Introduction to Automotive Glass
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, problems in controlling comfort in automobiles is dealing with the radiant heat from the sun. The energy from the sun literally pours through windows and is absorbed by all it touches. The greater the glass area of an automobile relative to its total passenger compartment, the more the potential there is for excessive radiant heat gain. The doors and roof may also absorb radiant heat from the sun, which is then transferred by a process referred to as conduction towards the inside of a vehicle.
One of the most outstanding characteristics of solar control window film is its ability to regulate or control the amount of solar energy that passes through glass. Safety and security protection is another tremendous benefit offered by various types of window film.
History of Automotive Glass
Glass may be one of the oldest known man-made materials. How and when it was first discovered is unknown. Glass dating back to 7000 BC has been found. It is believed that the art of making glass was perfected by the Egyptians. The basic ingredients used to make glass have remained relatively unchanged for many years but the most significant changes to glass making have come in the manufacturing process with the increasing ability to use high levels of heat.
The earliest motor vehicles in the US were completely without windshields or side windows. As the speed of vehicles increased the windshield became necessary and was introduced around 1900 and was made of sheet glass and later plate glass. However, side and rear windows were originally made of clear plastic and later of sheet or plate glass in the late 1920’s, by which time most vehicles had wrap-around glazing.
Benefits of using Automotive Window Film (For residential and Commercial Use)
One of the major contributors to the discomfort of an automobiles interior is the amount of glass used in automobiles and the heat gain and glare associates with it. Sunglasses and visors help but do little to reduce the heat of the interior. Because of this when film became available for automobiles, it was readily accepted.
Today, automotive window films are high performance films which have progressed to all metal varieties with metals other than aluminium which offer higher light transmissions with significant heat rejection. These films also greatly improve the appearance of cars and appearance has become a driving force for the market.
Click here to open the Automotive Window Film Brochure
Types of automotive window film
There are three basic types of automotive films:
• Dyed (non-reflective)
• Dyed (non-reflective)/Metallized (reflective)
• Metallized (reflective)
Category 2 films are commonly called hybrid films
Category 2 and 3 are classified as High Performance films
Category 3 is sometimes called All Metal
Legal Issues with Automotive Window Film
The only films allowed on front windscreens are anti-glare bands that extend no lower than the bottom of the sun visor when lowered, and stone guards on trucks and buses. On any passenger car (Class MA vehicle), the darkest legal tint is 35% VLT* on all windows, including the front side windows (on either side of the driver), rear windows, side rear windows and back windows. Please note that a station wagon has the same classification as a car. Vans, 4WD’s and SUV’s can have any degree of dark tint behind the driver’s door, but the limit of 35% remains the same for the front side windows.
*VLT stands for visual light transmittance. The amount of visible light that passes through a vehicle’s window is measured as a VLT percentage. The lower the VLT percentage, the darker the film. Clear glass has a VLT of approximately 85%.
Vehicles like stretch limousines or hearses have the same restrictions on the windscreen and front side windows, but can have any VLT level of film applied to the rear, side rear and back windows. Any vehicle with a film applied to a window that is further back than the driver’s seat must have external rear view mirrors on each side.
Vehicles with factory tinted glass may have lower than 35% VLT. In these instances, each window is marked as AS3 glass. Mirror film or partial mirror film is not allowed in any vehicle.
Windows can be checked by using a calibrated VLT meter or by using a 35% VLT card, which is available from WFAANZ. WFAANZ installers use labels to certify the VLT level as being no less than 35%. For clarification, simply visit your local WFAANZ window film installer as they will advise you on the most suitable and legal film for your needs.
For more information please visit the Land Transport website.
Click here to download a pdf of categories of vehicle classes.
Installation of Window Film (For Automotive)
Benefits of installing the correct film:
- Professionally installed films look better longer and are usually more likely to perform to specifications for their warranted lives, or even longer, than those improperly installed.
- Professional dealer installers have experience and/or training which can help them to identify unique or unusual circumstances which might affect either the installation or performance of a particular product in a given situation and might not otherwise be noticed.
- The warranties offered on quality films installed by professional dealer installers usually cover costs of removal, costs of replacement film, and costs of reinstallation. Film purchased elsewhere will likely only be covered for costs of replacement film in the event of a problem or product failure.
- Remember that the best film installed improperly or used in a situation where a professional dealer installer might not otherwise install that particular film will likely not live up to the customer’s expectations
- There are strict legal requirements for vehicle tinting our members adhere to those requirements. WFAANZ Members also have access to “VLT Stickers” certifying that the film meets the legal requirements.