OEM vs. Aftermarket Windshield Glass: What You Need to Know


When your windshield cracks and you need a replacement, there are two types of auto glass available to you—OEM and aftermarket glass. Which of these options is best for you?

OEM Auto Glass

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. OEM auto glass is fabricated by the same manufacturer that provided the original glass the automaker placed in your vehicle. In essence, you should be getting an almost identical piece of glass as to what your vehicle came with when it rolled off the assembly line. OEM glass also has special automaker branding on it.

Aftermarket Auto Glass

Aftermarket parts are made by a company other than the original glass fabricator. Or by the same company on a different production line from the OEM manufacturer. Some of these parts are similar quality to OEM parts. Others are not. If you’re paying for your glass replacement out-of-pocket, this could be the cheaper option.

However, there is a debate in the auto glass industry as to whether aftermarket glass is of the same quality as OEM glass.

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The Debate: OEM vs. Aftermarket Windshields

Several years ago, Consumer Reports cautioned consumers not to let insurance company pressure you into using aftermarket collision repair body parts, especially safety-related parts. With your windshield supporting the structural integrity of your vehicle, particularly in a rollover situation, it is definitely a safety-related part.

The real question: Is an OEM windshield safer than an aftermarket windshield? There is no general consensus in the auto glass industry. You need to speak with educated auto glass personnel who can discuss the options available for you. They can help you make the best choice for your vehicle because, for some vehicles, an aftermarket windshield will work just fine while other vehicle manufacturers recommend only using OEM windshields.

To find a knowledgeable auto glass company, visit Glass.com and enter your ZIP code. In a few easy steps, you can have a customer service representative on the line. He or she can also conference call in your insurance representative to see what type of part your insurance coverage covers for a replacement. Never make a decision without consulting both an auto glass company representative and your insurer.

Some manufacturers require OE glass in replacements.

Honda Requires OEM Glass in Some Cases

For many years, those in the auto industry were tight-lipped regarding the safety of OEM glass versus aftermarket glass, however, the advent of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems has resulted in big shift., Many automakers are now requiring or recommending that windshields with cameras or sensors located on them be replaced with OEM glass when broken.

One prominent example is Honda.

“While non-OEM parts may look the same and fit in the same physical space on the vehicle, their use may present unforeseen circumstances causing the driver assist or other safety systems to operate abnormally or not at all,” according to a statement by Honda.

Many of Honda’s newer models feature one or more of the following systems: Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System and Road Departure Mitigation.

These systems use either a camera or a combination of a camera and radar. Replacing the windshield with anything other than OEM parts might result in errors according to Honda’s statement.

Not just windshields are affected by the new technology. Honda’s 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD requires OE side glass.

“The model listed above uses acoustic front side door glass for sound isolation on some trim levels,” according to the automaker’s statement. They claim using anything other than OE glass could diminish the effects of the acoustic glass and crease cabin noise.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz USA has also announced that it strongly recommends using OEM glass for windshield replacements.

The automaker’s position statement says, “Aftermarket glass often does not account for complex electrical components [involved in ADAS] and may interfere with your vehicle’s electronic systems, or cause these electronic systems to not function properly.”

An auto glass replacement technician recently discovered this on a Subaru vehicle.

Subaru

Subaru has joined the list of automakers that are now supporting OEM glass usage in replacements. The automaker strongly recommends this glass be used on models that are equipped with the EyeSight Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS).

The EyeSight system includes adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, as well as lane departure and sway warning. It also features lane-keep assist function, blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert.

“Always use Subaru genuine windshield glass specifically designed for EyeSight,” reads a notice placed on windshields for new models equipped with EyeSight. “If windshield glass other than glass specifically designed for EyeSight is used, the visibility of the camera can be blocked or the distortion of the glass can prevent the correct measurement of an object resulting in abnormal EyeSight operation.”

