Frequently Asked Questions - Automotive
Where can I buy Gila® Window Film?
Click here to find a partial list of major retailers that carry Gila Window Film.
Note: product selection and stock vary by retailer.
Is there a backing (liner) on the film?
Yes, there is a clear liner on the back of the film to protect the adhesive from contamination. Remove the liner by attaching two 3" long pieces of transparent tape to the front and back surfaces of a corner of the film so that about 1" of tape is on the film, and the rest is centered and hanging over the pointed corner of the film. Firmly press the two pieces of tape together and quickly pull them apart to separate the clear liner away from the (dry) adhesive side of the film.
For small pieces, remove the liner diagonally, from one corner toward the opposing corner. For pieces larger than 2'x2', run your finger from the separated corner along the shorter edge to the next corner, then peel back and remove the liner from straight edge to straight edge.
What type of soap can I use to clean the window and apply the film?
We recommend using Gila FILM AID concentrate mixed with one quart of water. If you do not have FILM AID, mix ¼ tsp. no tears baby shampoo (without conditioner) with one quart of water. DO NOT use ammonia products or vinegar to clean the windows or the film.
Can I use automotive window film on Plexiglas or plastic windows?
Window film adhesive should not make contact with plastic, Plexiglas, acrylic or lexan surfaces. The film's adhesive contains chemicals that could react with the organic base of a plastic surface to produce a milky, bubbly appearance. If the appearance of the plastic is not important, film can certainly be applied. Suggestion: Gila brand removable-reusable static-cling vinyl is perfect for use on flat plastic surfaces.
Can I double-layer the film to make the window darker?
We do not recommend layering two films. Most attempts of this nature lead to increased air bubbles. If a darker look is desired, we suggests Gila® Xtreme Limo Black film.
How long will the film last before I need to replace it?
Film should last for 3-4 years, presuming correct installation and proper maintenance. Direct exposure to UV rays and heat may decrease longevity of product. Scratch-resistant and metalized films provide greater durability and prolonged life.
What causes film to fade?
The primary cause of film fading is ultraviolet energy, which breaks down the dyes and pigments. Gila films contain advanced UV inhibitors which help delay UV deterioration; however, colored films will lighten in time, as they absorb and block the UV rays that would otherwise fade interior vinyl and upholstery. Metalized films maintain their original appearance longer. UltraShield films will provide the longest protection and look the best over time as they contain special UV absorbers in addition to the UV inhibitors in the adhesive.
Do you have films wider than 24"?
Careful research supports a maximum film size of 24", which covers 98% of automotive windows with the least amount of waste for the consumer.
How do I remove the film and the adhesive?
Gila brand EZMount adhesive makes film removal easy and clean. Removal is as easy as peeling the film away from the glass. If your film has been installed for more than a year, it may not contain EZMount adhesive. In this case, the easiest way to remove old film is with the Gila FR200 Window Film Adhesive Remover Solution. Or you can loosen the film at the top of the window with a razor blade. Grip the film firmly and pull it from one corner across the window. Adhesive will remain on the glass. Add ammonia as needed to the solution and spray onto the adhesive residue. Rub this mixture into the adhesive to soften. Repeat if necessary until the adhesive turns white and gummy, then shave the adhesive from the glass with a new razor blade. Keep the surface wet until you have removed the adhesive residue. Then thoroughly clean the window with the original soapy water solution and dry with a cloth. Wait at least 24 hours before applying new film to the window.
Or you can sweat it! The "sweat" method involves the use of black plastic sheeting (cut from a black trash bag) and the removal solution discussed above. It works well on warm, clear, sunny days. The optimum temperature range is about 60°F.
- Obtain a large black plastic garbage bag.
- Carefully slit it open with scissors to its most effective size to cover the window glass.
- Spray the window on the outside and clean it thoroughly.
- Spray the glass again on the outside and use the plastic sheet made from the garbage bag to completely cover the glass.
- Trim plastic to precisely fit the shape of the window, so the sheet will cover the ENTIRE film surface when positioned on the INSIDE of the glass.
- Remove the trimmed plastic template from the outside.
- Spray the inside (filmed) surface of the window thoroughly with removal solution. Avoid breathing rising fumes.
