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Oem Glass Vs. Aftermarket Glass - Everything You Need to Know

Updated on October 15, 2019
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Adrian Bell is the Content Marketing Strategist for Reliable Glass, a local, family-owned and operated business that serves Arizona.

When a car owner goes through an entire lifespan of a car without ever needing to replace the windshield, we can consider that person fortunate. That’s because millions of windshields are replaced every year, thanks to loose gravel, rocks, and even birds that hit and damage them, even when the car is running at a slow speed.

If you ever find yourself needing windshield replacement, then you need to know that there are two types of auto glass available to you: OEM glass and aftermarket glass. If you don’t know what either means, then read on to find out so you can make an informed decision when it’s time to get a replacement windshield.

What is OEM auto glass?

OEM is an acronym that stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, and it refers to the auto glass fabricated by the same company licensed by the car manufacturer to provide the auto glass for your vehicle. In other words, purchasing an OEM windshield is an assurance that you’ll get one that’s nearly identical to the windshield you’re replacing, the one that came with your car when it rolled off the assembly line and into your garage.

More often than not, an OEM windshield carries the name and logo of the auto maker, a license that the latter grants to the OEM auto glass manufacturer after a bidding process.

Aftermarket glass explained

Aftermarket auto glass is essentially a reverse-engineered version of OEM glass. From its construction right down to its overall look, aftermarket auto glass is somehow similar to the original glass. Unlike OEM auto glass, however, aftermarket glass manufacturers cannot stamp the automaker’s brand on their finished product.

The curious thing about aftermarket glass is that practically every auto glass manufacturer—even OEM auto glass makers—fabricates them. It’s also common for auto glass makers who failed in their bid to become an OEM auto glass manufacturer to turn to producing aftermarket glass, also commonly referred to as Original Equipment Equivalent or OEE auto glass.

OEM Windshields: Pros and Cons

As licensed manufacturers of auto glass stamped with a car maker’s brand, OEM windshield makers typically meet the standards for quality that the auto manufacturer has set for their vehicles.

Since OEM auto glass is virtually identical to the original windshield you’re replacing, your car is bound to get a replacement windshield with the exact same finish, level of safety, and fit.

One thing that could make car owners turn away from OEM windshields is the fact that they come with a higher price tag compared to aftermarket windshields. And if you’re using car insurance to replace your cracked or broken windshield, there’s a possibility that it won’t fully cover the cost of an OEM windshield.

Another disadvantage of using OEM auto glass is the limited availability of stock for older cars or specific newer models. In some cases, it really won’t be easy to get an OEM replacement windshield for your car’s make or model.

Pros and Cons of Aftermarket Windshields

One of the biggest advantages of getting aftermarket auto glass is its less expensive price. In fact, it’s likely to be the primary reason why many car owners go for them instead of the pricier OEM auto glass.

Compared to OEM auto glass, aftermarket auto glass typically has a higher availability rate. The reason for this is that there are more auto glass manufacturers who lost in their bids for OEM licensing than those who actually got the nod of auto makers. With more companies producing aftermarket auto glass, it follows that there is more of it in the market, and in a wider variety of makes and models of vehicles at that.

Insurance companies are also more likely to cover the cost of aftermarket windshields than OEM ones.

The single biggest disadvantage of aftermarket auto glass is the fact that it hasn’t met the standards for quality set forth by auto makers for their vehicles. Although aftermarket auto glass does meet or exceed the Department of Transportation’s minimum safety standards, the absence of a stamp of approval from the original car manufacturer is a primary reason some car owners don’t opt for it.

Ultimately, the decision to go for OEM auto glass or an aftermarket one rests solely on your shoulders. So weigh the pros and cons carefully, and consider your personal preferences before making your final choice. Whatever your decision, always remember to get your new windshield installed only by professionals.


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