Installing window tinting on your car window can be beneficial for blocking UV rays, preventing the upholstery from fading, and reducing heat build-up inside the vehicle which lowers the demand on the air conditioning system.

It is legal to drive with tinted windows in California. However, there are various rules and regulations to follow. Legal window tint in California must have the correct percentage of Visible Light Transmission (VLT), darkness, and reflection for your vehicle. Tinting your windshield in too dark a shade, for example, may put you at risk of facing legal consequences. 

When you purchase a used vehicle at Hawthorne Auto Square, we will ensure it meets all car window tint regulations in California so you can drive off the lot with confidence.

The Allure of Tinted Windows for Used Cars

As long as your car meets the legal window tint limit in California, buying a used car with tinted windows offers perks like:

  • UV protection to protect you and the car’s interior
  • Better temperature control by blocking sunlight
  • Reduced glare for better visibility
  • Improved safety in the case of a broken window
  • More privacy in your vehicle

At Hawthorne Auto Square, we sell a wide variety of used vehicles with tinted front, back, and side windows, all of which meet California’s legal limits. 

California Tinted Windows Laws Demystified

The question of what makes tinted windows legal in California vs. what’s considered illegal isn’t complicated. The rules encompass the darkness, reflection, and color of the film, along with the film manufacturer’s certifications.


The amount of light shining through a window tint is measured in VLT percentages. In California, your front windshield can only have a transparent strip on the top four to five inches. 

Your front-side windows need a minimum of 70 percent VLT. Aftermarket film is permitted on front side windows. It must allow a minimum of 70 percent VLT if you combine that film with factory tinting. Therefore, aftermarket film must allow over 88 percent of the light to pass through it. 

The California Car Laws website also notes that back rear and side windows have no darkness restrictions, regardless of vehicle type. 


California law permits automobile owners to use window tint that reflects incoming light. Such tints can reduce glare and heat. However, there are restrictions on its use. For sedans, SUVs, and vans, both the rear and front window tint California laws mandate that they must not be more reflective than any standard window installed on the vehicle.


Red, amber, or blue tints are forbidden on any vehicle window, and side windows must not have any color.

Manufacturer details

The driver must have a sticker or certificate stating the name and address of the film’s manufacturer, signed by the installer or manufacturer, in the vehicle. 

Other legal requirements

A vehicle with a tinted window must have dual side mirrors, and the film must be in good condition. Any bubbling, tears, or scuffs don’t comply with California laws, as these flaws can impede your vision. 

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Depending on the officer, they may offer you a ticket giving you a certain number of days to have the tint removed or modified to comply with California window tint laws. They may also require you to have your car professionally inspected to ensure compliance. 

You may also receive a fine for having illegal tint on your car, which can range from $100 to over $250, depending on the number of offenses and other circumstances.

Tips for Used Car Buyers: Ensuring Compliance

Hawthorne Auto Square offers plenty of tips for buying used SUVs and other vehicles. When it comes to car window tint regulations in California, we guarantee that all vehicles sold off our lot meet legal limits and come with proper documentation. 

Navigating Certification and Installation

When driving a car with tinted windows, you have to have a certificate that is signed by the manufacturer or the installation company, proving it meets legal limits. This certificate has to show the VLT percentage, the manufacturer’s name, and its address. 

The manufacturer must certify the film sold in the state, to ensure it is compliant with local laws. Buying aftermarket tinting can be risky and isn’t recommended unless they can prove they are properly certified in California. 

FAQs About Tinted Windows in California

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about tinted windows legal in California:

What are the legal limits for window tint in California?

Drivers can have a non-reflective tint on the top 4 inches of windshield. Front side windows can have 70% VLT, and rear side and back windows can be any shade. 

What percentage of window tint is allowed on side windows and the rear windshield?

On the front side windows, the minimum percentage is 70% VLT, and on the rear side windows and rear windshield, you can have any darkness you wish.

Are there different regulations for front and rear windows? 

Yes, the rear windows can be tinted any shade, while the front side windows must allow at least 70% of light to shine through, and the front windshield can only have the top 4 inches covered in a transparent strip.

Is there a specific tint limit for the front windshield?

Yes, the AS-1 line is four inches from the top of the windshield. You can only have a transparent strip here, without any opaque lettering or visibility distortion. Regulations state that the material’s lower edge has to be a minimum of 29 inches above the driver’s seat.

Are there any exemptions to the legal window tint limit in California?

Yes, there are exemptions to window tint laws in the Los Angeles area. Since September 2017 (per Assembly Bill No. 1303), state law has allowed medical exemptions regarding lower tint on all vehicle windows. Those exempted may install a clear, colorless film on the windshield, as well as side and rear windows if they have a written statement from a licensed physician. 

Balancing Aesthetics and Legality

While having tinted windows on your used car may provide your vehicle with a mysterious air and additional privacy, you must abide by all California window tint laws. 

Window tinting can be used to reduce UV ray damage, glare, and heat build-up in your car, but it cannot be too dark or too reflective, nor can it be torn, bubbled, or damaged in any way, as your vision could be dangerously obstructed. 

Following these simple rules will allow you to put the perfectly tinted window film on your car, so you can reap the benefits without facing serious legal or safety consequences. 

Purchase Your Next Used Vehicle at Hawthorne Auto Square

Hawthorne Auto Square offers a large inventory of used cars with modern features and options, that are well-maintained, and available for less money than a new vehicle. 

We perform thorough inspections and make all necessary repairs before putting the vehicle up for sale. Because we are a CARFAX® Advantage™ dealer, you can purchase or lease your next used car with confidence. 

Hundreds of low-mileage vehicles are in stock now, all 2006 or newer. We also offer vehicle maintenance services, along with pre-approval and in-house financing, accepting all forms of income regardless of your credit history. 

Can’t pay now? Take five months to build your down payment so you can choose from any one of our quality used car options.

Contact Us Today

For more information, contact us online or at (866) 707-7664. We proudly serve the Hawthorne and Los Angeles areas, with excellent customer service and more than 25 years of experience. You can trust us to find the perfect used vehicle for you, at the right price.