- Immediately lay up your pre-cut black plastic sheet onto the wet inside surface of the glass.
- Position it carefully to cover all exposed film, smoothing out any large air pockets with the palm of your hand.
- Place vehicle window in direct sunlight, oriented so the sunlight most directly impacts the glass.
- Allow trapped solution to soak through film for about 30 minutes. Keep car doors closed during this period to achieve maximum temperatures and minimize evaporation.
- Check the film's readiness to release from the glass surface with a fingernail or razor blade by picking at a corner. If it readily yields, proceed with the peel down. Slowly peel down diagonally ensuring the plastic remains on the film surface. This will help the temperature of the already softened adhesive to remain high for an easy release. (Glass temperature drops as exposed moisture instantly evaporates, carrying away heat with it.)
- If the film won't budge, peel down the plastic sheeting, re-spray with solution, re-position plastic and check again in 30 minutes. Do not allow removal solution to dry up under the plastic. This is equivalent to starting over.
- Repeat as necessary until film releases from the glass surface. Should any adhesive remain on the glass after peeling away film, IMMEDIATELY re-spray the gummy adhesive with removal solution and rub briskly with paper towels or non-scratching nylon pads. If the glass is still quite warm from being in the sun, the adhesive residue should quickly break down and wipe away. If the window glass has no surface components (antenna or defroster wires), a final razor scraping of the wet glass will work fine to strip adhesive residue.
NOTE: With direct sun exposure in hot climates, very rapid "peel-offs" can occur in as little 20 minutes. Parking the vehicle indoors and soaking (undisturbed) overnight should be considered, prepping the rear window as described in Steps 1-9.
Is overspray from the application solution harmful?
The solution is no more harmful than a gentle soap solution, such as baby shampoo. Nevertheless, we suggest that you use the solution in a well-ventilated area and use drop cloths to cover the carpeting, seats, and other surfaces inside the vehicle.
Can film be installed on car sunroof windows?
Film can be safely installed on tempered auto glass but less safely on laminated glass. Sunroofs are usually tempered. Windshields ("windscreens") are laminated safety glass and most side and rear windows are tempered glass, though many luxury cars have laminated side windows to reduce noise levels and improve safety. Both glass types require a ceramic stamp when manufactured indicating whether the glass is tempered or laminated.
Any type of auto film can be installed without concerns about thermal stress on tempered auto glass.
Nearly all sunroofs are tempered, and the best solar performance comes from highly reflective film. Sunroof glass almost always has a dark factory tint that will hide any appearance of reflective film from the outside. But reflective films dramatically reduce the direct transmission of solar radiant heat.
Laminated glass is a bit more questionable. We do not recommend applying films with less than a 35% visible light transmission on laminated auto glass.
How do I remove trapped air bubbles?
If an air bubble under the film is detected immediately after installation, re-spray the film and use the squeegee or wrapped hard-card to squeegee the area out toward the nearest edge. If the bubble still remains, carefully lift the nearest edge, re-spray the adhesive thoroughly, and re-squeegee that region of the film. Before lifting the film, be sure the film edges have been properly trimmed and the borders of the window (along the film edge) have been dried with a hard card wrapped in a paper towel to absorb the perimeter gasket moisture. The reason for drying the border FIRST (before lifting and re-wetting the adhesive) is that otherwise liquid at the edge will immediately flow back under the film, carrying contamination with it from the edge to the center areas of the window. After lifting the film, re-spray the entire exposed adhesive with the Gila application solution, and allow the film to flow back down. Re-spray the film surface, and proceed to firmly and systematically re-squeegee the film.
How do I tint compound curved windows?
Most new cars and vans have compound curved windows (glass that is curved not only from top to bottom but side to side). Usually, only the rear window is affected, but some vehicles have compound curved glass in the back side locations as well. Applying window film to compound curved windows-which bow in two directions-requires cutting a sheet of film into strips, because one piece of film cannot stretch to cover a compound curved surface. Professional installers use a heat-forming method to shrink film to fit, but this process requires months of training and is not suitable for DIY Gila film products.
If you want to cut your own strips from any other Gila Window Film kit, carefully read the detailed application instructions enclosed in the kit before starting. Many consumers find that applying strips is easy because the pieces of film are smaller. What requires some effort is determining how many strips to cut. Most installers prefer horizontal-not vertical-strips, especially if the vehicle has defroster lines in the glass. Horizontal strips are less noticeable to the eye.