Nissan

OEM glass should be used for windshield replacements due to the complex technology now available in vehicles, particularly on the windshield, says Nissan.

Automotive glass plays an important role in vehicle safety by providing structural rigidity, ocular clarity and “integration with advanced vehicle technology,” according to Nissan’s statement.

Glass Fabricators

The companies that fabricate OEM and aftermarket glass, some who provide products to both markets, are cautious in taking a stand.

There is a wide separation between OEM and aftermarket parts, according to a Chevrolet glass engineer.

“Some are very good and some are not very good,” he said referring to aftermarket products. “OEM, to me, sets a very different standard on the parts. I cannot control the aftermarket so I cannot say whether it meets OE standards.”

Another industry veteran, Russ Corsi, who worked with PPG, a manufacturer and fabricator of auto glass, for many years, notes that OEM products typically have very strict inspection criteria and very tight tolerances.

“So you can make an aftermarket product, but it won’t necessarily meet the original-equipment specifications,” he says.

Corsi also pointed out that some large glass manufacturers make both OEM and aftermarket products, so they have more tools in the arsenal for their products to be quite similar across both markets.

Your Type of Vehicle

If you drive a higher end luxury model, it may be wise to consider OEM glass. However, if you drive an older model with less technology embedded in the glass, then aftermarket glass may work well for you.

Ensure you educate yourself by talking with an experienced technician and your insurance agent before making the decision on what type of glass to use.

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25 responses to “OEM vs. Aftermarket Windshield Glass: What You Need to Know”

  1. I just purchased new chevrolet impala and truck threw rock into my windshield with less than 1000 miles on car. I definitely want OEM REPLACEMENT! State Farm wants to pay for aftermarket, which would probably be substandard to my original windshield.

    • Most insurance companies require a purchased endorsement to replace damages parts with OEM. Sometimes they will offer LKQ, or refurbished, OEM parts, but it is not uncommon for your insurance policy to only cover aftermarket replacements, regardless of the age of your vehicle. The coverage is there, but you will likely have to pay for it. This doesn’t apply only to State Farm, either. That’s pretty much across the board, unless you can afford a policy from Lloyds of London or some other premium company.

  2. I didn’t know that I’d have to ask for an OEM windshield for my 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
    When I got to Safelite to install it they told me it was an aftermarket item.
    And that if I wanted an OEM I would have to contact my Allstate provider and they said that the only difference is it’s cheaper. And if i wanted, they would have to check to see if would be approved. So i told them to go ahead and.install it.
    I knew something was wrong, so I asked Safelite and they said the same. Than I looked it up on the Internet, from which I got a completely different answer. Saying it wasn’t as thick. Now I have my worries about the fact that my insurance doesn’t care about me and my passenger’s safety. ANY WAY it’s a money.thing.
    So now I don’t have the safe feeling anymore. About the fact that the windshield is a part of the safety features of my Jeep.
    So now.what ? HahahahHah

    • Having a similar issue with safelite. My 2015 Jeep Cherokee had a crack along the entire front of the windshield. I’ve owned it for 2 months and so of course I wanted OEM glass but was never given an option. Customer service assured me with the VIN they’d install the correct one. Again never asking if I wanted aftermarket or OEM. Called customer service got a terrible rep she treated me like I was inconveniencing her by asking questions like why wasn’t I given the option? I’m paying with warranty 25000 for this car. If I wanted a s***ty windshield I would’ve kept the cracked one. For starters I lost my Willy’s logo which is frivolous but I loved it. It seems like this windshield lets more light and sound in as well. Contacted safelite again today after I was assured someone would call me first thing yesterday. I paid out of pocket for this an am extremely p**sed.

  3. I have a scratch about a dollar’s length in my GMC Terrain.
    It looks like something was under the wiper that made the scratch.
    I only see it when driving in direct sun light so I don’t see it all the time.
    I don’t know if I should replace the windshield with an after market window?
    My insurance will only pay for after market @ $415.00 compared to OEM @ $709.00.
    I’m wondering if I should even get the windshield replaced? If it is only a scratch will
    it get worse?

