Do you need to tint Privacy Glass?

It’s quite common for many new cars being sold with privacy glass on the rear windows, particularly in SUVs, 4WDs and utes.

So what is Privacy Glass? Wikipedia offers a great explanation:

Privacy Glass is created by an electrical process called “deep dipping” that involves dying the inside of automotive glass with a dark pigment. With a common visual light transmission (VLT) of 15%-26%, privacy glass is installed to provide passengers and personal items privacy from outsiders, hence the name privacy glass. Since most states have a VLT legal limit of around 35% for the front driver windows, privacy glass is only applied to the rear half of vehicles windows to avoid breaking the law.

With a low VLT, the primary benefit of privacy glass is to provide privacy for passengers and personal items. Unlike window film, privacy glass does not provide the same ultraviolet (UV) protection or heat reduction qualities. Window film offers 99% UV protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Privacy glass provides protection against UVB rays because UVB rays cannot penetrate any kind of glass including non tinted glass.

Unlike window film, privacy glass is a pigment within the glass that’s installed during the manufacturing process. There is no way to remove this colour from the glass except to replace the glass with clear glass. The only alternative to getting the same benefits of window film is to install window film over the privacy glass. There are clear window films for automotive use that won’t further darken the factory tint. Many consumers attempt to match the privacy glass to their front windows and windshield when it is legal to do so in their local jurisdiction.

It’s important to be aware that there are laws regarding the tinting of privacy glass. On most vehicles, the VLT of window tint on the rear windows cannot be lower than 20%.  i.e. the combination of privacy glass + film cannot be darker than the 20% VLT limit. This means you can’t legally apply window film on privacy glass that’s already 20% or 15% or lower, even if it’s a clear window film.

The issue here is that the Privacy Glass on some vehicles is already darker than 20%, therefore applying any window film over this is considered illegal.

So why are new cars allowed to have Privacy Glass darker than 20% on the rear windows but you cannot install film darker than 20% on a car without privacy glass? That’s the million dollar question! The law currently states that it’s legal to import cars with privacy darker than 20% on the rear windows, but it’s illegal for any existing car in Australia to be fitted with a film the same darker shade as the privacy glass!

Example of our crazy laws:
An imported 2019 Toyota Prado with Privacy Glass on the rear windows reading at 15% VLT is deemed legal.
A 2019 Toyota Prado (with no Privacy Glass) fitted with 15% VLT window film on the rear windows is deemed illegal.
You could park the cars side by side and not visually notice the difference.
The vehicle with the window film offers UV protection whereas the Privacy Glass does not.

So should I tint my privacy glass? 
If you sit in a vehicle with privacy glass and then sit in a vehicle with tinted windows on a sunny day, you will notice an immediate difference between the two – in particular the ‘burn’ feeling from the sun. It is our recommendation to have window film installed when legal to do so.
We recommend visiting your nearest store who can use a VLT meter reader to determine how dark your privacy glass is. This will help determine whether a light coloured window film can be installed over the top.