Since our Chrysler 300 SRT needed window tint, we hit up ACDelco to supply us with the “40%” version of their new ACDelco Shield film a couple of months ago. It comes with a 5-year warranty and installed at Liberty service centres. We also figured this would be a good chance to test how well tint actually does in keeping a car interior cool. So we grabbed an infra-red thermometer and sweated it out in the summer sun.
There are a few things you should know about our car first. It comes with mild factory tint, just like most cars, so the overall tint with film is somewhere between 40% and the new UAE-legal limit of 50%. It has a leatherette dashboard and carbon-fibre trim. And it has real Nappa leather seats and alcantara door inserts. Your results may vary a little bit, depending on how your car is trimmed up.
We measured the surface temperature on the steering wheel, front seat-bottom, front seat-back, bonnet, dashboard top and the ground. We measured with the front mirror-cardboard sunshade on and off, on different days. And we always parked it at the same angle in the same parking lot, because we noticed that a different angle does make a difference. Our car was pointed North-East and measurements were done at 1 pm, although the ambient temperature kept varying by a few degrees here and there daily (which we could not control obviously). A bit of wind was present as well, but it was still humid in mid-August. The car was tinted on the side and rear windows only, as front tint is illegal.
Here are our results, keeping in mind that this isn’t a scientific study with 100% accuracy.
If you can decipher the readings, you can see the following patterns:
- The dashboard gets hot enough to almost boil water on a summer afternoon without a sunshade.
- A foil sunshade will cool the dash as well as the steering wheel down to about 65 degrees.
- A sunshade has no effect on keeping anything else cool.
- The tint seems to have no effect on cabin temperatures….wait, what?
We even verified that our VKool-tinted Jaguar XK has similar cabin temperatures. So we dug around for more research on the subject and finally figured it out. If the car is left out in the sun long enough, with or without tint, it will reach the same temperature eventually. Unlike the opaque, reflective sunshade, the tint is still letting the sun’s rays in, but at a much lower rate (to put it in basic terms). Put another way, the tint is slowing down the rate at which the cabin heats up, but it still heats up to an average temperature of about 55 degrees on the driver’s seat if the parked car is left cooking under the summer sun long enough.
So is window tint still beneficial? Of course it is. By slowing down the effect of the sun, it keeps your cabin cooler for longer during the morning. Also, once you sit inside, roll down the windows to “let the heat out” for about 30 seconds (this cools down the cabin by more than 10 degrees), and roll the tinted windows back up, your car’s a/c will struggle less to keep your car cool. The tint also reduces the direct glare of the sun on your eyes and face — surely you must’ve noticed.
So there you have it. Tint does work, but make sure it is the branded kind with proper heat rejection properties.
Technical specs of the Select 15 / 40% tint we used:
Visible light transmission (VLT): 12% at 550nm thickness
Visible light reflectance (exterior): 5%
Ultraviolet (UV) rays absorbed: >99%
Total solar energy rejection (TSER): 38%