Consumers looking for a high-quality windshield replacement should understand the major differences between the various types of auto glass available to them. Common options include original equipment manufacturer (OEM) distributor glass, dealer glass, and aftermarket glass. Which is the best for your windshield replacement?
If you purchase a replacement from a manufacturer-authorized dealer, you will get the same brand as your original windshield. But if you purchase your window from an auto glass shop, you will get it from a reliable OEM distributor who manufactures windows to the same exact specifications. These windows are the same shape, size, thickness, durability and color as original specifications. They are practically identical to the dealer versions and are also DOT-certified, meaning they are approved by the Department of Transportation.
Since this windshield was not manufactured by the original company, it is not exactly the same as what the dealer had on the car when it was manufactured, but it is comparable. The similarity is enough that if you were to return a leased automobile with an OEM replacement, the dealer would accept it.
Glass that you buy from a manufacturer-authorized car dealership is sourced from the exact same distributor that originally created your window. In this case, it will oftentimes have the car’s make stamped directly on it. If you absolutely must have the brand logo on your replacement window, you will have to go to a dealer to get it.
It is very common for automobile companies to change the supplier that they purchase their windshields from. It is a highly competitive business, so as contracts expire, the work may go out to bid. The bidding process is very competitive since these contracts are lucrative. This can result in a different company producing windshields from year to year for the same auto manufacturer.
Aftermarket glass is manufactured by businesses that don’t contract with any automobile manufacturers in particular. Because of copyright and licensing laws, these businesses are not allowed to produce windows for vehicles to the same specifications as OEM distributors. While aftermarket windshields are considerably less expensive than dealer or OEM products, having them installed can sometimes cause issues for the car owner, as some aftermarket products do not meet manufacturer and/or dealer requirements.
In addition, aftermarket glass is typically a different thickness than its counterparts. The vast majority of dealers will not allow you to bring back a leased automobile that has undergone aftermarket windshield replacement because the quality varies so much from the initial design; they don’t go through the same processes or meet the same requirements that OEM products do.
Of course, not all windshield damage requires a full replacement; any reputable automotive repair shop that handles glass repair or replacement can tell you if chips or cracks can be repaired. If a replacement is needed, consumers have a variety of windshield companies available to them, each offering services ranging from mobile installations to repair. In order to avoid leaks, outside noise or other potential problems that come with aftermarket products, be sure your window is being replaced only with OEM- or dealer-quality glass.