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The Pros And Cons Of Aftermarket Vs. OEM Auto Glass

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The Pros And Cons Of Aftermarket Vs. OEM Auto Glass

Description: Compare the safety and cost of OEM vs. aftermarket auto glass for your car. Make an informed decision to protect your vehicle and wallet today!

Choosing the right glass for your car is a big deal. Insurance often prefers aftermarket glass because it’s cheaper. This article will guide you through picking the safest option for your vehicle, comparing OEM and aftermarket glass.

Keep reading to learn more!

Key Takeaways

  • The original equipment manufacturer makes OEM auto glass, matching your car’s specifications perfectly, ensuring safety and compatibility with advanced features like lane-keeping assist. While it may cost more, insurance may cover it due to its perfect fit and adherence to safety standards.
  • Aftermarket windshields are typically less expensive options produced by different companies. There is no guarantee they will match the same specifications as the original glass. This could lead to issues such as distortion, thinner glass, or problems with advanced driver assistance systems.
  • Both aftermarket and OEM glass meet government safety standards for impact protection. 
  • Choosing between OEM and aftermarket glass depends on factors like your budget, car type, whether your vehicle has advanced safety features, and what your insurance will cover. For newer cars with high-tech systems, OEM glass may be necessary for everything to work correctly (according to vehicle manufacturers). For older models or in cases where cost is a major concern, aftermarket glass offers a viable alternative.
  • Most auto glass replacement companies can obtain and install OEM or aftermarket glass depending on your preference.
  • Some manufacturers require using OE (original equipment) glass for windshield replacements in vehicles equipped with certain technologies for optimal functionality of these systems.
  • When deciding on windshield replacement options, carefully consider each type’s advantages and disadvantages while working within any constraints posed by insurance coverage or budget considerations.

Understanding OEM Auto Glass

OEM auto glass stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer auto glass. This type of glass is made by the same company that supplied parts for your car when it was new. It matches the exact size and shape needed for a perfect fit in your vehicle.

Since it comes directly from the original maker, this glass meets all the safety standards required by law. These strict guidelines ensure that each piece of glass can handle impacts well and protect passengers during accidents.

This kind of window may also work better than aftermarket glass for cars that have advanced driver assistance systems, like lane-keeping help or adaptive cruise control. Since these features rely on sensors that can be affected by how light passes through glass, using OEM ensures everything functions as intended.

Although often more costly than alternatives, insurance policies may cover the expense because they help ensure compatibility with high-tech onboard systems.

The Manufacturing Process of OEM Auto Glass

The process of making OEM auto glass begins with finding the right materials. Manufacturers choose high-quality sand, soda ash, and limestone to melt together at over 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. This mixture becomes clear liquid glass that can be molded into windshields. Experts then cool it down slowly to prevent any cracks or imperfections.

Next, technicians cut the cooled glass to match specific car models perfectly. They use precise machines for this task to ensure each piece’s size and shape are exactly right. After cutting, they embed technology such as lane departure warnings or collision mitigation braking systems directly into the glass. This integration allows the windshield to work seamlessly with a car’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), improving safety and performance on the road.

Understanding Aftermarket Auto Glass

Aftermarket auto glass is produced by various suppliers for vehicles after they leave the initial manufacturing site. Unlike OEM glass made by or for car manufacturers, aftermarket versions might not be built to the same specs. Sometimes this causes a difference in fit.

Aftermarket windshields often cost less than OEM ones. However, consumers sometimes find problems such as distortion in the view through the glass or thinner materials that may affect durability. Some aftermarket options do not align well with cars’ safety features like lane-keeping assist and forward collision warning systems. Because of these items, choosing a replacement windshield involves more than looking at price tags.

Is There a Difference Between OEM and Aftermarket Glass?

The main difference lies in their manufacturing. OEM windshields are made to match the original car window that came from the factory exactly. They fit like a glove because they are made using the same specifications and materials as your first car window. This ensures everything from clarity to shape is the same as how your vehicle came from the factory.

