Short Answer: Whether or not you can tint the windows on your leased car usually depends on the manufacturer’s policies. MINI, Porsche, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and Mazda have specific policies allowing you to tint the windows on your leased car. Other manufacturers don’t explicitly prohibit it, but you will want to check with your dealership to see if it will let you tint the windows without charging you for excessive wear or requiring you to remove the tinting when you return the car. Below, we explain the lease-end requirements for the major auto manufacturers.
Can You Tint the Windows on a Leased Car?
Leasing a car allows you to drive it without taking out a personal loan or financing the vehicle. However, while the car is yours for the length of the lease, you may not have the privilege of making modifications to the vehicle. Some lease agreements allow for upgrades that might increase the value of the vehicle, but tinted windows don’t always fit under that category, and making the modification can cause you to violate your lease contract.
The dealer may charge you extra to have the tint removed when you turn in the car at the end of the lease or request that you remove the tint yourself — without damaging the windows — to avoid fees or penalties. Many car manufacturers and dealerships categorize tinted windows as “excessive wear” on the vehicle and will charge a fee if they see signs of this type of damage.
Unless your dealer has already approved window tinting (or other modifications), you will need to bring the leased vehicle back to the dealer in the same condition as when you picked it up from the lot, minus the extra miles added.
The easiest way to check if the dealer allows window tinting is to ask whether it offers tinting as part of a detailing or maintenance package. Some dealerships may offer window tinting services for an extra charge, in which case you can have the tinting done professionally and with the dealer’s approval.
Major Auto Manufacturers’ End-Of-Lease Requirements
Before you turn in your vehicle, the dealership will do a thorough inspection to make sure you have maintained the car through the term of your lease. Most dealers will schedule the inspection around 60 to 90 days before the end of your lease, and the inspection report will have a list of any necessary repairs or excess wear charges. You can get the repairs done before you return the car, or simply pay the full amount listed on the inspection report.
Some dealers do not explicitly require a lease-end inspection, but it is recommended, especially if you think your car may have signs of excessive wear and use that will result in extra charges.
In the course of our research, we found that it is usually the manufacturers — not the individual dealerships — that set lease-end requirements. Many have their requirements listed directly on the company website, but not all companies specify exact policies for window tinting. For clarification, you can always check with the dealership. Below, we’ve summarized the requirements for most major auto manufacturers:
- Audi: “Improperly tinted windows” fall under the category of excess wear and use. An inspection will confirm if the tinting is acceptable, and fees apply for any tinting deemed to be excess wear.
- BMW: If there is any excess wear and use present, you will receive an estimated cost for repair shortly after your vehicle inspection. This may include tinted windows, depending on your lease agreement, the make and model of your vehicle, and the dealership.
- Ford: Excess wear and use charges apply for glass damage. Before you return the vehicle, your dealer can determine if you need to remove the window tint or repair any glass damaged by removing the tint.
- GM: You can call to verify whether tinted windows are considered excess wear and tear. If financed through Ally Bank, charges for tinted windows will apply. If it’s a Chrysler, tinted windows fall under the “Excessive Exterior Wear” category, and extra charges will apply.
- Honda: The end-of-lease inspection will determine if there will be extra charges for tinted windows. You may be required to have window tinting removed, or it will be charged as “Excess Wear and Use.”
- Hyundai: Window tinting may fall under the “Wear and Use” category. The vehicle inspector will determine any charges.
- Kia: You should make necessary repairs, including restoring windows that have been tinted, to avoid excess wear and use charges.
- Lexus: Extra charges may apply for vehicle modifications. Check your lease agreement or call the dealer to determine whether the make and model of the car you’ve leased is subject to extra charges if the windows are tinted.
- Mazda: You can tint the windows, but the lease-end inspector may advise you to remove the window tinting during the pre-inspection or risk being charged “Excess Wear and Use” fees.
- Mercedes-Benz: Tinted windows are permitted as long as it was approved and/or installed by an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer.
- MINI: Tinted windows are permitted if they are professionally applied and do not leave holes or scratches after removal.
- Nissan: You can tint the windows but you will be charged if the tint is peeling, fading, bubbling, mismatched, or is considered to be a safety issue.
- Porsche: You can get windows tinted through a Porsche dealer to avoid damage and fees, but you will likely be charged if you get the tint elsewhere and it causes damage to the windows.
- Tesla: Unauthorized alterations or modifications may incur charges, so you’ll need to get approval from the dealer before tinting the windows.
- Toyota: Extra charges may apply for vehicle modifications. Check your lease agreement or call the dealer to determine whether the make and model of the car you’ve leased is subject to extra charges if the windows are tinted.
- Volkswagen: A vehicle inspection before the lease agreement ends will determine whether window tinting is considered “Excess Wear” and therefore subject to charges.
Some manufacturers, such as MINI, Porsche, Nissan, Mercedez-Benz, and Mazda have explicit policies that allow you to tint the windows on your leased car. For other manufactures, you will need to check with your dealership to find out if you can tint the windows without being charged for excessive wear when you return the car. Even if the dealer allows it, you may still need to remove the tinting before you return the car. It may be worth asking the dealership to remove the tint for you so if there is any damage to the glass during removal, you won’t be charged.
For more about modifying and maintaining leased cars, see our article about who is responsible for replacing the tires on a leased car.