Product review: 3M Crystalline window tint
Our main product partner, Yellow Hat, provided us with a choice of 3M tints to be installed on our benchmark BMW M Roadster. We’ve had the tint on our car for about two months now, and the summer has been getting hotter.
Shown here is the car without any tint. Money being no object, we went for the 3M Crystalline film. It is the most expensive tint in 3M’s catalogue here, and it costs Dhs 2800 for a compact car. It actually comes in lighter colours only, since it was designed largely for use on the windshield, so if you want darker shades than the four Crystalline shades offered, you’ll have to downgrade to the cheaper 3M offerings, coincidentally saving Dhs 1000 in the process.
We got the lightest 70% shade for the windshield and rear window, and the 40% shade for the side-windows. Those percentages define the amount of light entering the cabin, and has nothing to do with the nonsense percentage ratings that local shops and authorities have cooked up.
The CR70 70% version claims up to 59% heat rejection, while the CR40 40% version claims up to 66%, with both rejecting 99.9% of UV radiation. The CR40 films are a bit thicker, and we were told that it could not be installed on our heavily-curved rear window.
The film is made wet, slapped onto the outside windows and cut into shape, and a hair-dryer is used to shape it around curved glass surfaces. Then the cut film is peeled off and installed properly from the inside on all windows, including the rear glass.
Shown here is the car with tint. There is no magical cure for summer heat, no matter which window-tint brand you use. Some other companies woo people with “space-age technology” but there is only so much that can be done with plastic film. The 3M crystalline tint certainly does help in reducing temperatures inside the car more quickly with the a/c on, but it cools down only a bit better than some cheaper brands.
The real benefit of 3M Crystalline is that it does the heat-rejection job a bit better than cheaper darker films, while also being a shade lighter and more transparent. So there are absolutely no visibility issues at night and the all-round view is almost as clear as having no tint. We didn’t like the “3M” logos randomly stamped all over the film, but apparently some people think of those as a status symbol for some reason.
For a sports car, this would be the best choice, as the clear tint helps visibility during high-speed midnight runs or cloudy track days. And if you want to show off, people can see your face inside your cool car, instead of being hidden behind blindingly-stupid “100%” dark tint.
If you go for tint, always go for a branded one that costs Dhs 500 or more, from a reputed outlet. Tint really does help in reducing heat and glare from the sun, and the branded ones come with long warranties so you do not have to keep replacing it again and again.
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