    • Great question! If the scratch occurred under the driver’s side wiper blade and it affects your view of the road, then this is a safety concern which should be addressed. It is unlikely that the scratch will turn into anything worse, like a crack, but it could become more pronounced over time. The best option would be to consult with a local auto glass professional who can evaluate the damage in person.

  4. I have found you HAVE TO ASK for OEM glass with your insurer right away when you make the claim with them. My son enlightened me to this years ago. They have never refused paying for OEM with us.

  5. I am a windshield installer in Canada working for a local company. Our market it seems is getting seriously impacted by large aftermarket sellers that produce windshields that are not meeting OEM standards. I am educated that windshields are very vital to the structure and safety of the vehicle it occupies. The company I work for refuses to put “less” safe glass, or mis-fitting glass in our customers vehicles. As such, we have lost a lot of business because the cheaper manufactures that don’t meet the OEM standards have generally the most sales because they offer a discounted glass easier on the consumer’s pocket book. The company I work for takes a standard 10% on what we pay for the glass, and maybe add another 5-10% if more time is needed to repair the glass. Some cars are different and take more time to repair. Where I’m from, standard auto glass isn’t paid by insurance, but by the customer. We simply can’t compete and still keep our customers the as safe as can be. Are there any laws on glass and lamination thickness? What can we do to not sell out to the cheaper manufactures?

    • Unfortunately this is an issue that many auto glass companies are facing. I can’t speak to Canada’s laws, but here in the states we have federal regulations that require windshields to be made with laminated AS1 glass, which much pass certain impact tests and also appear stamped on the windshield (Read more about bugs here).

      Many consumers simply aren’t educated on the fact that there can be varying degrees of quality when it comes to windshields- which is especially important when it comes to newer vehicles equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance (ADAS) features. As I;m sure you know, cameras and sensors mounted to the windshields in these vehicles are extremely sensitive and if the mounting point were off or the glass were distorted, it could cause the system to malfunction. We hope that by publishing blog articles like this one, consumers will make more educated decisions and choose the safest option, not just the cheapest option.

  6. Had a cracked windshield in a Mazda CX-5 that has the lane departure cameras. Safelite put in an aftermarket windshield that had a pop bottle bottom size distortion right in front of the drivers side. The next trip they installed a second after market windshield which apparently is not close enough in specification to allow the safety cameras to be calibrated. So now they are installing a third windshield that is oem. I had no idea the first two were after market until I asked about the quality control. While sitting to get the 3rd windshield in two other customers were in for 2nd replacements due to distortions. If possible I would avoid after market glass, it has cost me a ton of time and gas.

    • Hi, I would like to know if OEM glass was covered by your insurance. I have CX-5 too and mine has a crack on the windshield. Not sure how I want to go about this as I don’t want the glass to break and damage my interiors.

  7. On March 8, 2018 I paid Safelite, 2480 30th Boulder 80301 $397.36 (including tax) to replace the rear window of my 2012 Subaru Forrester after the original window was shattered during a windstorm..

    We noticed that the window didn’t quite fit, and there is no mongram to identify the manufacturer.

    The replacement window spontaneously shattered March 24, 2018 while my wife was driving 20 mph (the speed limit) on 9th St in Boulder between Mapleton Hill and Pearl Street.

    I believe the glass is of inferior quality. Its noticeably thinner than OEM.

  8. I’m in the middle of getting my 2013 Santa Fe Sport windshield replaced. My insurance is through Nationwide and requires OEM glass. However safelite couldn’t install the glass because they said the connection for the wiper heating element was on the wrong side. Doesn’t sound kosher to me if it was OEM. After several more weeks waiting, I’ve went to Kryger Glass, a Midwest company. The’re waiting for the OEM but said they could have an aftermarket windshield tomorrow. At first I thought okay, but after finding this site and the reviews, I’ll probably just wait.

