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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BMW E90/E92/E93 3-series General Forums > Regional Forums > USA - Mid-Atlantic > Out of 237 tint shops tried the top 38, found 1 that can do e92 dot matrix - Richmond

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      04-07-2011, 07:48 PM   #1
Legion5's Avatar

Drives: e92
Join Date: Dec 2007
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First off I want to say that the first thread was already closed because it turned into an arguments for 2 reasons:

#1. Because people argued about the value of a tint job and how much they were willing to pay. This isn't the place to argue it, I'm just presenting an option, not offering a place to discuss what you think is worth paying for.

#2. Because people thought I was being paid to post this, I'm not, which makes putting up with arguments all the less enticing.

So keep it civil, thanks.

Second off, yes I really am serious. I'm a really big perfectionist and my job revolves around researching things in a rational way, so it's pretty easy for me to simply carry that over into cars. I've already gone through the trouble of trying every single credible Angel Eye bulb solution on the market (see the Angel Eyes Comparison thread), tracking down 6 different supercharger variants for my weekend car to get seat time, and with the 335i I personally saw every color available on a 335i and tried every option in person back to back(which took 2 months) and I did the same thing for my upcoming M3 (which took another 2 months). So to get my dot matrix tinted properly here's what I did:

I heard some people got their dot matrix to look right but after a lot of looking around I couldn't find solid evidence of what worked, so I decided to try a few different options and I had my rear window tinted by 9 different tint shops within the top 50 rated of 237 and I called up 29 within those 50. 21 of the 29 shops I called recommended that the rear window be Vinyled, 8 said they would try to tint it and results would be hit or miss. Of the 9 tint shops I tried 3 recommended vinyl, 5 said they could get decent results and 1 succeeded. It's pretty lucky that I found the one that did succeed because it was recommended by a friend and I might have just given up before visiting them. Between the 9 shops and travel expenses I actually spent 3 months and well over $1000 doing all the research.

Based on those numbers this means that it's reasonable to guess that less than 1% of tint shops know what they are doing, which is really kind of not what it should be. The one shop that did know what they were doing is actually regarded by tinting organizations to be one of the best shops on the east coast and was named the best at least one year.

So what did the tint shop that got it right do? Well simply put they used a combination of prepping the dot matrix with a unique method and then using localized heat. This and the use of a special glue are the only two methods that I've heard that will work. So am I going to teach this to people? Well the answer is that I am. I've made arrangements to teach the 8 tint shops that failed to tint my car how to do it right over the next few months. I'm also considering making a tutorial video. At this point though I don't know the ins and outs and at best I'd be able to teach people is how to ruin their car's windows in 3 easy steps.

Based on everyone I've talked to (and extensivly interviewing anyone who I could find that got their dot matrix done right) it seems if something special wasn't done (prep + heat or glue) with your tint and you got a good result you either got lucky, or have low standards. You have the best chances of getting luck if your tint should be done in the summer and if due to manufacturing variation your dot matrix is thinner than most, which I've seen back to back as having half the thickness in some BMW's.

The brand of tint doesn't seem to matter much, but the best results are from either Madico tint or cheap eBay tint which is thinner and more pliable. I've tried the following tint on my own car, the pics (if available) are after the tint was tacked down by the shop and I waited at least 3 days, the pics make it seem worse than it is due to high contrast, also my dot matrix is thicker than the others I've seen:

#1 Huper Optik (below average), #2 F1 - Pinnacle (average), #3 3M - Non-metalic (terrible), #4 3M - Metallic (terrible), #5 3M - Crystalline (terrible), #6 LLumar (average), #7 Soltek (above average), #8
Madico (above average) (done twice)

#1 #2 #3 #6

So my buddy (who's car I shot as modded e92 of the month ) led me to one of the best tint shops on the East Coast located in Richmond and after seeing some of their work I decided to let them tint my car. I also want to add that I made it my goal to give this the worst chance possible, I tinted my car in the middle of winter and kept it outdoors for the first 7 days with snow on it, which is the worst thing to do. It still turned out beautifully but I made sure to avoid any luck involved. I then waited a full month before posting this review to to see if the tint would pop back up again, it didn't.