On the other hand, aftermarket windshields may or may not hit those same marks. The difference in OEM vs aftermarket largely lies in not knowing whether or not aftermarket glass is designed to the same specs as OEM glass.  Aftermarket windows should still meet the same safety standards as OEM windshields, but may differ slightly in fit, optical clarity, or durability compared to OEM versions. 

Some drivers choose them because they cost less, especially for expensive replacements or when insurance coverage considers price. However, if your car has special features like lane-keeping assist systems or blind spot detection, an OEM windshield could be necessary to keep these systems running smoothly without glitches.

OEM vs. Aftermarket Windshields: The Great Debate

Choosing between OEM and aftermarket windshields is a big decision. Here’s a clear comparison to help you make an informed choice.




Can be obtained and installed by most windshield replacement companies



Meets Department of Transportation (DOT) Safety Standards


Yes (as long as DOT stamp is present)

Compatibility With Advanced Safety Features

Matches OEM

Possible compatibility

Insurance Coverage Options

Sometimes covered if requested

More likely to be covered at a lower cost

Out of Pocket Expense

Typically higher

Typically lower

Risk of Distortion or Thin Glass

Lower risk

Higher risk reported

Manufacturing Standards

Matches the car’s original specs

Manufacturing specifications may vary

Both options have their place, depending on your needs and budget. OEM ensures a perfect match and peace of mind for those with newer, tech-equipped cars. Aftermarket offers a budget-friendly solution, though it might not always meet the same specifications.

Why Aftermarket Windshields Can Be Just as Good as OEM

Aftermarket windshields can offer the same level of safety and quality as OEM windshields. The main difference lies in not knowing to what specifications the aftermarket windshields are made. Insurance companies may cover aftermarket glass at a lower cost compared to OEM glass, making it a more affordable option for consumers. It’s essential for consumers to make informed decisions and choose their best option when replacing auto glass, not just the cheapest one.

Advantages and Disadvantages of OEM Windshields


  • Insurance Coverage: You may be covered by insurance if you request OEM glass at the time of the claim.
  • Perfect Fit: Replacement OEM windshields help ensure a factory fit, matching the thickness and embedded technology of the original windshield.
  • Known Quality: These windshields should be made to the same specifications as the original windshield that comes with the vehicle from the factory.


  • Cost: OEM windshields are generally more expensive than aftermarket options.
  • Limited Availability: In some cases, it may be challenging to find OEM windshields for older or less common vehicle models.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Aftermarket Windshields


  • Cost Savings: Aftermarket windshields are generally more budget-friendly compared to OEM options, providing an affordable alternative for windshield replacement.
  • Availability for Older Vehicles: Aftermarket replacement glass may be the only choice for older vehicles when OEM supplies are no longer available in the market.
  • Meet the Same Safety Requirements as OEM Windshields: Both Aftermarket and OEM windshields must meet minimum government safety standards.


  • Potential Quality Variations: Aftermarket parts could match the same specifications as OEM parts, but there are no guarantees. There may be differences in thickness, clarity, fitment, and electronics compared to OEM glass.
  • Compatibility with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): For vehicles equipped with ADAS features, it is essential to ensure that aftermarket windshields support these systems effectively. Not all vehicle manufacturers recommend aftermarket glass for vehicles equipped with ADAS.
  • Fitment and Installation Differences: Aftermarket windshields might have variations in dimensions or design features compared to OEM counterparts.

Instances When Manufacturers Require OE Glass in Windshield Replacements

Some manufacturers like Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, and Nissan require original equipment (OE) glass in windshield replacements. Here are the specific requirements of each manufacturer:


Honda vehicles equipped with advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) often require OE glass in windshield replacements. This is due to the complex technology integrated into Honda’s ADAS, such as lane-keep assist and other safety features that rely on precise calibration and installation of the windshield. Using aftermarket glass in such instances can pose risks to the effectiveness of ADAS features, emphasizing the importance of choosing OE glass for Honda models with advanced safety technologies.


