Your car’s windshield. It’s something you don’t think about much, but there’s something special going on with the glass. If you look through your window just right, you might notice a weird greenish hue. What’s going on with that?
Yes, almost every modern car’s windshield has a tint to it. It comes directly from the original manufacturer, and it’s typically one of three colors. This tint will protect your eyes while you drive and your car’s interior while you’re parked outside.
In this article, I’m going to explain what’s happening. More specifically, I’ll explain why windshields are tinted green, what the tint does, and some of the important facts pertaining to windshields and their colors.
The Purpose of a Windshield
It might sound ridiculous, but have you thought about the importance of your windshield? It does a few big jobs that can be easily overlooked.
First and foremost, it gives you an unobstructed way to see the road in front of you and gives you a wide field of vision. As you know, vision is the first key to driving safely.
A windshield will also keep road debris and bugs out of your car. Getting pelted by a rock while going 80 miles per hour can do some serious damage to you, but the windshield is strong enough to deflect it away without breaking.
Finally, the windshield is an added layer of protection, keeping the interior of your car clean. It is constantly getting hit with sunlight, pollen, and rain — any of which can do some real damage to the interior of your car.
Are Windows Actually Tinted Green/Blue?
A lot of people don’t recognize a green tint when they’re driving along. Are windshields on a car actually tinted green? For modern cars, there’s a very good chance they are.
Looking directly into your windshield might not show the green tint. If you look at your car from an angle at the side or crouch down, you’ll start to notice the tint.
A vast majority of cars on the road today have a windshield in one of three options: a blue tint, green tint, or no tint (colorless). Some aftermarket options offer a gray tint, but it’s much less common than the other three.
What About the Darker Green/Blue at the Top?
Actually, a way to better understand what color tint your glass has is to look at the top 6 or so inches of your windshield. There’s a much darker band of tint that appears at the top of your windshield.
This is called the shade band or sun strip.
If you have a green windshield, for instance, you’ll notice a more opaque strip of green that goes all the way across your windshield.
For reference, this isn’t what I’m talking about as I describe tinted windshields. This is just an added protection for drivers.
What does it do? It keeps the sun out of your eyes. This darker film acts as a makeshift pair of sunglasses, so you don’t get blinded by sunlight as you’re driving home from work.
Why That Dark Strip Doesn’t Extend Lower
It might seem a little confusing at this point. The strip of dark-colored tint does a great job of keeping sunlight out of your eyes, so why doesn’t it extend lower?
That top line of tint can only go as low as your “AS-1 line”. This is a marker on every windshield sold on cars today. This line marks the acceptable region for dark tint to go.
If you look at your windshield from the driver’s seat, you’ll notice tiny text and a line indicating your AS-1 line near your head.
If you tint the lower portion of your windshield, it’s illegal. There are different laws from state to state that dictate what you can do above the AS-1 line, but every state agrees that you can’t tint below it.
If you were to tint your front windshield, it would impede your visibility of the road around you, especially at night. On top of that, police officers wouldn’t be able to see into your car at all, so they wouldn’t know if you have a weapon drawn.
It’s a safety issue.
The only legal tint you can have on your windshield below the AS-1 line is the tint that comes with your glass.
How to Know if Your Windshield is Tinted Green or Blue
There are a few ways to tell if your windshield is tinted, and what color it’s tinted. Here are my favorite ways:
Look at the Edges
Start by looking closely at your windshield from the interior of your car. More specifically, focus on the outside edges of the glass.
You should notice no bubbles on your glass as you look across it. If you see bubbles, then there was an aftermarket tint added, and it is probably illegal.
The very edges of your windshield will show the true color of the tint. The curved edge of the glass will refract the color of the tint applied to it.
When I look at the edge of my windshield, I see a hazy green hue. That means that my glass is tinted green.
Check the Shade Band
Another way is to use the shade band that I discussed earlier. This is the darker strip of tint at the top of your windshield.
In almost every case, the band will match the tint color of the windshield, if it’s an OEM part.
In my car, I have a darker green strip of tint at the top of my windshield, indicating that my glass is tinted green.
Look Closely from the Outside
Sometimes you can tell the color just by looking at the window. The way that the tint is put on, it’s harder to tell the color from the interior of the car.
The best method is to go outside of your car and look at the glass. If you have some white cardboard, signs, or paper, then it gets a little easier. Prop the white material against your windshield from the inside of your car and step outside.
The white material will act as a background. Since your window is tinted, the papers inside shouldn’t look white from the outside.
It’s a little hard to differentiate between a blue and green tint, but it’s more obvious if you compare a clear and green windshield.
Check the Cracks
If you have cracks in your windshield, this is the one time that they can come in handy. The area in and around the cracks will show the color of your windshield.
