Located near the equator, we Malaysians feel the heat all year round. With an average temperature of 28 Celcius (any more, we’ll be melting!), its no wonder why Malaysians generally prefer to stay indoors and away from the scorching heat. With the heat, many Malaysians are doing whatever they can to make their lives a “cooler” one. One of the examples is a car tint/ auto film. Essentially a cover or shades away from the sun in the comfort of their vehicle.
Besides causing a sweaty and uncomfortable drive, the sun also emits ultraviolet and infrared rays that can damage our skin and eyes as well. We often dismiss this as it is just an unpleasant feeling of heat until a problem occurs.
While cars to protect us from the general elements, we are still exposed to the invisible dangers of the sunlight during our commute. This is where the role of the auto film comes in, not just for the privacy of your vehicle, but to also offer you protection from the harmful rays.
With a wide range of auto films in the market that come with various prices and standards, how does one go about in selecting the “right” auto film?
To begin, we must first understand:
1. What is Visible Light Transmission (VLT) and Sun Protection Factor (SPF)?
Visible light transmission levels are normally represented in percentage which is equivalent to the percentage of visible light that enters the vehicle window. In other words, 30% VLT filters out 70% of visible light and only allows 30% of VLT to enter. The lower the percentage, the darker the window film.
You must have seen the word SPF on beauty products. SPF is the measurement of how long the sunscreen will protect your skin from ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVB rays tend to damage the epidermis which is the skin’s outer layer. To simplify it further, SPF 30 means the sunscreen will provide 30 times more protection than having no sunscreen.
2. Low-Grade vs Quality Film
Have you ever seen the colour change, bubbles, warping or peeling on a car tint? It is often caused by low-grade tinting, which is more prone to the risk factors listed above. Low-grade films are available at almost any car accessory shops, but it often lacks quality, lifespan, protection and security. The normal cost for a quality tint will range from RM700 to RM5000 for an established auto film brand.
3. Basic Protection features
As mentioned above, exposing your skin to the sun can lead to skin problems and in worst case scenarios, skin cancer. To prevent that, it is crucial to carefully select a film that provides the protection you need. A basic quality tint will have UV protection and heat rejection features at the very least. Most standard auto films block out 99% of UV rays.
4. Choose a Trustworthy Brand
Look-up for the product’s specification sheets online to back up their data or seek brands that have third-party accreditations. Brands like 3M auto films are recommended by the US skin cancer foundation, as they provide a total sun protection factor (SPF) of more than 1000 — 30 times higher than a top-grade sunscreen. The film’s high SPF level provides protection from the dangers of the sun’s UV rays, which includes sunburn, premature ageing and skin cancer. By rejecting the radiation of UV light, auto films also help to protect the interior decoration of your vehicle from discolouring and cracking.
5. Keep cool and reduce fuel consumptions
It is important to note that auto films alone are unable to entirely block out heat from the interior of a vehicle and this is because other parts of the vehicle also absorb heat. However, with the help of good quality auto film, a significant amount of heat can be blocked
out depending on the Total Solar Energy Rejected (TSER). TSER is a term you will often see on the brochures of auto films. It is equivalent to the heat rejected by the film. The higher the number, the more heat is rejected which in turn will cool down your car at a faster rate.
As a result, it reduces the need to blast your air conditioning and may subsequently reduce fuel consumption for some cars.
6. Security and Safety
Auto films can also prevent your windows from shattering into tiny pieces during an impact. Security films can hold broken glass pieces together and keep it from flying airborne which may cause collateral damage when an accident or robbery happens. Note that security films are not designed to be impenetrable in case rescue operations need to take place.
Besides looking at the specifications an auto film provides you, you should also check if they provide a warranty for it. Most quality products come with a warranty from the manufacturer
which is fulfilled by authorized dealers. In cases where the film has a defect or starts peeling within the warranty period, you should be able to make a claim. This is also why it is important to only purchase auto films from legitimate authorized dealers. This is to ensure that you are still covered by the existing warranty even if that outlet is no longer in business. You should also compare the length and coverage of the warranty as some brands provide a longer period to offer long term value.
8. Should I Install Metallized Films?
Metallized films are a popular type of auto film in the market due to its fairly affordable price and proven quality. It might sound like the ideal choice, but metallized films come with certain issues. Due to the metallic compounds in the film, metallized films might interfere with GPS signals, mobile phone signals, RFID Tag, and even your auto gate signal. The other problem with metallized films is corrosion. It affects the appearance of the film and even the heat rejection performance. Over time, the colour of the tint will change to purple or brown which eventually affects visibility. These are some things to consider if you are recommended a metallized film.
9. Darker Film Doesn’t Mean Better Heat Rejection
Firstly, check the current tint regulations before applying, to prevent trouble with local authorities. The current regulations for tinting in Malaysia are — 70% VLT for the windscreen, 50% VLT for the front side windows and any percentage for the rear windows. A darker film does not necessarily reflect heat better than a clear film. Heat rejection is calculated based on TSER. So, when choosing a film to cool your car, keep in mind that darker tint doesn’t mean better heat rejection.
The debate of the best auto film is still subjective, as everyone has different preferences, budgets and needs. We hope these tips narrow down your choices and help you find an auto film that best suits your need!