Q&A: Can You Tint The Windows On A Leased Car?

Male worker with blade, car tinting film installation process, tinted auto glass installing procedure

Tinted windows are one of the most effective ways to improve the privacy of your personal vehicle.

They also do a remarkable job reducing the heat going through your windows. Drivers in the southern states, especially those who park on the street, will appreciate how much cooler their cars are with window tint. The air conditioning has an easier job too, improving overall fuel economy.

There is also a long-term benefit to window tinting: It helps preserve the value of your vehicle.

The sun’s UV rays damage plastic, rubber, leather, and other fabrics, causing the entire cabin to fade and wear out more quickly. Window tint blocks the majority of UV light, protecting your interior and maintaining the value of the car.

There’s hardly an argument against tinting your windows if you own your vehicle.

But what if you lease your vehicle? That’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

Are Tinted Windows Legal?

It depends. Each state has its own legislation regarding tinted car windows.

For example, New Jersey doesn’t allow any window tinting on the driver and passenger side windows, but it has no restriction for the back windows and rear windshield.

New York and California allow a maximum of 30% tinting, meaning that the plastic film can only block 30% of the light going through the glass. The remaining 70% of light must pass through the glass. On the other hand, New Mexico allows you to put 80% tint on all your rear and side windows, meaning only 20% of the light can come through the film and into the cabin.

side of a black car with tinted glass

Your local window tint shops and your dealer should be acquainted with the state legislation, but you’re responsible for the fine if they get it wrong, so be sure to double-check.

Can You Tint the Windows on a Leased Vehicle?

The window tinting policy for your leased car is entirely dependent on your specific dealership and manufacturer. Check your lease contract or call your dealer for specific details on window tinting and other upgrades.

The majority of dealerships rely on the preliminary and final inspection to assess whether the window tint is acceptable.

Typically, a professional window tint job is considered an upgrade that increases the value of the vehicle. Thus, if you return a vehicle with good quality window tint, most dealers will accept it without any trouble.

However, if you return the vehicle with a botched window tint, perhaps a DIY attempt that left some bubbles or awkward edges, expect a charge to remove it.

Can I Ask My Dealer to Tilt the Windows of My Leased Car?

Yes, many dealerships offer window tinting as a part of their detailing services. Ask if they can perform the upgrade for you.

If the dealer installs your window tint, you can rest assured that no problems will arise during the final inspection.

Keep in mind that dealerships aim to return a profit on any service they perform, therefore they may not offer the best price available on the market, but the price also includes your peace of mind.

What About Using a 3rd Party to Tint the Windows?

There is nothing stopping you from sourcing a 3rd party to install a window tint on your leased car, but you’ll want to ensure the person/company can perform a professional service that will guarantee lasting results.

There are many reputable detailing shops that will do a remarkable job on your window tint. We recommend you get some quotes, compare reviews, and make an informed decision.

Installing car window tint

The cheapest option may end up costing more if it’s not done well and the dealership charges you for window tint removal. So, keep that in mind.

Can I Tint the Windows on a Leased Car Myself?

Window tinting requires only basic tools and materials, plus it’s an easy-to-grasp concept. Technically, there is nothing stopping you from doing it yourself, and, if you’re handy, you might just do a passable job.

However, good, long-lasting results require a level of craftsmanship only acquired through practice.

The quality of the window tint depends entirely on window preparation, which includes meticulous cleaning. Any tiny particles or dust left on the window will cause pockets and bubbles in the film, leaving a botched finish.

Applying the tint to the top and bottom edges of the window can be especially hard to get right. The film contacts other parts of the door as the window is rolled up or down and may get contaminated, peel off or get crumpled. Sometimes, it’s necessary to disassemble the door panel to properly install the tint.

Last but not least, you’ll be working with sharp tools. If you’re inexperienced, you can accidentally gouge the glass or cut the window’s rubber seal, allowing moisture to penetrate and potentially cause damage.

As you can imagine, the devil is in the details. A DIY installation can produce awful results and even cause damage. Obviously, the latter will result in a significant charge when you turn in your leased vehicle.

We don’t recommend installing your own window tint unless you have experience working on cars, specifically car windows.

Will the Dealership Make Me Remove the Window Tint Before I Turn In My Leased Car?

This really depends on the final inspection. If the assessment determines the window tint does not match, it’s of lower quality, or there is damage to the glass, you will either be forced to remove it or charged by the dealer. And in some cases, both penalties will occur.

Typically, there is a pre-return inspection 90 days before the lease return date. This inspection aims to inform you about all the problems with the vehicle, so you can rectify them and avoid excessive charges at the end of lease.

