When you need a windshield replacement, you always have options—OEM or aftermarket glass. If you look just at the price tag, it may seem like an easy choice because aftermarket glass is typically less expensive. But, sometimes, cost savings come at the cost of safety. Before you choose your replacement auto glass, you need to know how to carefully evaluate your alternatives.
OEM Auto Glass
OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. When you get OEM glass, you get auto glass that is fabricated and cut to the exact same specifications as your original windshield.
OEM parts, including auto glass, must meet rigorous safety standards to meet specifications outlined by automakers and regulatory agencies. In addition to providing a defined level of impact resistance and structural stability, OEM glass is also designed to enable and/or enhance the performance of other vehicle capabilities, such as sensors, cameras and sound systems.
Aftermarket Auto Glass
Aftermarket auto glass is glass produced to different standards than those required for OEM glass. Because standards are more relaxed, aftermarket glass typically costs less to produce, so it’s cheaper for windshield replacements.
Sometimes—but not always—the difference in production standards can introduce a compromise in quality and safety. Aftermarket auto glass may be thinner, may have a slightly different curvature or be cut to a slightly different size. Especially if the installer uses substandard adhesives and/or does not allow adequate curing time, these differences can affect the glass’ ability to resist impact from debris outside or airbags deployed inside or support the vehicle’s structure (especially in a rollover).
The Best Auto Glass Choice for Your Vehicle
Some manufacturers produce both OEM and aftermarket glass, and the products are nearly identical. Then, again, some aftermarket glass is clearly substandard. So, when is it safe to choose aftermarket instead of OEM glass?
While there are no hard and fast rules to guide your auto glass selection, here are some factors to keep in mind:
- Your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Some automakers strongly recommend OEM glass, especially in vehicles with high-tech infotainment systems that use sensors, cameras and/or were designed to provide outside noise dampening.
- Your driving habits. You must keep in mind the integral role your windshield plays in crash safety. If you have a daily commute that increases your risks for collisions, like high mileage trips, interstate driving or areas under construction, OEM glass may be the better option because it has been rigorously safety tested.
- Your insurance coverage. Your insurance provider may only cover the cost of aftermarket glass used in a replacement. If your budget cannot handle any out-of-pocket expense, then aftermarket may be your only alternative.
What will make the choice easier is taking your vehicle to a glass shop that only uses top-quality glass, whether it’s OEM or not. Astro Auto Glass insists on the best auto glass for our customers. But if you still have questions about OEM vs. aftermarket, then talk to one of our experienced technicians. We can help you understand which option will provide the best safety and cost-effective solution.