The Clear Difference
I have been tinting head lights and tail lights since 2008. I have seen my share of stone chips cracking fog lights and faded head lights to the point where light output is next to nothing. How can tinting help? By tinting the lights you are putting a removable film that can help prevent the wear and tear of the lights.
Types of film
Lamin-x and Xpel Ricochet film is thicker than the usual films between 17-20 mil. The thickness gives your head lights and fog lights better protection from stone chips and UV fading. I highly recommend this type of film for the front end of any vehicle, especially when it is brand new. The film can be easily removed and the lights will still look new. This film is available in limited colour’s: Clear, Optic Blue, Yellow, Red, and few different shades of black. The most popular option for head lights is the light tint, it hides the “chromey” look of head lights and still retains 90%+ light output.
When it comes to 3 mil solutions, 3M and Avery transparent films are not clear enough (too foggy) compared to Oracal 8300. The Oracal 8300 is of date the best alternative to the 20 mil option. It is not as clear, nor does it give the same protection as the 20 mil film but it’s just as glossy and still looks good. This film comes in lots of different colours but because of the thickness light output sometimes modifies the colour, i.e. yellow looks like lime green with light output.
All the films are rated for 5 years. I would expect 5 years on tail lights but for the front lights because of the sand blasting effect of driving, expect a good 2-3 years on 20 mil and 1-2 years on 3 mil films.
Tips about the film
The film, just like any vinyl application, need to be installed at a minimum 10 degrees and must not be any lower for the following 24-48 hours. The film expands in the heat and contracts in the cold and this will make the edges lift on the lights. The curing process is crucial during that period of time. If the edge lifts, re-apply heat and stick it back down right away.
Before installing the film on an older vehicle, clean the lights as good as possible and in some cases buff them out with a compound or even wet sand if they are too faded. Remember that the film will protect it so you won’t have to do it again in the future.
Depending on your local law enforcement, tinting the lights on your vehicle may be illegal. This product is to be used at your own risk. I will say that the 20 mil light tint in the front looks completely stock. And have never heard of anyone getting ticketed for it. Thus far only yellow headlights and red fog lights were reported back to me.
I recommend the 20 mil in the front, and either 3 mil or 20 mil for the back. With the newer cars like the Mazda 3 2010+ with the “3d” tail lights, only 3 mil films will work due to the stretching involved.
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