Considering Automotive Safety / Tint Film?

The South African market has come a long way in the basics of Automotive and Artchitectual Window Tint and Safety films, but one thing lacking is educating people on the technical aspects and considerations when choosing the right Window Tint for your needs.

We continuously strive to educate and inform people effectively so they can make informed and educated decissions.

XPEL’s complete range of Tint & Safety films carry the American Cancer Foundation seal of approval.

Tint vs Safety film:

Tint vs Automotive Window Safety or as referred to in South Africa as ‘Anti-Smash & Grab’:
The two are similar and the only distinction between Safety and Tint is it’s thickness.

Tint is commonly applied to your rear window as it’s thinner and easier to shape/mold. It is 1,5mil (38 microns) thick where as side window film is (4mil 100 microns) thick and can be easily applied on flatter glass.

Safety Film is typically applied on inside of the side windows of cars and Tint on the inside of back window.

IMPORTANT: Plexi Glass requires application of a Poly Carb/Blister film before you can apply any form of Tint on the window, reason being is that the dye/colour will be absorbed into the Plexi Glass over time.

Tint/Safety (Anti Smash & Grab) in South Africa:

South Africa is currently flooded with sub-standard far Eastern films, which are rarely graded or technically correct in its specifications, inaccurate ‘VLT’ shade (Visible Light Transmitted) specifications etc..

Car dealers and installers in SA have since 2019, have gradually learned that buying cheap is buying expensive and that all tint is simply not the same, with issues such as colour fading, milking, adhesive separation causing bubbling etc.

Fading can easily be spotted, when you roll down your side window and look at the darkness of the film where the window goes into the door frame/edge versus the rest of the window. 


People get very Confused when referring the percentage (%) shade they want. The Shade is referred to as the VLT or Visible Light Transmitted, in other words the percentage (%) of light coming allowed through. By example,  5% would be darker and allow 5% light through, versus a film that is 70%, which would allow more light in. Below in an example:


The colours available varies between manufacturer, in South Africa we have decided to stock with black and blue, as brown, charcoal films sometime contrast the appearance of the interior with an undertone of brown or purple.

choosing the right film for you

The kind of climate in your area will determine what suits your needs. All tinting films should provide you with minimum protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays, which is why window tint and the term ‘Safety film’ actually originally originated from. Even if you live in a cold region where the sun is rarely out. There are so many types of window films to choose from that it can be quite confusing.

There are 6 different types and knowing the benefits of each one can help you make the right choice:

1) Dyed films:

If you are on a budget, this can be the perfect choice of Tint. They are relatively inexpensive and block sunlight using multiple layers of dye. The dye absorbs some solar heat thus preventing some of the heat from entering your vehicle. However, this type of film doesn’t provide the level of protection offered by other types of films.

Dyed films may fade over time and will need to be replaced, the quality of the Dye used by the manufacturer will determine how quickly the film will fade.

Majority of films in South Africa available today are Dyed films to keep the costs low.

2) Metalised films:

Similar to dyed films, metalised tint films also helps in filtering out heat by reflecting it. But these films make use of tiny metallic particles to block sunlight instead of using dye. These particles are almost invisible and are embedded within the film.

This type of film provides another kind of protection – it adds to the window’s strength. The shatter-resistance will increase significantly when a metalised film is installed over the windows. This type of film can be recognized by its shine. It has higher scratch-resistance compared to dyed films.

The main advantages of metalized window films include:

  • Effective in blocking out up to 50% heat.
  • Effective glare reduction.
  • Efficient UV blocking.

Metalised window tinting is durable and can last for a longer time without fading, they may however interfere with Radio and GSM signals.

3) Hybrid films:

Hybrid tint have both metallic particles and dyes. Hybrid films provide the positive effects of both while reducing their negatives. A commonly used combination is titanium and grey dye. This combination is neither too dark nor too reflective or mirror-like. Thus, the film is decently bright and not too reflective, providing some privacy while blocking a good percentage of heat and UV rays.

XPEL®  does offers this range in their XPEL HP™ range, but is not currently available in South Africa.

4) Carbon films:

This type of tint provides many advantages over other types of tint films. It has a unique matte-finish that makes it attractive. Its carbon content helps in blocking around 40% of the IR radiations responsible for heating the interiors.

This not only helps keep the vehicle’s interiors cool, it also prevents or slows down upholstery fading.

This type of tint film helps in saving energy by reducing the need for cooling during summer and heating during winter. Carbon film is also durable and doesn’t fade or scratch like dyed tint films.

XPEL PRIME CS™ falls into this category.

5) Crystalline films:

Many people want to tint their vehicle’s windows without making them dark. If that’s your goal, you should use crystalline window tint. It will block ultraviolet radiations and solar heat without the need for a dark film. It will seem that there is no tinting at all.

6) Ceramic films:

If you are looking for high quality tint film, ceramic tint films can be the perfect option. It contains ceramic particles known for their non-conductive properties. 

A relatively new type of tinting, it is expensive yet proven for its performance. It can block up to 98% of solar heat without blocking visibility. Metallic tinting can affect the functioning of electronic equipment because it blocks signals. Ceramic films provide an effective and efficient alternative.

Some of the main benefits of ceramic tint include the following:

  • Strong resistance to fading and glare;
  • Increases shatter resistance;
  • Blocks out UV rays effectively;
  • Extremely High level of Infrared Heat Rejection.

Ceramic tint films can block up to 99% of UV rays from entering your vehicle’s interiors, thus protecting against its harmful effects.

film installation

XPEL® in South Africa set the trend when it comes to Pre-cut and non-intrusive installation of Paint Protection Films.

This is mirrored with our ability to pre-cut our automotive window films and limiting the risks associated through the removal of door panels etc.

For our dealers, this also means an effective 40 to 60% material saving.

It also ensures effective stock and cost center management for dealers as tint kits can now be kept in parts and installers can be contracted in for a fixed labor fee and fixed tint ‘part’ cost linked to each vehicle sold.

PRIME CS can be combined with PRIME XR as they contain the same colour dye, so you can apply CS on the side for safety and XR on the front, back and Sun Roof for superior heat rejection, keeping your car even cooler