On my old 1993 Mazda MX-6, I inherited a terrible tint job that was done on the rear and side windows. The tint on the windows had a purple tint to it and it was beginning to bubble all around the borders. This type of failure is characteristic of a poorly done tint job or regular exposure to glass cleaner that has ammonia. I could not stand the look of it any longer, so I went about removing the tint.
The above photo was one of the earlier photos I took of the car; you can see the lifting off of the tint around the edges the side and the rear windows. Upon closer inspection, the window tint had also developed a purplish color to it as well.
Tools & Materials
Window Cleaner (with Ammonia)
Typically you would use a non-ammonia window cleaner when cleaning the interior of the windows, but in this case we are using it to remove the tint from the windows. This is precisely the reason why you don’t use glass cleaner with ammonia when doing normal cleaning.
Use a single-edge razor blade to assist with lifting the edge of the tint in order for you to pull up the rest and remove the tint. You’ll also need it to clean up pieces that have stuck to the window.
Trash Bags or Saran Wrap
Grab some from your home; most will have these types of items already in their household. This will be used to cover the windows during the soaking process.
Microfiber towels can be used in numerous car detailing applications, but here they are simply used to remove residue and to clean up running glass cleaner.
Process for Removing Bubbling Tint
The first step is to lay out towels down around the bottom of the windows. What you will be doing is spraying the windows down with the ammonia-based glass cleaner and covering it with the trash bag or saran wrap. But during this process, you will likely have glass cleaner dripping down and soaking whatever is beneat the window. So lay out the towel(s) at the base of the window.
Next, thoroughly spray the inside of the entire window that you’re removing tint for, with ammonia-based glass cleaner. You don’t really need to soak the entire window, but enough so that the entire window is evenly covered. Once you place the bag or saran wrap on it, it will spread out the formula evenly.
Once you place the trash bag or saran wrap onto the inside of the window, you’ll see the glass cleaner spread a thin layer evenly onto the window surface. After confirming you have properly covered the window, close the door and let the car sit out in the sun for 30min to an hour, depending on sun and heat level. The heat and ammonia-based glass cleaner will help the tint lift off of the window.
Come back to the car after waiting 30min to an hour, and use a single-edge razor blade to help lift off the corner of the window tint. When working on the rear window, be extremely careful around the defroster grid. If you accidentally cut it with the razor, you will cause the entire defroster to go dead.
After a leading edge or corner of the tint has been lifted off, pull slowly at a 45-degree angle away from the window until you are able to remove the entire tint layer. Repeat for all other windows until you have removed all of the tint.
If you have any remaining tint left that has stayed stuck on the window, you can repeat the process in that particular location and use a razor blade to help clean off the stuck-on tint. If you are left with glue residue on the window, you can either use some kind of adhesive remover. You may also try a Magic Eraser (which is equivalent to something like a 3000-5000 grit sanding), but just test it out on a small part of the glass before doing so. I wouldn’t recommend a white 3m pad as many suggest as it is closer to a 1200-1500 grit sanding.
Removing tint with this method is the easiest way to remove tint aside from using a steam machine. I even tried removing the tint in the beginning only using a razor blade. Although the tint was already in bad shape, it would peel off in chunks. Using the ammonia-based glass cleaner and allowing it to soak into the window tint allows the whole sheet to come off together making it extraordinarily easy to remove tint yourself.