  9. Just bought a GMC CAYNON, the sales men came to my work to pick her up,he brought my truck back had a chip in windshield, I was upset they told me to call my insurance, I did,but they wanted charge me my deductible for OEM, fighting with dealership, because I received my truck back damage, they should cover ,what do I do if they refuse to pay my deductible?

    • Hi Candie,

      Thanks for the question and sorry to hear about the situation you are in. Is the chip repairable? Sometimes it can be better (and cheaper) to repair a chip rather than replace the windshield if your vehicle is still equipped with the original factory windshield. So that may be another option.
      Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always cover the entire cost of an OEM replacement. You’ll have to refer to your insurance policy documents and consult with your insurer to see if there are any other options. Hopefully you are able to work out something with the dealership.

  10. I just had my windshield replaced on my 2010 Mazda 3 hatchback.
    It seems to me the reflection from the dash against the windshield is worse than than with the original windshield. Especially noticeable in certain light conditions, causing me significant eye strain trying to see through the imposed reflection. Is this a known problem?

  11. Is Veltrio glass any good? The company I been using the last few times always installed Pilkington glass but this time around they installed Veltrio glass.

  12. All auto glass laminated or tempered must conform to ansi z26.1 standards. This standard requirement is for oem and aftermarket glass manufactures.

  13. I had the windshield in my 13’ Ford Escape crack at the rear view mirror in 2015 and I told my insurance company (Allstate) the I wanted OEM glass as a replacement. They were very accommodating as to having an OEM windshield installed. They could not have been more helpful. I always request OEM parts for my repairs. You get what you pay for.

  14. Had safelite replace the windshield in my 2016 Tundra with one made by Fuyao. Clarity is horrible when driving toward the sun and especially at night with oncoming LED headlights. There are internal stress lines or something that light up and it becomes very annoying. The dimensions are not the same either. Left to right it is narrower to the point the molding will lie flat down inside instead of the u-shape pressed in fit from before and the top of the windshield is now has a wider gap from the roof line to the top of the glass than OEM. We need legislation on this. If they are going to claim OEE, then it should meet OEM’s quality and design exactly. Close enough doesn’t cut it on things like this, especially when you consider how much you spend on the vehicle to begin with now, and how much insurance costs now.

  15. As a follow up. I ended up having Safelite install the OEM windshield and paying the extra out of pocket which was another $630. Just like the OEM windshield, the size of the window is noticeably wider with about a 1/6-1/4″ gap along the sides and very close along the top edge. This one fits exactly as the original. The other thing I noticed was that the heating element where the wiper blades reside is made different, but I won’t know how well that functions until the next snow or ice storm we get. I’ve called many insurance companies to find out, at a minimum if I can just pay the difference between the two OEE vs. OEM and you cannot nail those companies down to a concrete answer. They don’t want to pay for your safety. My truck has airbags in the pillars that push against the windshield in a wreck. It is PART OF THE AIRBAG’s OVERALL EFFECTIVENESS! That aftermarket glass was obviously thinner and there is no way it could function the same way in a wreck as the OEM glass will. I’m writing my legislatures and requesting a bill be introduced concerning OEE parts wherever the part can affect the operation of safety equipment and that the OEE must prove itself before the insurance companies are allowed to force this type of coverage. This is just wrong. On a side note, my wife’s Nissan Xterra had a spot of rust that started under the back window and was taken care of by the dealer, but they called safelite and they installed a window with the name CARLEX on it. It fits the same all the way around except it is sitting on the body along the bottom edge. After reading one of the above comments about a rear window shattering, I think this is probably why. The OEM window had a good 3/8″ gap all around. This stuff is unacceptable. You are paying for you insurance company to insure the vehicle you bought. Not to turn it into some cheaper version of itself with junk aftermarket parts. Would love to see some legislation on this.

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