During your pre-return inspection, ask your inspector if they think the window tint is acceptable or if you need to remove it.

If you’re wondering if you should go with the dealership or use a 3rd party to remove the window tint on your leased car, consider this: It’s almost always cheaper to shop around in advance and fix problems highlighted in the pre-return inspection – window tint included.

Can I Be Charged for Tinted Windows at the End of the Lease?

Yes. Sharp blades are used during tint installation and removal. If the blade is made of the wrong material (too hard) or if too much pressure is used, it can scratch and gouge the glass.

If the final inspection determines you have caused damage to the glass or if the quality of the window tint is unacceptable, you will be charged for its removal and/or repair.

Can I Remove the Window Tint on My Leased Car Myself?

Removing window tint is considerably easier than installing it. Following the proper procedure makes the risk of damaging the glass negligible.

You need a heat gun or a good hairdryer to heat the film and loosen the glue. If you get it right, you can peel the film off in one or two big pieces. Then you need to clean off any glue residue, taking care to not scratch or gauge the glass.

Removing old car tint film

Handy people can easily remove window tint themselves to save some money.

How Does My Manufacturer Feel About Window Tint?

Below, we’ve included the window tint and glass policies from the majority of vehicle manufacturers available on the US market. Your lease provider may be a different financial institution not available on this list.

Always consult your leasing company when you have questions about modifying your leased vehicle.

  • Ally – Ally views window tint as excess wear, regardless of its quality, so make sure to remove it (safely) before returning the vehicle.
  • Audi – Audi says, “Chipped, cracked or heavily pitted glass, or improperly tinted windows” are excess wear and use, and you will be charged accordingly.
  • BMW – According to BMW, “star breaks, bull’s-eyes with cracks, or windshield cracks that are larger than ½” are excessive glass damage and will come with a fee. Improper handling of window tint installation or removal can result in excessive glass damage.
  • Chrysler (FCA) – The company puts “engraved, etched or tinted glass” under the “Excess Exterior Wear” category, and they will charge you accordingly for window tint removal.
  • Ford – There is no mention of tinted windows, but Ford states: “All glass damage is chargeable (even small cracks and chips can compromise safety).”
  • GM – The manufacturer considers “cracked glass greater than ½” in diameter” and “spidered cracks” as excess wear, thus will apply charges.
  • Honda – Honda’s guide says that “all windshield cracks, stars, and bullseyes” are considered excessive use.
  • Hyundai – The company has concrete standards for substandard window tint. If “windows have peeling, bubbling, scratched, or non-matching tint”, it costs $100 to remove.
  • Infinity – Infinity’s guide views window tint as chargeable if “tint is peeling, fading, bubbling, mismatched or poses [a] safety issue.”
  • Kia – Kia offers a self-assessment web tool to evaluate window tint and glass damage, just like its parent company Hyundai.
  • Lexus – The manufacturer views “windshield cracks, stars or bull’s-eyes, as well as Damaged, broken or non-factory tinted glass” as excess wear and will charge you accordingly.
  • Mazda – The company’s pre-inspection determines whether window tint and glass damage are acceptable or not. Consider this when leasing your new car (or used car) with Mazda.
  • MINI – MINI considers all scratches, dings, and stars to the glass as damage, and any damage requires a full window replacement.
  • Mercedes-Benz – Their official statement is: “The standard for excess wear and use is set forth in your lease.” But another guide claims aftermarket window tint is okay as long as it “is free of any scratches, bubbling, tears, or discolouring.” Check with your lease provider which policy applies to you.
  • Nissan – Their guide states that window tint at the end of the lease is chargeable, but only if the tint is “peeling, fading, bubbling, mismatched or poses [a] safety issue.”
  • Porsche – The manufacturer offers window tinting through their own services. You’re free to get yours done by a 3rd party, but it’s up to the dealership to approve or reject it at end of your lease term.
  • Subaru – Their Lease Customer Guide states: “Please see your lease agreement for a full description of the excess wear and use standards.”
  • Tesla – The company asserts that you will be charged for “any unauthorized vehicle modifications or alterations damage caused by the installation or removal of parts and accessories.”
  • Toyota – The company says all “windshield cracks, stars or bull’s-eyes, as well as Damaged, broken or non-factory tinted glass” are excessive wear.
  • Volkswagen – Their end-of-lease guide states, “Multiple chips, cracks, or pits measuring more than 1/8 of an inch, or improperly tinted windows” are excessive wear and use.
  • Volvo – Volvo sees “non-OEM or dealer installed tinted glass” as excessive wear and use, and you will be charged to remove it.
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