Blacked Out Headlights and Taillights – How To and Is It Legal?

Have you seen a car with darkened headlights or taillights? Some people do this to their cars because they think it makes them look good and mysterious. In this article, I’ll discuss blackout headlights and taillights – how-to and whether it is illegal.

You can black out your headlights and taillights by applying black tint film. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Remove the headlight and the taillight assemblies from your vehicle.
  • Clean the headlight and the taillight lenses.
  • Follow the instructions on how to use the black tint film to get the best results.
  • Remove the film backing and then mist the lenses with water.
  • Align the film on the headlights and taillights and attach it.
  • Carefully cut the film at the edges of the headlights and taillights and make the cuts clean.
  • Re-mount the headlights and taillights to the vehicle.

Another way of blacking out your headlights and taillights is by spraying them with black paint. It involves a different process. But before you do this, you should consider its legality. In all areas in the United States, it is illegal to black out automobile headlights and taillights.

Read on to learn more about blacking out your headlights and taillights, the different ways of doing it, and if you are allowed to do it legally.

Also, we hope you find the links here useful. If you purchase something through a link on this page, we may get a commission, so thank you!

Blacked-Out Headlights and Taillights

blacked out headlights and taillights

Cover with Film

The most convenient way to black out the taillights and headlights of your vehicle is to cover them with black film. To do this, you need to follow these steps:

  • Remove the assemblies of the headlights and taillights from your vehicle.
  • Clean the lenses of both assemblies.
  • Read the instructions for the black tint on applying it so you can get the best results properly.
  • Take off the film backing and mist the lenses with water.
  • Carefully align the film on the lenses, then attach it.
  • Using a cutting blade, cut the film at the edges of the lenses, ensuring that the cuts are clean.
  • Reassemble the headlights and taillights in your vehicle.

Spray with Black Paint

Another way of blacking out the lenses of your headlights and taillights is by spraying them with black paint. This is a wet process, so it is a more difficult method. Whatever method you choose, you should understand that this is illegal in all places in the United States.

You can only do this to your vehicle if you don’t intend to drive in the streets and roads in the country. However, race cars are not included in this regulation.

Such vehicles can have black tints on their headlights and taillights. For example, it is illegal for rear taillights to be blacked out or tinted in North Carolina.

Why Do Owners Tint Their Headlights and Taillights?

There are reasons why people tint their cars. One must protect their car lenses from road debris, scratches, damages, or chips. They also want to minimize the fading or yellowing of their headlights and taillights since black tints are superior in resisting UV and high temperatures.

If you want to blackout your lights, especially your turn signal lights, you can consider the High Flying Car Accessories Side Mirrors:

Click here to see this Blacked-out Side Mirror on Amazon.

This is a blacked-out sequential dynamic blacked out turn signal light that will blend with your equally blacked-out headlights and taillights.

How Do You Prepare Taillights and Headlights for Tinting?

Before starting to tint the lenses of your headlights and taillights, you should prepare the materials you need. You will need the following materials:

Lens Cleaning

  • Water
  • Liquid detergent
  • Lint-free or microfiber cloth
  • Sandpaper (wet/dry) 2000 grit
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Headlight restoration kit (optional)

For Black Spray Paint

  • One can of black aerosol spray paint
  • Safety goggles or disposable mask
  • Headlight spray paint
  • Masking tape
  • Clear coat spray, preferably with UV protection

For Black Tint Film

  • Precut (or whole) black vinyl film sheet
  • Squeegee
  • Spray bottle with clean water
  • Sharp cutter or razor blade
  • A blow dryer or heat gun
  • Needle

How to Black Out Headlights and Taillight Lenses with Spray

can you have blacked out tail lights

Here are the steps to black out headlights and taillight lenses with spray paint:

