We’ve all been there. As a car owner, you may have considered tinting the car lights with a different color to make it more stylish and just be different. Who wants to have the boring yellow or clear white lights when you can have cool-looking smoked headlights or corner lights? But, before you even consider painting or tinting your lights, first you must know if it’s legal or not.

What the Law Says About Car Light Tinting

Car light tinting is one of the most debated topics among the car owner’s community. Ask a hundred people if it’s legal or not and you may get almost a split vote; and for good reasons. There is no federal law about headlight tinting or painting in the US, and the rules vary from one state to another. Some states are lenient about their guidelines on this issue. However, the majority does not allow the installation of solid colored tinting film because they can block the light coming from your headlamps.

In general, each state has varying rules on the matter of tinting the car’s headlights. The National Headway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires that vehicles must emit a white light visible at a considerable distance (usually no less than 500 feet). White light is, by far, the most efficient color regarding visibility and is considered to be safest.

There are also states that entirely ban tinting even if you are using a thin layer of film or spray. Other states are a bit easy on this rule and allow them under some limitations. The real problem occurs when you are driving from one state to another. To be sure that you are clear, it’s best that you first check if the state you are passing by has a rule against colored car lights.

Guidelines for Tinting Your Car Lights

While your state might allow tinting the car’s headlamps or tail lights, that doesn’t mean you can just do as you please with them. For starters, you don’t want your tint to darken your lights that it has become a driving hazard. As much as possible, you want your car lights to be stylish but still functional and safe.

Below are some guidelines you can use when installing a tint or paint into your lights:

  • Prioritize safety over being stylish. Draw out the curtains and always make your light visible. Remove anything that blocks your light especially additional car accessories.
  • Use lightly smoked or gray shades if you want to tint your lights. They are less likely to affect your vehicle’s light output.
  • Never use bright car shades even if they are allowed in your area. They often cause confusion among road users.
  • If you have zero experience about tinting your car lights, it’s better to let the professionals do the installing.
  • Finally, standout responsibly. It's OK to be stylish but never forget always to consider your safety first.

Road safety is a collective responsibility of all road users. While car accessories such as car tints for your headlamps or tail lamps will make your ride way cooler, this should not distract you from obeying the law of the road. So, before you even tint or paint your lights ensure that it is legal and safe.