Sunset Window Tinting Training Publications

Get instructions on how to remove old window tinting film that has bubbled or distorted. Learn the best method to safely peel off old and brittle automotive window tint. Learn more

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How do I remove old window tinting film that has bubbled or distorted?

This subject is thoroughly explained in Appendix F of the Automotive Window Tinting Installation Manual. On rear window equipped with defroster lines the standard method of using a 1” single edge razor to scrape off the film would be dumb, as the razor would remove the electrolyte coating on the defroster lines and damage the rear window defroster system. Usually the old film will be dry and brittle and will disintegrate as you attempt to peel it off the rear window. If this happens find some plastic dry-cleaning garment bags, cut them in half (open them up), or use the clear film liner you have lying around if you are already tinting. Spray a solution of window cleaner with ammonia on the old film, and lay the plastic over the film and park the vehicle out with direct sunlight on the window to be stripped.Let the window soak for at least one hour-spraying the film every 10-15 minutes to keep it wet. After 45 minutes attempt to peel a corner of the film off. If it resists peeling or still disintegrates spray it again and leave it for another 30-45 minutes. Sooner or later (if you keep the window wet) the cleaner will soak through the film and attack the adhesive under it, making it soft and less aggressive. Slowly peel away the old film from the window. Often the old adhesive will remain on the window after the film has been removed. It is colorless, so you need to check the glass by touching it for “tackiness.” If your finger sticks to the window then you know you still have a layer of adhesive left on the glass that must be removed before installing any new film.If the glue remains on the window spray it again with the soapy cleaner and take a sponge with a course plastic backing and scrub the old adhesive off. I know its a messy, time-consuming operation but that’s why most shops charge $50.00 to $75.00 to remove old film. Just keep thinking of all the money you are saving while you get sticky and sweaty! If you plan to have the rear window re-tinted be sure to remove all the old adhesive from the rear window, especially around the edges and corners of the window. Otherwise the tint shop will charge you extra for having to remove it themselves, as any adhesive that is left on the window will show up as white blotches under the new tint installation.A word of caution when using sponges with coarse backing to scrub off the remaining adhesive - some have been known to scratch the glass, so scrub a corner of the window first and examine it closely before using it on the entire window. Also, before you begin the process of soaking the old film off the window lay down plastic sheets or backing material to protect your rear deck and speakers. It is recommended to remove the speakers and rear brake light unit if they interfere with a clean removal. If you plan to re-tint the window they would have to be removed prior to tinting anyway. All of the above probably will take from 1-3 hours depending on your luck (adhesive removes with the film) and experience, but some unusually stubborn adhesives could take longer and require stronger cleaning solutions (Naptha or lacquer thinner in extreme cases). Wear plastic gloves and cover everything around the window if these strong chemicals are used!

The Automotive Window Tinting Installation Manual gives a detailed explanation of film removal in Appendix F, and the entire appendix section is a “must read” for anyone wishing to master auto window tinting (buy it!). However, if all you want to do is remove old, bubbly film from your own vehicle once every five years then this section should work for you. Good Luck!



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