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Why I got my Windows Tinted

Although getting your windows tinted can make the appearance of a car much nicer, I got it mainly because of functional reasons. Because I’ve been spending a lot more time on the road, I wanted to make sure my family and I were safe from the effects of UV rays that come from the sun.  I also wanted to reduce the amount of heat that entered the vehicles through the windows. Because of these main reasons, I finally went forth with having my 4th Gen 4Runner windows tinted.

California Tint Law

At the time of getting my tint, California Tint Law indicates that the following tints are allowed:

  • Windshield – no tint allowed except for tint strip on top 4″ of windshield
  • Front Windows – Must allow more than 70% of light in
  • Rear Windows – Any VLT% (visible light transmission) allowed
  • Rear/Tailgate Window – Any VLT% allowed

What is the Factory Tint on a 4th Gen Toyota 4Runner?

The 4th Gen Toyota 4Runner has a factory “tint” (actually colored glass) in the rear windows and the tailgate window. Because of this, it makes it a little more complicated to figure out what window tint to go with. You’re not just simply throwing the same percentage window tint on for a consistent color/tint. The factory rear and tailgate windows have an approximate 20-30% factory tint. Searching on the 4th Gen T4R forums, you can find examples of various tints so you can decide accordingly to your own liking.

Here are some good references that I found on the T4R forums:

factory window tint - 4runner 4th gen window tint
Example: Factory Window Tint on 4th Gen Toyota 4Runner
20 percent tint front only - 4runner 4th gen window tint
Example: 20 Percent Tint on Front Windows Only

I don’t like the look of the front windows contrasting so much with the rear windows. Specifically with the front windows looking like they have much less tint than the rear windows, therefore I wanted to make sure the front windows were tinted enough to avoid this effect. This difference in tint is very apparent from the factory (first picture above). A good reference photo is the second photo above which shows a 4Runner owner who tinted only the front windows at 20%. You can tell that the front windows are slightly darker than the rears, which confirms the fact that the rear windows are factory colored/tinted at approximately 20-30%.

Tinting the rear windows over the factory tint would amount to a slightly darker tint to varying degrees. This was hard to pinpoint as to what layered tints would look like, and so I would have to go with what I thought would look and work best.

My desired tint came down to two decisions:

  1. Tint front windows 50% or 35%
  2. Tint rear windows 50% or 35%

I certainly didn’t want the front windows to be too dark to where I would get stopped by the police, but I also didn’t want such a slight tint that it does not produce the effect of heat reduction (UV projection didn’t matter as it does not change with tint level). I went into the tint shop with 50% in my mind to be safe. For the rears, I believed it would be best to get a 50% as I did not want the rears to be “blacked out” like limos have. I think it looks terrible when cars get limo tint on the rear windows.

So I went into the tint shop with 50% all around in mind…

Best Image – Window Tinting

Shopping around, I found that Best Image in San Mateo, CA had better pricing, more available appointment times, and excellent reviews. They are a busy shop, and for good reason. When I dropped off the car, I spoke with them about types of window tint and about the VLT that would be best for me. The person I spoke to recommended that I did not do 50% on the front windows as it would be barely noticeable. I heeded his advice and decided to go with 35% on the front windows and 50% on all rear windows.

I also had the choice between 3M Color Stable versus another tint they offered, called Johnson Renegade. The price difference was about $100 with the latter being more budget-minded.

I went with the Johnson Renegade tint as it was an incredible deal. I also did some quick research on it (as I’ve never heard of the tint before), and confirmed that it was a reputable company. The only difference I notice between this tint and the 3m would be slightly less effective heat reduction. Knowing that the warranty through Best Image will be the same for either tint, I made the decision to go with the Renegade tint.

Before Tint – Stock 4th Gen Toyota 4Runner

4runner 4th gen sr5 4x4 v6
Rear View
4runner 4th gen sr5 4x4 v6
Side View

After Tint (35% Front, 50% Rear) – 4th Gen Toyota 4Runner

I noticed a significant reduction in heat in the car especially when I get back in my car after work. Usually it would feel extremely hot getting back in the car after the sun has been shining on it all day, but now it just feels moderately warm. The color of the tint came out nicely; I’m really glad that I took advice from Best Image. I believe 50% on the front windows would really have been too light. I even wouldn’t have minded going a little darker with 30% on the front. But, it’s possible I may be pulled over or have visibility issues looking out of the vehicle.

In the end, it came out looking really nice, but most importantly it fits my needs with heat reduction and UV radiation protection.

4runner 4th gen window tint - 35 front 50 rear
35% front, 50% all rears (rear view)
4runner 4th gen window tint - 35 front 50 rear
35% front, 50% all rears (side view)

Hi there! I'm Scott and I run The Track Ahead. My goal is to provide helpful articles and tutorials based on my experience and research related to car maintenance and automotive detailing. When I'm not writing and not working my day job, you can find me spending time with my family and working on home and car projects.

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