  1. Remove the headlight and taillight assemblies. Follow your car’s repair manual to ensure you are doing it right.
  2. Clean the headlights. Do it according to the instructions in the manual.
  3. Read the instructions that came with the black aerosol spray paint. Follow it to get the best results. Choose a spray paint that is designed for car lenses.
  4. Cover the parts of your car that you don’t want to be sprayed over by the spray paint. Use masking tape for this. Put the lenses on a safe and stable surface where they can’t be disturbed while you are working on them.
  5. Spray one lens at a time. Hold the spray paint perpendicular to the lens and one foot away from the lens. Start spraying going from left to right. Avoid lingering in one spot. Begin with a thin coat and follow it up with two or more coats as you deem fit.
  6. Wait 15 minutes between coats. One coat of paint will take several minutes to dry. So, wait around 15 minutes before you spray the next coat. This will help you avoid spraying too much paint on the lenses. Touch the taped parts to ensure the previous paint is already dry enough.
  7. Spray the clear coat. Once you are done coating the lenses with a black coat, start painting the lenses with a clear coat. Follow the same method and pattern you used to spray the black coat.
  8. Dry the lenses for at least 12 hours. After spraying the clear coat, leave the lenses to dry for at least 12 hours. When the lenses are completely dry, remove the masking tape covering their edges.
  9. Reinstall the headlight and taillight assemblies to the vehicle.
  10. Test the brightness of the blackout lights. Be sure to test the lights to see if the brightness of the light in the lenses is not significantly reduced. If the light radiated by the lenses is decreased considerably, you need to thin out the blackness of the tint.

How to Tint with Film

Tinting your headlights and taillights with the black vinyl film is another way to black them out. If you choose to use this material, here are the steps on how to black out taillights and headlights:

1. Remove the Headlight and Taillight Assemblies

Refer to your car’s owner’s manual for the proper way of doing this.

2. Clean the Lenses of the Headlights and Taillights

To ensure that the adhesive part of the vinyl film will stick firmly and squarely to all the surfaces of the lenses, you must be sure that all dirt or impurities are removed from the lens surfaces.

3. Use Liquid Soap to Wash off the Dirt and Rinse It with Clean Water

For caked-out dirt, use sandpaper to remove the dirt. Then finish off the cleaning by wiping the lens surfaces with rubbing alcohol. If the lenses are still cloudy, use the lens cleansing kit to make them clear and bright.

4. Read the Instructions on How to Apply the Vinyl Film to the Lenses

Use the right vinyl film for your headlight and taillight lenses. If possible, buy precut films to minimize your work of cutting them. But you can purchase full sheets if that’s what you want.

5. Take off the Backing of the Vinyl Film

Mist the lens and the vinyl with clean water. Do the lenses one at a time. Water will lubricate the vinyl film and the lenses so that you can easily maneuver the film in its rightful place.

6. Align the Vinyl Film on the Headlight and Taillight Lenses

Remember to apply the lenses one by one. This will ensure that you give each lens adequate time to position the vinyl films correctly and firmly.

7. Align the Vinyl Film to the Lenses

Start by lightly pressing the film on the flattest section of the lens. Gently maneuver the film into position and carefully move it toward the curved edges of the lens. Continue doing this until you are satisfied with its acquired position. But don’t rush it.

8. A Squeegee Pushes the Trapped Air Between the Vinyl Film and the Water

If you are already satisfied with the position of the film, wet the part of the film that is facing you with water.

9. Push out the Trapped Air Beneath the Film

Return to the flattest section of the lens and push out the trapped air beneath the film and use a squeeze to squeeze the air out. Use smooth strokes to do this.

10. Use the Blow Dryer or a Heat Gun to Increase the Flexibility of the Vinyl Film

This way, it can adhere more smoothly on the lens surface, especially on the hard-to-reach sections and curved parts.

11. Trim the Excess Vinyl Film

If you install precut films, you will only trim a minimum of extra vinyl film. But if you use whole sheets of vinyl film, begin by cutting the sheets in rough cuts. And then finish up the trimmings with more detailed final trims.

12. Pull the Excess Trimmings and Poke the Remaining Bubbles on the Film

Be gentle on your razor or blade trimmings so you won’t cut through the lens. Finally, pull the excess trimmings and poke the remaining bubbles on the film using the needle.

