Window tinting preparation

Before

Finally got window tint done on the 1993 245.  Front two windows are 35%, back five are 18%.  It’s pretty dark.  I almost went with 5% on the back five, but I thought that would probably be a little too much, and it does increase your risk of backing into something that you couldn’t see because your windows are too dark.

After

The work was done by Highline Customs in Portland, OR for the tint work. They did a great job, very professional, clean, etc. Took the time to discuss the different options and the tradeoffs. Absolutely recommend these guys – really good people to work with. I would definitely go there again.

I took all of the door panels off myself, including the trim around the back window and the bars for the rear seatbelt, since I’ve done that a zillion times and know how everything goes together. They said it helped them out a lot and saved a lot of time.

Here was my process for prepping the car for the tint job:

1) Remove all four door panels.  This is pretty easy.  If you’ve got manual windows, use a small flat screwdriver to pop the plastic plate off of the window crank.  Remove the crank by unscrewing the center screw (phillips or Torx) and gently pulling or prying the crank arm off. Use a small flat screwdriver to remove the ‘plugs’ in the armrests.  Use a big phillips (or Torx) and take the screws out that mount the armrest.  Once the armrest can rotate, remove the power window switches if necessary and rotate the armrest up while gently pulling it toward you until you rotate it to the right angle for it to come out.

On the front doors, remove the map pockets by turning the plastic clips 90 degrees with a flat screwdriver.  There are three per side.  Then gently pop each corner of the map pocket off of the screw by lifting it straight UP.  If you have an angled screwdriver, loosening the screw can help, but it’s not mandatory.  Once the pocket is loose at the bottom and upper corners, tilt it up and pull the top middle tab out of the door panel.

Now, remove the trim ring around the door handle by pulling it off.  It should come off easily.  Then unscrew the lock knob and remove it.  You may also need to unplug the power window switches if they won’t fit through the hole in the door panel.  Finally, get a big flat screwdriver and carefully pry the clips out.  Start at the bottom and work your way up.  Put the screwdriver in between the plastic clip and the door sheet metal, NOT between the plastic clip and the cardboard door panel.  Once all the clips are popped out, and the door panel is swinging, you can lift the door panel straight up and off of the edge at the top.  Mind the metal door lock knob post, the power window switches, and the wires that plug into the speaker (unplug them after you remove the panel at the top).

2) Remove any decals or stickers from the windows.  Usually you can just peel them off.  A good tint shop will remove any sticker goo with a solvent when they clean the windows.

3) If you have a third tail light on your back window, remove it.  Different types come off differently.  For early cars, just pop the cover off of the light by hand, and slide the tail light assembly upward to unclip it.  On later cars, there are two buttons on the side that remove the cover, and the tail light will be held down with a couple of screws.

If you have a 2-door or a 4-door, you’re done.  If you have a wagon, read on:

4) Now we have to remove the metal bars that cover the back side windows.  These bars hold the rear seat belt anchors.  First, remove the seat belt anchors off of the bars by popping off the plastic covers from the back side using a small screwdriver to expose the (usually 16mm) bolt head. Unscrew it. Save all the bits and pieces. Using a large screwdriver, spread apart the metal u-thing that is wrapped around the vertical bar so that you can get it off.  You don’t have to spread it a lot, maybe 1mm or less.

Remove the side panels below the windows – the spare tire cover on the drivers side, and the cardboard clip-on panel on the passengers side.  For the clip on one, make sure to gently pop the clips out one by one with a screwdriver by prying against the plastic clip and the metal, not against the cardboard.

On the drivers side, get a 18mm socket on a swivel-u-joint extension, and then put a longer extension on that. Put the socket on the bolt at the bottom of the vertical bar (the bar we’re trying to remove) and then unscrew it.  The nuts at the bottom of the bar are glued on, so the bar will loosen at the top. Then you just push the bar down until it’s below the window seal and the tint guys can do their job. You don’t have to take it all the way out.

On the passenger’s side it’s a little harder because of the fuel filler door. Get your 18mm socket and swivel and loosen the bar the same way as on the drivers side. Then drop it down as far as you can. You may have a little pipe (maybe 3 to 5mm in diameter) clipped to your sheet metal by the fuel filler door that is part of the evaporative system. Unclip it from the sheet metal so that it can move about freely. You may also want to remove the rubber o-rings from around the metal where the bar goes through so you have a little more wiggle room. Lower the bar down in front of the fuel filler bulge (forward in the car, that is, toward the engine).  Ff necessary, grab the bottom of the bar where the nut is glued on and pull it towards you to bend the interior sheet metal piece a little bit for more wiggle room.  I had to bend it a few millimeters out on mine.  Eventually, you’ll bend and wiggle it down low enough where the top of the bar is against the rubber seal at the bottom of the window.  That’s good enough (no need to remove the entire bar) and you’re done.

5) If you have a later-style 240 wagon (1990+), you should also remove the black plastic trim around the rear window.  It is held on tight with metal clips and can crack easily.  If you’ve never removed the black plastic door sills at the bottom of the door jams, then go remove one of those, because the rear window plastic is mounted the same way.  The door jam plastic is a lot tougher though.  Just grab one of the door jambs and pull up until it pops off.  Take a look at those little metal clips.  That’s what you are going to be doing, except with much more fragile plastic.  Basically, I started at the bottom where the third brake light was, lifting up in the middle.  Then I used the lower part that was free to pull the side loose, and then pull the top off.  Just avoid bending the plastic too much and you’ll get it off OK.

6) Go get the windows tinted!

7) Installation is the opposite of removal, just make sure you bend everything back and re-clip the evaporative fuel line back to the sheet metal (if you have a wagon).

Highline Customs in Portland, OR for the tint work. They did a great job, very professional, clean, etc. Took the time to discuss the different options and the tradeoffs. Absolutely recommend these guys – really good people to work with. I would definitely go there again.I took all of the door panels off myself, including the trim around the back window and the bars for the rear seatbelt, since I’ve done that a zillion times and know how everything goes together. They said it helped them out a lot and saved a lot of time.