When it comes to windshield replacements for Mercedes-Benz, it’s essential to prioritize OE glass due to the advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) in these vehicles, according to Mercedes. Aftermarket windshields may not meet the specific requirements of Mercedes-Benz, potentially leading to compatibility issues with ADAS features. Opting for OE replacement ensures optimal visibility and sensor functionality for Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with ADAS features.


According to the manufacturer, Subaru vehicles with advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) require OE glass in windshield replacements. This is crucial for ensuring optimal visibility and sensor functionality. Particularly for Subaru models with ADAS features, OEM replacement is the recommended choice to maintain safety and performance standards.


Newer Nissan vehicles often require original equipment (OE) glass in windshield replacements. This is especially important when navigating car insurance claims and ensuring that the glass clarity and lane-keeping assist systems are not compromised. For older Nissan models, aftermarket windshields can be a cost-effective solution. 

Impact of Vehicle Type on Choosing Between OEM and Aftermarket Glass

The type of vehicle you drive can influence your decision between OEM and aftermarket glass. For newer vehicles with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), it can be crucial to consider OEM glass due to its compatibility with these safety features. For older vehicles or those without such advanced technologies, aftermarket glass may be a suitable and cost-effective option. Some luxury car manufacturers may recommend or require the use of OEM glass for specific models, so it’s essential to consult your manufacturer’s guidelines when making this decision.

How to Determine If Your Windshield is OEM or Aftermarket

To determine if your windshield is OEM or aftermarket, start by checking for the DOT number stamped on the glass. This number serves as a unique identifier and indicates that the windshield meets safety standards set by the Department of Transportation. Consulting with an auto glass professional can provide valuable insight into identifying whether your windshield is OEM or aftermarket.

Deciding Between OEM and Aftermarket Windshield Replacement: The Final Verdict

When choosing between OEM and aftermarket windshields, consider factors such as cost, vehicle type, and features. Insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs may influence your decision, so it’s essential to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option. Assess compatibility with advanced driver assistance systems to ensure optimal performance. Making an informed choice can lead to a successful windshield replacement that meets your needs.


Aftermarket and OEM auto glass each have their advantages and drawbacks. Consumers should weigh the cost, insurance coverage, and compatibility with safety features when choosing between them. Understanding the differences can help in making an informed decision during windshield replacements for vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance features.


  1. What is the difference between aftermarket and OEM auto glass? Aftermarket auto glass is made by companies other than the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and might not match your car’s exact specifications. OEM auto glass, on the other hand, is produced by the vehicle’s maker or their partners, ensuring a perfect fit based on your car’s VIN number.
  2. Can I use aftermarket windscreens for my used Pontiac? Yes, you can use aftermarket windscreens for your used Pontiac. They are often more affordable than OEM parts and can be easier to find.
  3. Why would someone choose OEM auto glass over aftermarket? Someone might choose OEM auto glass because it guarantees an exact match and optimal performance for specific vehicles, ensuring that everything from visibility to fitment is as designed by the vehicle manufacturer.
  4. Are there any risks with using aftermarket auto glass? While using aftermarket auto glass can be cost-effective, and they meet the same DOT safety standards as OEM windshields, risks may include potential issues with fitment, or ADAS compatibility.
  5. Does window tinting affect how much gasoline my car uses? Window tinting can significantly impact your vehicle’s gasoline usage by keeping your car cooler inside during sunny days. This reduces the reliance on your vehicle’s air-conditioning system, leading to lower fuel consumption.
  6. Are there any new technologies in auto glass that could improve my electric vehicle’s range? Technologies such as switchable glass and glasses embedded with solar cells are being developed to further enhance aerodynamics and even generate electricity, both promising improvements that could extend an electric vehicle’s driving range.
Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Morgan Schaafsma

Morgan Schaafsma is an author for

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