What is a tint strip?
A tint strip, also known as a shade band, or a sun visor strip, is a four to six inch strip of darker tinted glass or laminated film situated at the top of a car’s front windshield, right below the roof. The strip stretches across the length of the windshield. It is typically grey, green, blue, or dark sepia, and its color fades as it gets lower down the windshield. Take a look at your car. If you notice a darker area in an otherwise clear pane of glass, you have a tint strip. This piece of windshield technology adds to the driving experience and the value of your car. While tint strips are darker than the rest of the windshield glass, they are always transparent, never opaque.
What is the purpose of a tint strip?
A tint strip is there for a practical purpose: to protect the driver from glare from the sun. The shade band exists in the tricky space above the physical sun visor that is attached to the driver and passenger seats—that hinged flap that you pull down above your head from inside the car—and below the metal roof.
Without a tint strip, that particular spot on a car is prone to annoying, distracting, and potentially dangerous sun glares, especially around dawn and dusk when the sun is low in the sky, or on particularly bright, sunny days. How many times have you tried to situate your hinged sun visor to get it in the exact right spot to block the sun from getting in your eyes? Obstructive glares from the sun can be blinding, hindering a drivers view of street signs, objects in the road, or even the cars in front of them.
Tint strips are only four to six inches in width so that they do not obstruct the driver’s view of the road. Nothing, including sun, should ever prevent a driver from seeing out of their windshield when driving. Were the sun visor strip to be any wider, or lower down on the windshield, it could potentially make it difficult for a driver to spot objects in front of them, or upward, like traffic lights.
Do you need a tint strip?
Tint strips are not mandatory, nor are they a production requirement; however, shade bands have become factory-standard for most new vehicles, whether that vehicle is a sedan, a coupe, an SUV, or a semi-truck. State laws regulate the size, shape, and color of tint strips to ensure safety for everyone on the road.
Many vehicle manufacturers have what’s called an AS1 line on their cars’ windshields. The AS1 line is often indicated in tiny print on the windshield itself, but you can find it by contacting your vehicle manufacturer if it is not. The AS1 line, depending on your state laws, indicates the point below which you may not tint or darken your windshield. AS1 itself refers to the clearest level of glass used in a windshield. AS2 or AS3 refer to tinted glass. Above an AS1 line, you can have a tint strip or shade band, which is why the AS1 line is typically about 5 or 6 inches from the roof of the car.
If you have an older car, or a car that didn’t come with a tint strip when you bought it, you may decide having one added to your windshield is necessary for your own personal driving experience. The AS1 line will come in handy when installing the strip, to make sure it is compliant with your state’s tinting laws. If you get a windshield replaced, the tint strip is something you’ll want to be sure to have included.
So, why get one? Do you notice yourself adjusting your sun visor a lot? Do you have to constantly take your sunglasses on and off to prevent glare, but also see things that dark sunglasses impede you from seeing as clearly as you would like? Sometimes you may not even be aware of the damage the sun is doing to your driving experience. More importantly, it’s good to understand the physical hazards to the health of your eyes that comes with driving in the sun.
UV rays from the sun can damage your eyesight over time, leading to cataracts or weaker vision. Squinting in the sun regularly can cause headaches, as well as permanent wrinkles in your skin over time. Tint strips help protect your vision, in addition to keeping you, and your fellow drivers on the road, safe.