Walk along the streets of our cities or drive on our roads and you’ll notice that every car in Malaysia has something in common. Every window is darkened, every windscreen has a dark film that will keep the sun out and the interior of the car cosy and cool even in our hot climate.

It’s a thing that unites us, a little like our pride in our national cuisines or our disappointment in the Government.

A few keystrokes on the Internet will reveal that there are too many brands of window tints in our country. However, even if you have lived under a rock, there’s no doubt you would’ve heard of 3M.

THE PRODUCT
3M is a multinational conglomerate. One of the things they do is provide automotive tinting, and the best part is that they manufacture the components required. This was said offhandedly (but with a hint of deserved pride) by their representative when we oversaw the tinting process of my car, a ZC32 Suzuki Swift Sport, together.

This is impressive, because then 3M has full control of the processes, from R&D to quality control. Take, for example the 3M AutoFilm Crystalline Series. There are 200 layers of nanotechnology in this film, but it’s only 2mm thick.

3M has six other tinting products as well, ranging from darker tints to security-biased ones. The Crystalline Series stands out amongst them as the one that allows good light penetration (hence the name) but still records great heat rejection.

The final layer of the 200 is the adhesive, which 3M manufactures as well. This is great, because the formula is tailored specifically for the tint and it is uniformly distributed, ensuring a perfectly consistent adhesion.

For my car, I asked for the aforementioned Crystalline Series for a few reasons, even though it isn’t a security film. I wanted every window except the windscreen to have the same shade of tint, and I didn’t want to apply for darker tints.

If you recall, the amended rules for car tint states that the front windscreen, and front passenger window must allow 70% and 50% VLT (Visible Light Transmission) respectively. Any higher and the user needs to apply for a special permit. All rear windows can be darkened with no restrictions.

3M’s security films start at a minimum of 40% VLT and following my preference, the technicians installed a tint that allowed 70% VLT on my windscreen and 50% VLT on every other window of the car.

THE SERVICE
Scrutinising the process from start to finish for the first time, what impressed me most were the ease in which the two technicians performed their duties.

The initial preparation of the car was finished meticulously and quickly in under an hour. A towel was always laid on every panel before work is performed so none of the mixture used to clean the glass seeped under the panels.

Interestingly, I discovered that the cleaning liquid is actually a mixture of baby shampoo and purified water. It leaves no residue so the tint will adhere properly without any awful markings beneath it.

Door panels were opened too, which is a necessary evil to ensure the tint goes all the way onto the bottom of the glass. Thankfully, it didn’t cause any new rattles after as the experienced technicians put it back together splendidly.

Attention to detail also extended to my SmarTag usage as I was advised to leave a small rectangle on the top right corner of my windshield untinted for unobstructed passage through the toll gates. This was fantastic advice as the tint blocks out 97% of infrared light which would render the device useless.

My appointment was for 2pm in the afternoon, and before the clock turned four, the job was done. Usually, it takes an hour longer, but as the car did not have prior tinting that required removal, it was a faster procedure.

The final flourish to the process was a five-year warranty certificate that was sent to me within a day.

THE EXPERIENCE
Immediately after the installation, we took readings of the sun outside, as you can see from the pictures below. The glass by itself removed 12% of the solar energy (here’s an explanation on BTU if you’re feeling nerdy), while the tint on the front windshield eliminated 91%.

The tint on the side windows are at an angle relative to the sun and is also a little darker, so it removed 94% of the energy.

It’s quite an improvement and of course, when on the move the interior of the car is an infinitely cooler place to be. Coming back to the car after leaving it out in the sun all day is no longer hazardous to my sanity or health, as having the film also removes almost all UV rays.

Overall, it was a fine experience to have left my car in their capable hands. The workmanship is without fault and the edges of the film ran parallel to the frames of the glass. There was also no leftover odour that usually comes with the use of adhesives.

Huge thanks to 3M for sponsoring the product, and to Starblaze Tinted Solutions for handling the job with such care.

The price and some specifications of the film are as below:

3M AutoFilm Crystalline Series:

please disregard the 6% GST

As mentioned above, 3M has a whole selection of tints to match your needs and your budget. The Ebony Series, for example, starts at RM1400 for standard saloons and they also have a coating called the Ceramic 9H Coating if you want to protect your paint. You can drop by at any of their authorised dealers to find out more.


IMAGE GALLERY – BEFORE


IMAGE GALLERY – AFTER


IMAGE GALLERY – WORK IN PROGRESS


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lionel
Lionel firmly believes that all cars are worth driving, but only the great ones are able to connect with the driver. His pursuit of this intangible character leads to disappointment most of the time, but now and then a car comes along and makes it all very, very worth it.