Window tint is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity these days. It’s not just rising temperatures that is driving many motorists to tint their windows, but also protection from unidentified flying objects. The latter, which can be anything from an innocent pebble catapulted from the lorry in front, to a malicious helmet swung by the Mat Rempit, can shatter glass and cause injury.
This writer survived such an incident before. It was a peaceful afternoon cruise on the NKVE until what seemed like a gunshot shattered my windcreen into thousands of tiny pieces, the resulting web pattern leaving me with zero forward vision. It was unnerving to say the least, suddenly not being able to see anything at highway speed.
Fortunately, I managed to gradually slow down and inch my way to the emergency lane without further drama. Car parked, I saw the aftershock of passing lorries (they were rolling fast downhill) shake bits of broken glass into the cabin. After half an hour, there was a big gaping hole in the middle of what was once my windscreen!
To avoid a repeat of the above episode, and to protect my new dashboard, I headed to the tint shop upon delivery of my new set of wheels. These days, there are plenty of cheap options from the neighbourhood car accessory shops, but I decided to go for a proper ‘branded’ job for the quality of both film and installation. 3M AutoFilm was top of mind.
With over 40 years experience in making window film, 3M knows what it’s doing. The firm’s Crystalline auto film features a proprietary multi-layer optical film tech that combines over 200 layers in a film that is thinner than a Post-it note. This unique tech is the reason why a relatively clear film can reject more heat than some darker films.
The Crystalline range rejects up to 60% of total solar energy (if there’s one figure in the spec sheet you want to focus on, it’s TSER) and up to 97% of heat-producing infrared rays, as well as 99.9% of UV light. Beach bums, SPF is over 1,000, so your skin is well-protected.
3M Crystalline is available in various tint levels. Crystalline 40, 50, 60 and 70 models are available, with the number denoting visible light transmitted, VLT. The higher the VLT, the lighter the film is. The dark ‘VIP look’ is popular, but since I want to minimise dealings with the JPJ, it was Crystalline 60 for the CR-Z – VLT 60%, TSER 53%.
3M also has a Nano Safety range that improves the integrity of the glass, making it more resistant to blows. The extra seconds required to break the glass may force the intruder to move on, delaying the smash and grab process. This safety + solar film is available in 40% and 70% VLT forms, both three mil in thickness.
3M AutoFilm official dealers are easy to spot, with a standardised big sign board. I opted for the outlet in SS15 Subang Jaya, located at a corner shoplot opposite Subang Parade. Their dust-free, dry-floor, air-conditioned bay, which is not separated from the cozy “living room” waiting area and office, is a comfy place to relax and work with a full view of your car being worked on.
But I took the opportunity to observe the entire process, and am happy to report that the installers were very careful to not cause any damage. Car seats were covered before work started, and the dashboard was padded with cloth to soak up all excess soapy water, which is needed to make the film stick.
I’ve heard of “horror stories” about car electronics going haywire from water seeping into the system, even from big brand installers, so it’s good that extra caution was taken.
My little coupe may not have many glass panels, but it’s quite a small cave to be working in – it wouldn’t have been comfy, but the two guys managed expertly. After the film was cut to size, the layer was applied precisely to ensure that no pockets of air were trapped. Not as straightforward as it sounds, and the job needs an experienced and steady hand for a good finish, which is what I got.
Yours truly has been living with 3M Crystalline 60 for close to three months now, and it has served both car and driver well. The Honda is now looking stealthier than ever in five shades of grey (looks a little bluish in pics, though), and its driver is enjoying the protection from the heat. When parked under the sun, the interior traps less heat, and the cool down process is faster as well.
For peace of mind, 3M AutoFilm purchased and installed at authorised 3M car centres is covered by a five-year manufacturer’s e-warranty from bubbling, peeling and blistering. The only way to guarantee that you are buying a genuine 3M AutoFilm product is to buy directly from a 3M Authorised Car Centre, and you can find out where they are here.