Why Does a Windshield Cost What it Does?


A question we often receive is “How much does it cost to replace a windshield?” Unfortunately,  there isn’t a clear answer because there are many variables that will affect the cost of a windshield. The easy answer is “about $300” which is the average cost that consumers pay to have their windshield replaced. The real answer is that it can vary anywhere from under $200 all the way up to over $1200. Some buses or specialty cars can even cost more than $2,000.

range rover windshield

Why the Wide Range of Windshield Costs?

The main reason for cost differences is quality, features, and availability. For example, a 1999 Honda Civic windshield will cost much less than a 2018 Mercedes Benz S560. Why? Because the Honda Civic is a basic, small, vehicle with few (if any) windshield related features and parts are abundant. The Mercedes, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated.

Windshield Features

Windshields are actually tied to many of the add-on options that today’s vehicles can have. These can include:

  • Heated wiper park
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Lane departure warning
  • Automatic braking
  • Special solar coatings
  • Auto dimming headlamps
  • Specialized logos
  • Frit/shade screen
  • Bullet resistance
  • Electrochromic rear view mirror
  • Acoustical interlayer
  • And more…

mercedes windshield headlights

All of these additional features add additional manufacturing processes, which ultimately add additional cost. So despite the common belief that “glass is just glass”, although this may have held some truth in the past, it’s just no longer the case with today’s technologically advanced vehicles.

Windshield Quality

There are 2 quality options to choose from when having your windshield replaced:

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Quality:

OEM products meet or exceed the quality requirements set forth by vehicle manufacturers. This means that the replacement windshield being installed in your car will be just as good, if not better than the one that your car originally came with from the factory. With OEM parts you can rest assured that it should be a safe windshield that integrates smoothly with your car’s current options and provides all the same features.

Aftermarket Quality:

Aftermarket windshields may or may not meet the quality considerations set forth by OE manufacturers. This is not to say that there is no quality control in place- all legal windshields installed in the USA must meet minimum Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. Windshields must receive a rating of AS1 by the DOT which approves them safe for use. So although they might not be the same quality, they technically meet these standards.

Because of the possible quality discrepancy, however, some vehicle owners have reported incompatibility issues when it comes to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)- features like lane departure warning, automatic braking, and other autonomous features. Aftermarket windshields are generally cheaper than OE windshields, so it can be a way to save money if pursestrings are tight when an unexpected windshield replacement is needed. Just realize that it comes with its own cost.

Windshield Manufacturing Costs

Pricing fluctuations affect all major industries and auto glass is not excluded. So it’s good to keep in mind that other than vehicle options, there are other factors that determine the cost you’ll pay when it comes time to replace your vehicle’s windshield, sidelites, backlite, quarter, or vent glass.

Let’s start with the glass itself- glass prices can fluctuate for numerous reasons. Starting with the manufacturing process, this can be caused by:

  1. Labor prices (many trade industries are facing labor shortages)
  2. Machinery costs (for the actual manufacturing of the glass itself)
  3. Real estate costs (buildings and warehouses)
  4. Transportation costs – gas, oil, etc.

Installation Costs

These factors will ultimately change what the manufacturer charges to the glass shop and the glass shop’s profit margin on parts. From here, the glass shop can actually be affected by all the same factors, which can lead to a second layer of price adjustments on their end to compensate for operating and labor costs. The end result is price adjustments to you, the customer.

Person holding car keys

Getting Your Glass Replaced

No matter what the cost of having your glass replaced, make sure you have it done as soon as possible and by a reputable glass replacement shop. Your vehicle’s windshield is an integral part of its safety systems and provides structural integrity, especially in the event of a rollover accident. Not having the glass replaced when it needs it can compromise this strength. And trying to save dollars by having the glass replaced by a shady shop has been known to lead to windshields popping out of vehicles during accidents- severely impacting passenger retention.

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