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Mod Guide: Safely tint (or remove tint from) your tail lights

Old 01-27-2013, 11:59 PM
milrlyt's Avatar
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Default Safely tint (or remove tint from) your tail lights

I thought I would make one of these since there seems to be somewhat of an interest in disregarding the law and tinting our headlights/tail lights.

Since I have over the years done this more than my fair share of times, I'd like to inform those of you interested in this project about some things you should be aware of before partaking in this potentially permanent mod.

Disclaimer: Tinting tail lights - and especially headlights - is ILLEGAL in most if not all states, not to mention it can be dangerous to yourself and other drivers. You WILL be held responsible in an accident if you have tint on your tail lights. Do so at your own risk!

Now that I've probably scared some folks from doing so, I'll give a bit of my personal experience if you're still on the fence: First, I prefer spray tint over the film stuff for a couple of reasons: a) it's cheaper, b) it's infinitely easier, especially with the shape of 6th-gen lights, and c) some tint film adhesives can permanently ruin your lights with one wrong move. Found that out the hard way, ask me how. There are still some precautions with the spray stuff, but for the most part you're safe.

I had both headlights and tail lights tinted darkly for ~2 years of everyday driving in a heavily populated city. I have seen plenty of Sheriffs and local cops behind and in front of me and was never pulled over or issued a ticket for them. Doesn't mean you won't be, but in my experience police have had better things to do. The one time I was pulled over (for having an out-of-state plate), the cops didn't even mention the tint.

Now on to the how-to:

  1. Go to your local auto parts store and purchase VHT Nightshades for ~$9 per can. One can will easily do several coats on both tail lights.
  2. Remove your tail lights for prep work. Do this by accessing them through the trunk. The ***** twist off easily. You can then begin to pull the light out and unplug it. It should come free now.
  3. With some clean towels, wipe the lens down with a bit of soap and warm water and dry it thoroughly. Be careful of the bolts on the back, if you put too much pressure on the light they can and will break. I broke 2/3 on both of my lights by doing so too many times.
  4. Find someplace you can safely spray them, preferably lay them on an old rag outside somewhere. DO NOT do this project in the sun, on a hot day, a cold day or a humid day. I have done so on all three and it will RUIN your headlights in one way or another, sometimes permanently. You seriously do need a very temperate climate away from the sun to begin and end this entire project.
  5. Shake the spray can and stand about a foot away from the light as you spray. I recommend spraying horizontally as vertically tends to create runs, especially on the sides & edges. Spray about 3-4 VERY light coats every 30sec-1min, this will result in a glossy finish with better light output. If you spray too thickly (ie your first coat completely covers the plastic) you will get a matte finish with little light output and you will have to start over.
  6. Do no more than 3-4 coats to begin with. At first, it will have a bluish/purplish hue to it, but worry not. It ALWAYS dries several shades darker and this usually takes 6 hours (if, however, you do end up with a blue hint after it's cured, you need to do slightly thicker coats; with a purple hue, you need to do lighter coats - but this usually doesn't happen). You shouldn't need more than 4 coats but if you decide to, you can proceed with light coats on top of the semi-cured coat and it won't ruin the gloss.
  7. Do not touch any part of the lens for at least 12 hours and store them in a safe area (avoid everything above in red). If you can, leave them to cure for 24 hours without interference.
  8. If done right, they should come out looking like this:

Ooh shiny

Reflectors are still visible and you should have plenty of light output.

If they look like this, you'll need to redo them:

Removing the tint:

So, you got a warning/ticket and now have to remove the tint, or you just don't like the look. Good news, it's not as hard as it seems. "VHT" (Very high temp) is actually a very misleading name for this product, as it comes off easily if you have the right stuff. Paint thinner does NOT work and may ruin the plastic on your lenses. You DO NOT need a lens restoration kit (used for yellowed/oxidized lenses). I have tried it and it is extremely easy to ruin your lights with. So don't do it.

What you need:
  1. Bucket of warm water
  2. 1 roll of paper towels
  3. clean working space
  4. gloves (unless you don't mind getting a little dirty, the paint isn't hard to get off your hands )
5. This: You can get it for a few bucks at Walmart.

  1. Place an old towel under the lights as the paint will run like the French army after a few seconds of contact with this stuff
  2. Spray a liberal amount of the Krud Kutter all over the lens. Wait at least 90 seconds for it to soak in.
  3. With a paper towel, firmly rub a small section (~4" diameter) in small circles like you would buff a car. If you attack too large of an area the paper towel will just stick to everything and you'll only soak up the Krud Kutter. At first, the paint wants to resist. Keep at it.
  4. Once the paper towel is full of the first layer of paint, retire it and give the area another spray of Krud Kutter. Get a new paper towel and continue "buffing" the small section. It should be noticeably easier to remove now. Keep at it until the entire lens is clean. It gets significantly easier as you go, and usually takes ~10 minutes per lens.
  5. The Krud Kutter is very sticky, so you will need to be sure no grease or oil remains after the paint is gone. Clean it thoroughly with soap & water and dry. You may need to wash it more than once until the lens is no longer sticky.
Be very careful when rubbing the paint away, the three bolts make it difficult to balance on hard ground and uncomfortable for you to hold. It's easy to break them if you put too much pressure.

Hopefully I've made someone's life easier. If you do this properly, you will still end up with lots of light output and a great custom look with minimal time & money spent.
Old 04-11-2013, 09:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Michigan
Posts: 94

Lets say I wanted to tint my tail lights, but I didnt want them black. Would I just apply less coats or is it not that simple?

Old 04-11-2013, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by sdowney View Post
Lets say I wanted to tint my tail lights, but I didnt want them black. Would I just apply less coats or is it not that simple?

Yes, you can apply as few or as many coats as you want. The more coats, the darker it will be.
Old 04-11-2013, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by zzapultimate View Post
Yes, you can apply as few or as many coats as you want. The more coats, the darker it will be.
X2 The more coats = DARKER..
Old 04-11-2013, 11:21 PM
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Do u not sand em to get better adhesion????? And instead of goin threw all the trouble of wiping the paint off u can wet sand and buff the lens
Old 04-12-2013, 10:25 AM
milrlyt's Avatar
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I've never had an adhesion problem. It should stick if your lens is clean.

I haven't used a wet sander/buffer. Didn't have one on me. I'm sure that'll work too, but if you don't have one like I didn't, there's a cheap and effective alternative
Old 09-29-2013, 11:39 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Galveston Island, TX
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Thanks for the How-to, this is on my To-do list...
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