13. Mount the Headlight and the Taillight Assemblies Back to Your Vehicle

Mount the headlight and the taillight assemblies back to your vehicle. Test the clarity of the lenses to see if they can still illuminate your way, even if it is very dark at night. If the light appears dim, you may need to change the black vinyl film to a lighter shade:

DIYAH Self-Adhesive Vinyl Film

You can use a vinyl film for this purpose: the DIYAH Self Adhesive Vinyl Film:

Click here to see this Self-adhesive Vinyl Film on Amazon.

You can use it to cover your headlights, taillights, or fog lights.

VViVid Air-Tint Dark Black Full Car Wrap Roll

Another vinyl film you can consider is the VViVid Air-Tint Dark Black Full Car Wrap Roll:

Click here to see this Car Vinyl Wrap Roll on Amazon.

VVIVID Air-Tints are an industry first: a headlight/taillight tint with all of the technologies developed in VVIVID+ premium materials. This is a headlight/taillight tinting product with all the technology that makes it a premium tinting material.

Again, can you have blacked-out headlights? Check with your insurance company before tinting your headlights using spray or film. Note that it is illegal to have blacked-out headlights in most states.

Factors to Consider Before Blacking Out Your Headlights and Taillights

can you have blacked out headlights

There are things that you need to consider seriously before blacking out the lenses of your car’s headlights and taillights:

1. State Regulations

Most states in the country prohibit the tinting of headlights and taillights. Some states have no specific regulations, but they still disallow modifications on headlights and taillights. They don’t allow covering or tinting them.

2. Intent

What’s your purpose in blacking out your headlight and taillight lenses? It is prohibited in many states to modify your car’s headlight and taillight lenses. They don’t allow the altering or changing car headlights and taillight lenses to increase visibility.

3. Type of Lights

What is the type of light installed in your car? Are they clear lights or shaded lights? Some states require their motorists only to use white and clear lights on their headlights. These states do not allow any other color shade.

4. Light Beam’s Pattern

Most states require the headlights of cars in their territory to only have wide and bright beam patterns. Remember that other aftermarket headlights do not conform to the requirements of most states.

Frequently Asked Questions

You now have reached the section that discusses the frequently asked questions about this topic. If you still have some of these questions in your mind, maybe you will get your answers from the ones listed below:

Are Black-out Headlights Legal in the United States?

Most likely, it is not legal to have your headlights and taillights blacked out in your local state. Covering the lenses of headlights and taillights is not permitted in most states.

You must clear it with your car insurance company if your coverage is voided if you blackout your headlights and taillights.

How Can I Blackout My Headlights and Taillights?

There are two methods to blackout your headlights and taillights. One way is to use vinyl film, and the other is to spray the lenses with black paint.

It is easier and less messy to do it with black vinyl film. With spray paint, you have to mask the parts of the car that you don’t want to be touched with paint.

In both methods, you have to remove the lenses from the vehicle so you will be able to work on the lenses more quickly and conveniently.

Why Do Some People Blackout Their Headlights and Taillights?

Some people want to make a personal statement with their cars. One of the ways they think they can do this is by tinting their headlights and taillights darker than the normal lenses that most vehicles are equipped with.

Some people want to protect the lenses of their headlights and taillights from damage, chips, scratches, and road debris, so they cover their lenses with protective films of black or darker tints.

Is It Worth Tinting Your Car?

It seems that there are certain benefits in tinting your headlights and taillights. The black or darker cover can protect the lenses from accidental damages and dents inflicted by careless people and wayward road debris.

Are Black-out Taillights Legal in California?

No, it is illegal to have tinted taillights and headlights in California. This state has specific laws, along with the rest of the states in the union, which disallow the use of smoked or tinted lenses in automobiles.

In Closing

Applying black tint film is the most convenient way of blacking out your headlights and taillights. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Remove the headlight and the taillight assemblies
  • Clean the lenses of both the headlights and the taillights
  • Read the instructions that came with the black tint film and follow them to get the best results
  • Take off the backing of the film and mist the lenses with water
  • Carefully align the film on the headlights and taillights, then attach it.
  • Cut the excess film at the edges of the lenses to make them as clean as possible
  • Re-mount the headlights and taillights to the car.

But don’t just blackout your headlights and taillights because darkened lights and lenses of automobiles are not legal in most areas in the United States. Before you do this, clear it first with the authorities in your local state.

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