Tint My Ride July/August 2023

July 27th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs

A Theory on Bubbling Back Windshields

By Joe Doyle

As I sit in traffic and see a car with failed, bubbling window tint film on the rear windshield, I can confidently say, “That’s not my work.” Here’s why I am able to make that claim. First, I have used the same brand of film since 1985 and have experienced less than 10 comebacks for bubbling tint on a rear windshield. On top of that, I have always lifetime-guaranteed my work. Second, I’m not hard to find and I have been based in the same town for all of that time.

Done Right, the First Time

Anyone who purchased a tinted vehicle at a car dealership would certainly return there to try and get the tint replaced if it failed. The dealer would certainly contact me to do that. It has never happened, and in my first 20 years, the vast majority of my work was for dealers.

The last 17 years, I have had the same location doing almost 100% retail customers and if I had bubbling tint jobs my customers would be back at my door. When you tint eight to ten hours a day, five days a week, you can rack up quite a few jobs over the years and if you had just one bad 100-foot roll of film, that would translate into 20-25 failed rear windshield jobs.

So why did I have a few bubblers? Here is my theory and I’m throwing it out there to see what you think. Last summer, a customer called and said her rear glass was bubbling. I did what I always do and told her to come in and let my take a look because you would not believe what people call “bubbling.” Gashes or scratches in the film caused by the customer themselves, chips or scratches on the outside of the glass and even just a smudge on the film have been described to me as bubbling. Also, I have to verify that it’s my work and not someone else’s. That has happened, too. A rear glass can be replaced from an accident or hail and another shop did the re-tint while the customer only remembers me doing it the first time.

The Receipts

Luckily, I have a few signature methods when tinting a rear windshield that allow me to spot my work even without a customer’s receipt. On this customer’s car, I recognized her, my work and the glass was original so I made an appointment for replacement. The tint job was only three years old and I agonized over the cause, thinking about the possibility of a bad roll or the manufacturer making a change to the film. This was a real possibility, as it happened to me with the brand of pin-striping tape I had used at dealerships for years. It suddenly changed, and jobs started going bad in about a year, while jobs five years old still looked new. Replacing all of those affected stripe jobs
just about put me out of business.

The day she dropped her black car off, it was a very hot July afternoon. As I usually do, I opened her trunk and put in a moving blanket to absorb any water that might leak through. I noticed a really swollen quart plastic bottle that looked as if it could burst at any minute from the July heat in the trunk of a black car. It was some kind of alcohol that she had gotten from her job the summer before in 2021.

With the pandemic in full swing, everyone had some kind of germ-killing stuff, and that’s when it hit me, “Did this chemical leak and gas her rear window and cause the tint to fail?” After replacing the tint, I called her to let her know her car was done and asked about the chemical in the trunk and she filled me in. When I asked when the tint started bubbling, she answered, “About a year ago.” I might have a clue to how that job failed.

Joe Doyle is the owner of Tint My Ride in Florissant, Mo.

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