I should also add that my tint job actually looks better than the Vinyl I tried, and the shop that got it right uses Madico tint.

Here's how you can be helped, unless you can find a tinter that know what they're doing (again prep+heat or glue, anything else means you should run) the best option is to use the same guy I used, which is why I've tried to put together a deal for forum members. The guy that does all the tinting at the shop I used is named Kyle, unlike any tinter I've heard of he actually went through an organized apprenticeship though an old school tinters society for decades to get the best experience in his field (which is nifty, but the important thing is it got the job done). As an added benefit these guys will get the windows tinted litelrally up the glass with no gap, which I've never seen anyone do. I paid around $500 for my job which as I've heard is a lot, but if it's the only option then I'm willing to pay. Unfortunately as it turns out that was actually a deal. The shop does a lot of high end work and even a few celebrity cars so their going rate is $570-$800 for a car that requires additional work. I honestly thought the place was BS'ing when they told me that but then they showed me their sales records and they sell at least 1 $800 tint job a week. Anyways the shop owner was sympathetic to the fact that it's really hard to tint these cars right and he'd be helping a lot of people if he charged a "normal" price for the service and started teaching other shops to do what he does. They did say that they don't like doing the work because it requires 2 visits and a lot of effort compared to most cars but they were willing to cut a deal as a favor to this forum. The discounted rate I scrounged together for those that want to have these guys do your car is $465 for people that are from outside the city and $500 for those inside it. Like I said these guys charge $800 to tint a Porsche Cayman so this is a discount and they were reluctant to offer it for a service which takes extra effort like our cars. So please don't argue this, I'm just putting this out there.

Note: to get the discount find the number to RPM in Richmond and when you call ask for Joe and say you're from the BMW Forum, the prices include the shop fee but I don't recal if they included taxes.

My result:

A. B. C. (click)

Notice the tiny blue spot on the left of the upper defroster line (image B), that's how the whole top of the window looked in the others. The tint obviously doesn't lay down completely flat because it's not a flat surface so there is some partial lift off around the ridges of the dot matrix which makes the tint look lighter or catches reflections, but this is much better than all the other options which resulted in full lift off that looked bright blue, not grey . You can see the difference between the blue and the light grey areas in the full size of image C, you'll have to click to see the full size.

Anyways I hope that helped and I hope me spending $1000 and 3 months doing tint every weekend to get mine right won't cost you as much time, money or effort.

Last edited by Legion5; 04-08-2011 at 07:09 PM.
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      04-08-2011, 11:58 AM   #2
Mach V Dan
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Drives: 2009 E90 335i
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This is awesome. And also, scary.

Mach V
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      04-08-2011, 12:32 PM   #3
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Talk about a perfectionist! Nice review.
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      04-08-2011, 12:42 PM   #4

Drives: E90 328i xDrive
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: VA

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Nice review. I'll keep this in mind when I get my tint done soon.

daily: E90 LCI 328i #AWE90
track toy: E36 M3 #bcRCR
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      04-08-2011, 09:13 PM   #5
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Garage List
First- thanks for taking the time to help.

Second- Please seek help (just kidding).

Third- you said that you made arrangements to teach the other shops. Did the shop you found in the end agree to help you, or did you have to learn this and will be teaching it? Either way- thats pretty damn cool of you and them.

Fourth- Pre Wo0T on your M3!
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      08-20-2012, 01:48 PM   #6
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That's a super informative write up, am in the process of sourcing a tinter who is hopefully aware of the Dot matrix problems to carry out tinting on my car

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      01-06-2013, 04:57 PM   #7

Drives: 2009 E92 M3 / CF roof
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Sun Valley CA.

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Thank you Legion5.

I know it's a long shot but, does your shop have a recommend for fellow perfectionists in LA? Everyone here goes to SunShield.
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