So, the windshield on your vehicle was damaged, right? And it’s something that you just can’t repair or you don’t want to repair. That means now, you’re looking at ways to get the windshield replaced and you’re not totally sure what your best option is going to be. Maybe you’ve heard that there are a couple different options when it comes to the glass you choose and you don’t k
now enough about them. Well, when it comes down to it, OEM vs. aftermarket glass is actually an important decision for you to make. And we’ll help you make it.
What Are OEM Windshields?
First, an OEM windshield means that it’s an Original Equipment Manufacturer. That means whoever was responsible for making the windshield on the vehicle when it was built in the factory is the same one that’s going to be responsible for making it this time. It means that you’re getting a windshield that is as close as possible to the original one on your vehicle. It should mean a whole lot of other important factors, but we’ll get to those in a minute.
What are Aftermarket Windshields?
An aftermarket windshield is one that’s made by any company other than the one that made the original. That means it could be a third party windshield maker or an original manufacturer for a different company or a different line of products. You’re not getting the exact same manufacturer and product line that your vehicle would have gotten in the factory, but in most cases what you’re getting is substantially similar. Still, there are some benefits and drawbacks that we’ll talk about below, so you can make an informed decision.
The Benefits (and Drawbacks) of OEM
We’ll talk about OEM windshields first, because they’re actually supposed to be the same as the original piece you had. That’s definitely going to mean a lot of benefits, like the fact that it should fit exactly right. Because of the perfect fit, the level of safety that you get as a result should actually be exactly like when your car rolled out of the factory. That’s going to be extremely important to anyone. You’ll also know that the company is meeting all of the same standards that your vehicle’s original manufacturer expected them to, which is going to be a good standard.
On the other side, you’re going to spend more to get an OEM windshield than you will for an aftermarket one. Remember, these companies are going to be some of the best. They’re employed by those automotive manufacturers and they charge a decent amount for that. On top of that, even if your insurance company is paying for the repair or replacement, they may not cover the entire cost when it comes to an OEM windshield. That’s because the insurance company generally doesn’t consider them a necessity and believes the aftermarket parts are going to be just as good, and less expensive too.
The Benefits (and Drawbacks) of Aftermarket
When it comes to aftermarket products you are going to have some benefits. First, you’re still going to have superior safety. That’s because the company and the product they create still has to meet at least the minimum safety standards that the Department of Transportation sets. On top of that, you’re going to have a lower cost option. Your insurance company is generally going to have no problem paying for this (if you have glass coverage on your vehicle) and even if they don’t you’ll be spending less money personally.
The downside, however, is that you’re not going to have the same quality standards that you would expect from an OEM product. There’s no vehicle manufacturer watching to make sure that they meet even higher standards than what the Department of Transportation requires. You’re also going to have some confusion or potential problems if you don’t replace the windshield with the right type of glass because of any ADAS features that you might already have in your vehicle. The wrong type of glass makes it difficult or even impossible for your vehicle to interact properly through the lights and sensors.
Which Glass Option is Best For You?
When it comes down to OEM vs. aftermarket glass you’ll want to check out the recommendations from your company. We’re not talking about your insurance company. They’re always going to steer you toward the option that’s cheaper for them. But if you talk with the vehicle manufacturer they’re going to make recommendations that relate to the structural integrity of your vehicle. Keep in mind that the glass is going to have to support your vehicle in case of a rollover, and that means you’re probably going to want some pretty high standards involved.
Not everyone believes that an aftermarket product is less durable than the original manufacturer option. Some believe that they really do have the same standard and quality. The final decision is going to be something that you, your insurance provider, the manufacturer and maybe a specialist in auto glass are going to have to make together. And keep in mind that even if you have evidence that original parts are safer it doesn’t mean that your insurance company is actually going to listen or that they’re going to pay for you to get that original manufacturer glass.
Some companies, like Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Nissan require or at least strongly recommend that you replace any windshield glass with OEM glass. This, they say, is because of the ADAS systems that they use within the vehicles. They say that if you replace your vehicle with a different type of product you could actually be compromising the safety of the vehicle overall. You could also be compromising the systems that you count on to let you know the conditions around you. That’s because aftermarket parts are never going to have the exact same qualities or standards as the OEM ones.
Talking with a Pro
Your best option is going to be talking with a professional who knows about glass. If you trust the mechanic or technician that’s going to be working on your vehicle you can talk to them about the options. They know a decent amount about the industry and they’ve probably installed both OEM and aftermarket glass before. They know about the quality (in general) and they know about how long they last. You want to know things like, does it have the same safety standards, does it leak and does it make noise. Any of these things are possible with an aftermarket product.
You’re also going to want to know if that product complies with the ADAS requirements of your vehicle. The right technician should be able to tell you all of these things. They should be able to make sure that your vehicle is going to operate properly and that you can trust all of the different aspects of it. If they can’t, you’re going to want to find a professional who can. Make sure it’s something that you feel comfortable with and that you trust to provide you with accurate information.
You don’t want to make your decision entirely based on whether the insurance company is going to pay for the product or not. Rather, you want to make sure that you’re making a decision you’re going to feel comfortable with when you’re driving that vehicle down the road. Hopefully, you’re going to get quite a long time out of it still, so you need a windshield that’s going to last. And if you’re concerned about OEM vs. aftermarket glass you’re probably going to be doing a whole lot of talking and research to find out which way is going to offer you the best results in the end.
Making Your Choice
In the end, you’re generally going to have the final say on what you want your vehicle to have. If the windshield needs to be replaced you can choose to have it done with an aftermarket part or an OEM one. Keep in mind that your insurance company may not be willing to pay for an OEM. In some situations you may be able to convince them, if you have a leased vehicle that requires an OEM part or if you can prove the safety standards, but generally that’s not going to be the case.
That means you may be able to get that OEM part, but your insurance company is not going to pay for the difference between the aftermarket and the OEM. Once you’ve done your research and looked at what the car companies say is best, as well as a glass professional and more, you may decide that it’s actually worth the added cost. Keep in mind, you’re actually trusting your family’s safety to this vehicle. You really want to make sure you have something you can rely on and you want something that is going to be held to the highest standards. So make your choice with the research.