Window Tinting Laws for Ontario Cars


A common question we get when we are inspecting cars for our customers is whether or not they should be concerned if the tint is too dark. Whenever you a buying a used car with tints or considering tinting your car, you should really think about the Ontario tinting laws and the level of risk to take on.

Ontario Window Tinting Law

Keep in mind, there is a difference between the law and the extent of which the law is enforced. According to the H.T.A. any tinting on the windshield or driver side and passenger side windows are considered illegal. This means the rearview windows and back seat windows can be as dark as you want.

Section 73 states in S 73(3): “No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle on which the surface of the windshield or any window to the direct left or right of the driver’s seat has been coated with any coloured spray or other coloured or reflective material that substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle when viewed from outside the motor vehicle.” 

Recommended Tint Darkness

From corresponding with police officers, most follow a very standard general rule of thumb: they want to be able to see your face if they look at you across the street. If they cannot see you through the driver or passenger side window, then it is somewhat likely that you stand a chance of being pulled over to be warned or ticketed. However, any windshield tinting at all is much more likely to get you a ticket.

Since the windshield is the largest piece of glass on the vehicle, it also lets in the most light. If the windshield is tinted, it will not only be extremely obvious that tints were applied, but the car interior will also have significantly less light. Less light in the cabin means that police officers will have even more trouble seeing your face if your side windows are tinted as well.

So the real debate is how dark to tint your driver and passenger side windows. Most cars we see are tinted to 35% darkness. This means that of all the light that would have come through, only 35% makes it past the tint. This is just enough darkness to make the heat of the sun manageable and light enough that driving in the dark is still safe. Unfortunately, 35% tints do not offer any privacy. This is why some people opt for 20% tints in the back seats and rear of the car.

Driving With Dark Tints

From a personal perspective of haven driven cars at 35%, 20%, 17% and no tints, there needs to be a certain level of skill required to drive a car with darker tints. With darker tints it becomes much harder to reverse without a backup camera or sensor in low light settings.

If you are an avid camper or find yourself on country roads with little to no ambient lighting, you will reversing with zero visibility. In these situations I would have lower my windows so I can use my side mirrors to navigate. Driving with darker tints requires confidence and knowing your vehicle’s dimensions. But even when you know your angles, you may have to check twice for a biker in Downtown Toronto or check your blind spot twice on the highway for a speeding motorcycle in the summer.

This inconvenience  and perceived lack of safety is probably enough for most people to never go below 20% tinting. However, the benefits of privacy and extreme heat reduction is very evident. Keeping a car cool in the blazing heat in a car with 17% tints is effortless, while blasting the air conditioning in a car with no tints seems like a futile effort.

Types of Tints: Ceramic vs Regular

If you want better heat rejection with the better safety of lighter tints, a good option is to go for ceramic tints. Ceramic tints do cost more upfront, but last longer, do not fade and have superior heat rejection.

Since it is a different type of material, unlike the metallic tints, you will not find reception issues or technology interference with ceramic tints. If you are keeping a vehicle for more than 3 years, I would always opt for ceramic tints over regular tints.

Buying A Used Car: Aging Tints

Aging tints are a huge headache when buying a used car if you are unaware. Peeling, bubbling and fading are all signs of tints that were either poorly applied or showing it’s age. While this is typically not a dealbreaker for most people, it is certainly something that buyers overlook and need to spend a few hundred dollars to fix or replace.

At CarCheckCanada, quality and state of tints are considered by all of our vehicle inspections.


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