15% vs 20% tint. Is there a visual difference?

Car theft is a serious crime that can induce a domino effect that sees a car owner experience various setbacks, financially and physically. While the major reason for car theft is greed and a distinct lack of respect on the part of the thief, there are so many other reasons (on the part of the car owner) that would make your car more liable to being stolen.

One of these reasons is that the interior of a car is visible, and carjackers scouting for their next victim would more likely be drawn to a car with visible valuables inside. To prevent such lowlifes from touching your car (they also would leave it because they can’t be sure if anyone is inside), the best thing to do is tint your windows, preventing people from seeing from the outside in.

Apart from preventing your car from being stolen, tinting your vehicle comes with many other benefits. Your vehicle would be precluded from the excess UV rays on sunny days. This would, in turn, keep your leather seats nice and durable and would stop your car from heating up.

Window tints also help to prevent your glass from easily breaking during accidents. Keeping this in mind, there are various levels of tint arranged into a hierarchy by percentages. Most cars that come tinted from the manufacturer usually are within a 15% to 20% range.

Here’s what you should know about 15% vs 20% tint

There is a big difference between 15% tint and 20% tint. 15% tint allows in only 15% of the light, while 20% tint lets in 20% of the light. A 15% tint will make your car darker than a 20% tint. If you’re looking for maximum privacy, go with a 15% tint. But if you want to see out of your windows at night, you should stick with a lighter tint.

Is 15% or 20% darker?

The tint levels are arranged according to the amount of light it blocks or lets into the car. For instance, a 50% tint means that the tint level only allows half the light to enter the vehicle.

A 15% tint means that only 15% of the light hitting the window gets into the car, and a 20% tint means 20% of light enters the vehicle. We can deduce that vehicles with a 15% tint are darker than cars with a 20% tint.

difference between 15 and 20 tints

Can you see through a 15% tint?

Anybody can see through a 15% tint, but things would be barely visible (and by barely visible, we are talking in comparison with a non-tinted window). You should be able to see just fine normally, but it’s pretty dark as far as window tints go.

For prime visibility (especially if your eyesight isn’t the best), you must keep to a 35% tint and above. However, if privacy is your reason for getting the tint in the first place, you can, by all means, opt for a 15% tint. It is dark enough to keep the public’s prying eyes away from your car.

Can you see through a 20% tint?

Yes, you can, at least in comparison with a 15% window tint. On first look at a 15% tinted window beside a 20% tinted window, most people wouldn’t notice a difference because both are designed to keep prying eyes away from the car’s interior.

However, with a 20% tint, outsiders are (barely) able to see the car’s interior up close and with much more visibility than a 15% tint would allow.

In what states is 15% legal?

These are the right questions to ask. When shopping for a window tint or considering doing one yourself, one should note that there are laws guiding the usage of tints.

This is to prevent citizens from taking advantage of their privacy to commit criminal acts and keep them safe by making sure visibility is not impaired. Although there are no federal laws about tint specificity, the state enforces these laws.

Also, tint levels allowed differ according to windows. For instance, most states are more lenient with back windows than with front and side windows. States that allow a 15% tint include:

  • Arkansas (back window)
  • Arizona (rear and back windows)
  • California (rear and back windows)
  • Connecticut (back windows)
  • Delaware (rear and back windows)
  • Florida (rear and back windows)
  • Iowa (rear and back windows)
  • Louisiana (rear windows)
  • Michigan (front, rear, and back windows)
  • Missouri (rear and back windows)
  • Montana (rear and back windows)
  • Nevada (rear and back windows)
  • New Jersey (rear and back windows)
  • New York (back windows)
  • North Dakota (rear and back windows)
  • Ohio (rear and back windows)
  • Texas (back windows)
  • Utah (rear and back windows)
  • Vermont (rear and back windows)

States differ primarily because sun visibility differs across geographical regions in the IS, which are extensively spread.

In which states is 20% allowed?

15% is darker than 20%, so by default, all states that allow 15% tints would allow 20% tints. In addition to those, some states put the limit at 20%. Those states include

  • Idaho (rear windows)
  • Nebraska (rear and back windows)
  • New Mexico (front, rear, and back windows)
  • South Dakota (rear and back windows)

Can you see through a 15% tint at night?

Not really. When driving with a 15% tint at night, especially in a dimly lit city or road, you should open your windows to aid visibility. It is a common opinion that tints work well at night because they reflect light, and there is no light to reflect at night.

This is demonstratively false because the essence of visibility hinges on the reflection of light.

Can you see through a 20% tint at night?

There is not much difference between a 15% and 20% tint in driving at night. A 20% tint is a pretty dark window tint, and in the dark of night, it would make it very difficult to see out of your windows. You will probably be able to see some light through the window, but don’t expect much more than that.

If you want to see clearly at night while driving, you should consider a lighter tint. For prime visibility, you should stick to a 35% tint to drive at night without having to roll down your windows.

What is the highest tint you can get?

You can get a 5% tint. This reflects 95% of light and keeps your car invisible to outside eyes. Although it is illegal in most states, some states allow it on the back windows (most states listed amongst the ones that allow 15% allow up to 5% on back windows).


When tinting your car, you should consider, among other things, your visibility and the jurisdiction being enforced by your state. You would want privacy, but at the same time, staying safe cannot be overstated. 15% and 20% tints are the tints for you if privacy is your priority and your state’s jurisdiction is lenient.


Window Tinting Laws in All 50 States