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Why Can SUVs Have Darker Tint?

Why Can SUVs Have Darker Tint?

When you see cars and SUVs on the road, you can begin to notice the big differences between them. One of these differences is the fact that SUVs often have tinted rear windows that many cars are not legally able to have. 

You might be wondering why SUVs are able to have dark tinted windows when cars are not. We wanted to find out what the reason was behind it, so we researched it and found some answers. 

So, why can SUVs have a darker tint? SUVs are allowed to have tinted windows in the rear of the vehicle because it is a passenger vehicle that only needs the front windows and the windshield for the driver to see clearly. The rest of the windows are mainly dedicated to the passengers’ comfort, but not for the driver’s visibility. 

This can seem a bit strange because four-door cars have the same reason for wanting the tint, but they can’t legally have it at all, or as dark as an SUV. So, we will discuss why this is and how this can vary by state.

Why SUVs? 

The differentiation between SUVs and other cars is made by determining whether the vehicle is a passenger car or a multi-passenger car. An SUV holds more people and often has three rows of seating, which means that there are more windows. 

A regular car holds four or five people and has only two rows of seating, which means that there are fewer windows needed. However, the number of windows is not the issue, it is actually how the driver is meant to use them that makes the difference.

In a car, it is assumed that the driver will need to be able to look and see clearly out all of the windows of the vehicle. This is because of the smaller size of the vehicle and the fact that the windows are all close enough to see out of. 

In an SUV, it is assumed that the driver will only need to see out of the windshield, front and passenger, and rear window. The third rows may have small windows or an extended second-row window for the farthest seat, but it is assumed that the driver will not use these windows.

Because of this distinction, the tint of the window makes a difference in how well the driver of the car can see out. If the windows of a car are darkly-tinted, then the driver who needs to see out of them has limited visibility. 

That is not considered the case when it comes to an SUV. 

State Regulations 

Although the official answer here works across most states, there are state regulations that vary. Each state can have its own regulations regarding the tint of car windows, and this can make it a bit confusing as to what is allowed.

Depending on what state you live in, the laws about tinting your windows can be different. So, it is best to take a look into your state’s laws to ensure that you are following all of them properly. 

The darkness of the tint can also be an issue because some states will allow a tint up to a certain degree, but nothing darker. Also, this will depend on the type of vehicle that you are driving as well. 

What is Considered a Multi-Passenger Vehicle 

Because a normal sedan or compact car still carries multiple people, it can be confusing at to whether you are is a multi-passenger vehicle or not. Well, this is one distinction that you need to know if you are thinking about getting your windows tinted. 

A multi-passenger vehicle is an automobile that is made to carry ten passengers or less and is constructed on a truck chassis or specific features designed for off-roading. When it comes to a car, this might seem like this fits the definition when it comes to the number of passengers, but it is not made with a chassis or other features for off-roading.

However, this does describe an SUV and makes it clearer why these vehicles are considered a multi-passenger vehicle. 

Window Tinting  

When driving a multi-passenger vehicle, it is more difficult to see out of the windows that are further back. This makes them a feature that is not necessary for driver visibility. When driving a car, you can clearly see out of the back windows and will use them for extra visibility. 

Well, some people might be thinking that the windows in the back of the car are not necessarily needed, so they should be able to heavily tint them to their liking. But the tinting laws take into account the fact that the driver should have the best visibility possible. 

In an SUV, there can be many passengers and items in the back, which tend to partly block your visibility. So, it is assumed that the driver will likely not be able to clearly see out of the back windows on a daily basis anyway. 

So, if they were to get their rear windows tinted, they will still have the same visibility that they had before since they didn’t use those windows to see anyway. However, if you can see out of the rear windows in a car, you will end up using them to see what is happening on the road around you. 

If you were to darkly tint a car’s rear windows, then you are affecting the visibility of the driver. 

In all situations, when it comes to automobiles, the first priority is the safety of the people in the vehicle. If tinting the windows will possibly affect the safety of the driver and passengers, then the law aims to protect from that at all costs.

So, because the rear windows are used, the law states that they should not be darkly tinted to avoid the limiting of the driver’s visibility while on the road. 

What About Other Multi-Passenger Vehicles 

Though the determination between SUVs and cars is significant, the rules seem much murkier when it comes to other vehicles like vans and small SUVs that only hold five people.

Are the rules the same for all these vehicles, or are these other cars not considered multi-passenger vehicles? 

Well, this is the part where things tend to get a bit more complicated, and difficult to explain. So, instead of breaking down all the different possible classifications, the answer is simply that this determination of whether these vehicles are multi-passenger vehicles or not depends on the state you live in. 

Some states make distinctions between small SUVs and larger ones, while others don’t seem to address this issue and appear to see all SUVs as the same. This would allow small SUVs who hold the same number of people as a sedan to have the tinting, but not the sedan itself. 

This can be confusing to some drivers, and you might have to see what your specific state says about the classifications to ensure that you are following the laws.

Darkness of Tint 

Not only does the act of tinting your windows depend on the type of car that you have, but the darkness of the tint is something to think about as well. 

Not all cars can have tinted windows, but there are even fewer vehicles that are allowed to have darkly tinted windows. This is why the tint of the window is measured by percentages, which can be displayed on the window itself for police officers to check. 

If the tint was done illegally, then the tint percentage can be higher than the allowed number. The average percentage allowed is 30%. 

So, if you go to a shop to get it done, they will make it up to 30% darkness and likely nothing more. This will keep you from getting a ticket if police officers pull you over to check your windows, and it helps keep the glare and car temperature down. 

However, you have likely seen some that are over, as this is a rule that is often ignored. This doesn’t mean that you should do it, because you will be risking a ticket if you are caught. 

Final Words 

Understanding why an SUV can have darkly tinted windows when other cars can’t tend to be a little confusing. However, I hope that this information above clears up the issue a bit so that you can know why the laws are what they are, and why there is that distinction.

Whether you were wondering because you own a car and want to know why you are unable to have darkly tinted windows in the rear, you can now see why the law makes certain allowances for larger vehicles that hold more people, and not for smaller cars. 

You may not be happy to know that your car can’t have darky tinted windows, but when you think about the reason behind it, which all comes down to your personal safety.

Hopefully, you see the reason as necessary and know that the law was made to protect you and your passengers, which is always a good thing.

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!