Not all glass is created equally and replacement glass for auto windshields clearly demonstrates this. If your car has a large crack in its windshield that you need to replace, you have options. There is OEM glass: that is your windshield will be replaced with an identical windshield made by the car manufacturer. And then there is aftermarket glass. There are two kinds of aftermarket glass. The first is OEE which is the acronym for original equipment equivalent, and the second kind is a more generic type of windshield that can be used in several kinds and styles of cars.

OEM Auto Glass

When a car design is finalized and ready to go into production, automakers ask for bids from auto glass manufacturers. The lowest bidder is given the contract to make the windshield and is licensed to stamp the glass with the automakers’ name and logo – this is done to let consumers know they have original equipment manufactured auto glass. They are the only company that makes glass to the exact specifications of the auto manufacturer. Nevertheless, nearly every auto glass maker also makes aftermarket windshields, even if they are the OEM for stamped glass.

Car manufacturers, looking to help their dealerships make more profit, restrict the manufacturing of OEM windshields and sells them in their parts department to consumers and to auto glass repair and replacement shops.

Original Equipment Equivalent Aftermarket Glass

As mentioned earlier, OEE windshields are made by the OEM as well as other reputable auto glass manufacturers who may or may not have bid on a particular model. To make aftermarket OEE windshields, glass makers reverse engineer those windshields they lost bids on. Reverse engineering costs glass makers millions of dollars in research and development. They use the same raw material suppliers used to make OEM windshields and use the same expert designers and engineers that are involved in making OEM glass.

Auto glass is subject to government regulation and standards, making the difference between OEM and OEE windshields minimal. In fact, sometimes the only way to determine which type of glass used is to see if it is imprinted with the automaker’s name and logo.

Technology Considerations in Auto Windshield Glass

There was a time when windshields only served to protect cabin passengers from the weather and were nothing more than glass with specifications such as thickness and curvature. Now, windshields feature a lot of technology. Auto-dimming headlights, forward collision warning, heating elements for defrosting and deicing, and more are found in today’s high-tech cars. To make sure that all these things work correctly, automakers urge consumers who need a replacement windshield make sure it is an OEM replacement.

“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.

Will Insurance Pay for OEM Windshields?

In most auto insurance policies they have something like the following:

This policy provides for “like kind and quality replacement part” that includes glass. This means that OEE windshields may be used instead of OEM windshields. But, if your car is less than two years old and needs a windshield replacement, OEM may be authorized by your insurance company.

Even if your insurance won’t pay for an OEM replacement, you can have it done anyway. You will be responsible for the difference in cost between OEE and OEM windshields.

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