Over 70% of all compound curved glass can be tinted effectively with 4 strips. Measure the height of the glass at its tallest point, divide by four, and precut the strips.
Are there any special glass cleaning tips?
Cleaning windows properly is important to the final appearance of the film. Any dirt, grit, or smudges left on the glass will affect the bonding of the adhesive as well as mar the appearance of the film.
Gila recommends mixing ¼ tsp. baby shampoo (or FILM AID Application Solution) in a quart of distilled water to clean the glass and install the film.
You may need to use vinegar or ammonia-based window cleaner to remove stubborn residues like cigarette smoke. If so, rinse the glass several times with the recommended solution before applying film. Failure to do so may cause film to not adhere properly.
Is it safe to install film over defroster wires on the back window of a car?
It is safe to apply film to windows with defroster lines, provided the lines are factory-installed. These lines are (1) completely imbedded in the glass, or (2) laminated by an amber or orange plastic coating on top of the glass. DO NOT apply film over painted-on defogger lines or the exposed silver-colored lines of aftermarket kits.
Apply the film according to the step-by-step instruction sheet rolled up inside of the Gila Window Film you purchased. When you reach step 9, use the following procedure to ensure proper film adhesion on your defroster lines:
Squeegee the film from the middle of the window toward each side. Then, starting at the top of the window, squeegee to the left and right from an "invisible" vertical line that you imagine bisects the height or your window. You will be squeegeeing parallel to (in the same direction as) the defroster lines to draw as much water as possible out from the left and right sides of the film. Use a soft, absorbent cloth or paper coffee filters to dab the excess water from the edges of the film.
After squeegeeing the film into place, use the soapy water solution to spray the edge of your squeegee blade and re-spray the surface of the film. Start at the top center of the window and squeegee downward. Each subsequent squeegee stroke will be downward, moving to the left and right of that initial vertical line. As you squeegee over the defroster line, press the film firmly to force it to conform to the line. At this stage, you are trying to press out all air bubbles and water pockets.
Always spray the film before squeegeeing. If any puckers or bubbles remain under the film, re-spray the film between the pucker and the nearest edge, then firmly push the bubble toward the edge with the squeegee. To accelerate the curing (bonding) of the adhesive to the defroster lines, use a hair dryer (not a heat gun). Hold the dryer 12" away from the outside of the glass, heat and fan settings on high, and move the dryer slowly side to side for 3-5 minutes. This will warm up the glass and encourage bonding, especially if the weather is cool and/or humid. Otherwise, park the car to receive as much direct sunlight as possible for 24-36 hours.
Special Note: Use care when cutting film with a razor blade or utility knife near defroster lines. Do not cut across defroster lines while applying film. After application, wait at least 48 hours before activating defroster lines.
Does window film on cars improve gas mileage by reducing air-conditioning needs?
During the summer, running your air conditioner reduces gas mileage by roughly 10%. By installing film, you are increasing your personal comfort, reducing the temperatures of otherwise exposed interior surfaces of your car (steering wheel, upholstery, etc), and protecting the cars interior from UV light. Exactly how much gas consumption is decreased with the addition of a solar control film is very difficult to say, and the issue is controversial. The problem is that newer cars have compressors that do not cycle on and off, running continuously so long as the AC option is selected on the dashboard control switch. There is legislation being considered in some states that may require very high solar performance glass, so as to allow the reduction in size of the AC compressor, thus definitely improving gas mileage. Cars that have fully automatic climatic control systems appear to enjoy the benefit of delayed compressor use with high performance film or glass, and thus improved gas mileage. As things stand now, the most we can say is that with film you are less likely to need to turn the AC on with window film as soon as with a car without film. Moreover, a car's AC system can cool the interior down more quickly with film, and fan speeds do not need to operate as high to get comparable cooling effects from an AC system.
How do I remove film from a back window in a car that has defroster wires?
Removing film from defroster lines is not impossible, but requires patience and care. DO NOT PULL FILM FORCIBLY FROM GLASS WITH DEFROSTER WIRES. Damage to them could result. See Question 8: How do I remove the film and the adhesive?