When it comes time to replace a cracked or chipped windshield, you will likely be given the choice between OEM windshields and aftermarket windshields. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the differences between OEM and aftermarket windshields, with some believing there is a substantial difference while others think the difference is non-existent.
Let’s take a closer look at each type of windshield and see where the truth lies.
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) windshields refer to the original auto glass used in a new vehicle. Auto manufacturers don’t make their own auto glass, instead they subcontract this out to various auto glass manufacturers.
In most instances, this is done through a bidding process, with the winning auto glass company getting the right to manufacture auto glass for the vehicles. When making the auto glass, the company manufactures it to the exact specifications provided by the auto manufacturer, ensuring windshields and side windows fit the vehicle perfectly.
Once the glass has been made, it’s shipped out to the auto manufacturer, who then installs it into their brand-new line of vehicles. The company that made the glass gets to stamp their name and logo on the glass, but they are often short-term contracts, meaning a new manufacturer may end up making the same glass further down the line.
So, by the time you are driving a new car and come across windshield problems, there is a good chance the OEM windshield is made from an entirely different company yet it’s the exact same glass down to the precise measurements.
Aftermarket windshields are different from OEM windshields in that they are made from a different auto glass manufacturer, typically from a company that hasn’t won a particular subcontract from your auto maker.
Because it’s not part of a contract, aftermarket windshields aren’t made to the exact measurements as OEM because they don’t have access to this information. However, virtually all aftermarket windshields are reversed engineered, meaning the company making the glass meticulously researches the precise measurements to ensure it fits safely in the car.
Once produced, aftermarket auto glass is suitable for replacing OEM windshields, often costing less while being almost exactly the same in every way. In fact, because aftermarket glass must meet government standards, auto glass companies spend a great deal of money ensuring the glass is as close to the real thing as it can get.
While minimal, there are some differences between OEM and aftermarket windshields.
For instance, due to copyright laws, it’s impossible for the aftermarket glass to be completely identical to OEM. Therefore, there must be some differences, which is usually in the thickness of the glass or the color.
Obviously, aftermarket windshields need to fit properly otherwise they wouldn’t be safe to install, so size dimensions always remain the same, it’s either just the thickness or color that differs.
Perhaps the biggest difference between OEM and aftermarket windshields is the price.
Many insurance companies only provide aftermarket windshield replacements due to the cheaper cost. So, unless you are very particular about minor differences, in most instances you should be fine with an aftermarket windshield replacement, which will cost you much less and look almost identical to the original.