further detail.

tinted headlights legal uk

How Do You Remove Car Light Tint?

Removing car light tint is just as simple as it was to install it and we would recommend using heat as a method of removal. Whether you use a hair dryer or heat gun, simply heat the film up and then pull it away from the edges.

After the removal, you may find that there is residue left on the lens but this can be easily removed too. The easiest method is to use hot soapy water but if this doesn’t clear the residue, you may want to use a headlight restoration kit. Alternatively, a quality polish or cutting compound along with a car polishing machine will have the same effect.

If a spray has been used to tint your lights, a popular method of removal is to use acetone (also referred to as a nail polish remover). However, if you use this method, ensure that you protect the paintwork around your lights. Depending upon the condition, you may even be able to use a pressure washer to remove the sprayed tint.

Conclusion

A subtle tint to your car’s headlights or rear lights can look great but it’s important that you don’t block out too much light. Excessively tinting your car’s lights will limit the illumination of the road ahead and also the ability for other road users to see from behind. On top of this, excessively tinting your car lights is also illegal.

If you tint your lights yourself, we highly advise that you use a tint that specifically states that it’s legal to use on UK roads. Alternatively, you can have it installed by a professional that’ll have tint testing equipment for complete peace of mind.

For further information regarding car light tinting, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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