How? It’s because of refraction and reflection. Since the glass is now compromised, it can start bouncing visuals around. More specifically, it can project the interior color of the glass through the cracks.
A clear windshield will just look transparent and black around a crack. With a green or blue windshield, you’ll see more of the corresponding color.
This is also a good opportunity to suggest that you replace your windshield as soon as possible if it’s cracked. A small crack can propagate and get longer as you drive. It doesn’t take much for a simple pothole to add inches to the length of your crack. In some cases, it can even shatter your windshield.
Understanding the Tint on OEM Windshields
I mentioned earlier that you won’t notice any bubbles under the tint if your windshield is an OEM part. How is that even possible?
The tint is added through an assembly line and uses automation. This ensures the tint is the exact size needed, and that the tint is applied perfectly.
Comparatively, every time I tint a window, I end up with a bunch of bubbles and trapped dust between the tint and the glass. You won’t experience the same thing with a purchased OEM windshield.
Can You Add Your Own Tint to the Windshield?
You might be wondering if you can add your own tint to your car’s windshield. After all, it supposedly has a green tint already, so what does it matter if you put more tint on? Even if you source a green tint and carefully apply it, the tint is illegal by definition.
This goes back to a previous section in this article when I was talking about safety concerns. If you have a dark front window, people won’t be able to see inside of your car at all, and it can lead to unsafe situations.
The lower the percentage the darker the tint. In the State of Georgia where I live, the legal limit is 32%. This means that anything below that, cops can issue a citation. Police officers are a lot less forgiving when it comes to illegal windshield tinting. I would suggest that you don’t even consider it, it’s not worth the risk.
Why Are Windshield Tinted Green/Blue?
By the late 60s, tinted windshields became very common. This was also around the time when A/C systems in cars gained popularity.
Not surprisingly, a lot of people today think that the two inventions go hand-in-hand. The truth is that tinted windshields don’t have to do with a car’s A/C system at all.
In reality, a green-tinted windshield offers a few major benefits.
One of the biggest jobs of your window’s tint is to reduce the glare of the sun. Being able to see clearly is a huge part of driving, and the sun can quickly ruin your ability to see.
This is especially true during the hours surrounding sunrise and sunset. As you’re driving with the sun in front of you, your windshield’s tint is reducing the glare a little bit.
Glare reduction is also the reason why you have that darker shade band at the top of the glass. It does a better job of keeping your eyes sun-free while you’re driving without impeding your vision of the road.
Preserves Interior Surfaces
If you want to simplify things, you can say that the tint in your windows is “slowing down” the effects of the sun. A common side-effect of constantly driving in sunny areas like Arizona is that the interior of your car fades much quicker.
If you have leather seats, you’ll probably notice that your front seats are duller than your rear ones. Although you use the front seats more commonly than the rear ones, leading to more rubbing and wearing, the sun is also beating harder on your front seats because of the windshield.
With a tint, the UV rays are partially blocked. Your interior will still fade over time, but it will happen slower thanks to this tint.
Keeps Interior Temperatures Down
Just like standard car window tint, windshield tint helps keep your cabin cooler. This also goes back to the fact that the tint will prevent most UV rays from getting through the glass.
The interior of your car will still heat up when you’re parked outside on a sunny day. The difference is that the windshield will prevent the cabin from getting as hot as it would with a clear windshield.
Depending on where you live, where you park, and how long your car is exposed to direct sunlight, it could mean a difference of tens of degrees Fahrenheit.
Prevents Eye Strain
The final benefit of a tinted windshield also includes your eyes. If you are hit by the sun for too long, your eyes are going to get strained. It typically leads to headaches, eye pain, and vision problems in the short term.
With tinted glass, the impact of the sun is lessened inside of your car. That translates to less eye strain, allowing you to drive longer without worrying about how your eyes will react to the sun.
Price for Getting a Green Tinted Windshield
Since you can’t tint the windshield yourself, you won’t be considering prices for just the tint. If you were just getting tint for a windshield, it could be as inexpensive as $100 or so.
In this case, you’ll need to look at the price of completely replacing your windshield. Again, the manufacturer will automatically include green (or whatever color they use) tint on their windshields.
If you’re replacing your car’s windshield, you should use an OEM replacement. Opting for a third-party windshield can cause a lot of trouble. If you pick the wrong aftermarket manufacturer, you could get a tintless windshield which makes driving more uncomfortable.
For a baseline price, replacing the windshield on a 2020 Civic costs around $600 for just the glass. This is a project I wouldn’t recommend doing on your own — call your local glass repair companies for quotes.
As you just learned, your car’s windshield probably has a green tint. This prevents eye strain, reduces cabin temperatures, and keeps your interior fade-free. If you want to learn more about your car, explore the rest of my blog. I also have a number of car products that can make your life a little easier.