Windshield Replacement: OEM Vs. Aftermarket Glass: Which Is Right For You?

July 24, 2023

Navigating the waters of windshield replacement can be daunting, as the many choices available can confuse even the savviest consumers.

One of the significant decisions that must be made involves choosing between OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and aftermarket glass. This choice is critical to the vehicle’s safety, durability, and aesthetics.

Many drivers are discovering the value of companies like Discount Auto Glass, which strike an impressive balance between cost-effectiveness and quality. These companies show that saving money is possible without compromising the high quality and safety standards crucial for something as significant as a vehicle’s windshield.

Understanding these options is the key to making an informed decision. Hence, this article discusses OEM and aftermarket glass, highlighting their advantages, differences, and considerations to help guide those needing a windshield replacement.

Understanding OEM Glass

OEM glass is made by the same companies that produce the original windshields for vehicle manufacturers. These glasses are designed to fit and function exactly like the original windshield installed in your vehicle. They have the same specs, dimensions, durability, and color.

You’ll find that OEM glass offers superior quality in fit and finish. It’s because it’s designed to match the exact specifications of your vehicle. As such, it fits perfectly, reducing the chances of leaks or wind noise after installation.

Benefits of OEM Glass

Apart from the perfect fit, OEM glass’s safety is another significant advantage. It’s built to the same stringent safety standards as the original windshield. It ensures that it performs optimally in an accident, protecting the vehicle’s occupants.

Additionally, OEM glass often comes with special features specific to your vehicle, such as rain sensors, heads-up displays, or defogging capabilities. If your original windshield had these features, replacing it with OEM glass guarantees you won’t lose them.

Understanding Aftermarket Glass

On the other hand, aftermarket glass is made by companies different from those that manufacture for vehicle brands. While these companies aim to match the specifications of the original windshields, differences in the manufacturing process and equipment may result in slight discrepancies.

Aftermarket glass is usually cheaper, making it an attractive option for those working with a budget. However, this affordability could come at the cost of fit, finish, and durability. Some aftermarket glasses may not fit perfectly, leading to issues like wind noise or leaks.

Benefits of Aftermarket Glass

Despite these potential downsides, aftermarket glass has its advantages. As mentioned, it’s typically cheaper than OEM glass, making it an attractive option if you pay out of pocket for the replacement.

Moreover, aftermarket manufacturers often offer a wider variety of glass types and tints than OEMs. It can give you more options to customize your vehicle’s appearance.

Quality Differences Between OEM and Aftermarket Glass

While both OEM and aftermarket glass serve the same primary function – to protect you from outside elements while driving – they can differ significantly in quality. The higher price point of OEM glass reflects the rigorous standards it must meet.

Vehicle manufacturers impose these strict standards to ensure the highest safety and durability levels. Consequently, OEM glass tends to be thicker, offering better resistance to impacts and harsh weather conditions.

In contrast, aftermarket glass manufacturers are free of these stringent guidelines, often leading to variations in thickness and durability. While many aftermarket providers offer high-quality products, the lack of standardization means quality can vary considerably from one manufacturer to another.

Therefore, you should research different aftermarket brands to ensure you get a product that doesn’t compromise safety and durability.

Compatibility and Fit: OEM and Aftermarket Glass

One of the standout advantages of OEM glass is its unparalleled compatibility with your vehicle. Produced by the same manufacturer who made the original windshield, OEM replacements are designed to be an exact match.

This precision is not just about dimensions; it also extends to the curvature of the glass, the placement of brackets for attachments, and other vehicle-specific features. Hence, the result is a seamless fit, ensuring optimal visibility and reducing the risk of future issues.

While designed to fit various models, aftermarket windshields might not achieve this perfect fit. Even minute differences can lead to issues like water leaks, wind whistles, or even detachment during an accident. Therefore, if you opt for aftermarket glass, it’s crucial to ensure professionals install it to minimize these potential risks.

Longevity and Warranty: OEM Vs. Aftermarket Glass

OEM glass typically offers a longer lifespan due to its superior quality and perfect fit. As such, these windshields are less likely to experience issues over time.

Additionally, OEM products usually have a warranty covering defects and installation. This warranty, backed by the reputation of vehicle manufacturers, provides an additional layer of assurance.

When it comes to aftermarket glass, the longevity can vary significantly. Some aftermarket windshields might hold up just as well as their OEM counterparts, while others might show signs of wear and tear much sooner.

Warranties for these products also vary widely. Some manufacturers offer generous warranties, while others offer limited or no coverage. Therefore, inquiring about warranty details is essential before deciding on aftermarket glass.

Cost Implications: OEM and Aftermarket Glass

It’s undeniable that one of the primary reasons many car owners lean towards aftermarket glass is its cost-effectiveness. Being cheaper than OEM windshields, it provides a viable option for those working with a limited budget or those whose insurance doesn’t cover windshield replacement.

However, it’s crucial to remember that the upfront cost is just one part of the equation. The potential issues related to improper fit decreased durability, and inadequate warranties can lead to higher costs in the long run.

On the other hand, while OEM glass might be pricier initially, it can provide more value over time due to its superior quality and typically extensive warranty.

Safety Considerations: OEM Vs. Aftermarket Glass

Safety is the paramount concern when replacing your vehicle’s windshield. The windshield isn’t merely a barrier against wind and bugs; it’s a crucial component of your vehicle’s structural integrity. A high-quality windshield can prevent the roof from collapsing and ejecting passengers in a collision or rollover.

OEM glass is designed to meet the exact safety standards of your original windshield. It undergoes extensive testing to ensure optimal performance during an accident. Its precise fit also contributes to its safety, minimizing risks of detachment during impacts.

While many aftermarket manufacturers strive to meet high safety standards, the need for standardization can be concerning. However, aftermarket brands are recognized for their high safety ratings, so you must do your homework when choosing aftermarket glasses.

Considering Resale Value: OEM Vs. Aftermarket Glass

One often overlooked factor when choosing between OEM and aftermarket windshields is the potential impact on your vehicle’s resale value. If you plan to sell your car, this consideration becomes crucial.

Most buyers, and especially dealers, prefer vehicles with OEM parts. They associate OEM parts with quality and reliability, which can help maintain the vehicle’s value. A car with an OEM windshield might fetch a higher price than one with aftermarket glass.

Aftermarket windshields, while cost-effective, could decrease your car’s value. This decrease might be insignificant, but it’s worth considering, especially if the car is a high-end or newer model.

Therefore, if you’re considering selling your car, it might be worth investing in OEM glass. However, if you plan to keep your vehicle for an extended period, choosing a high-quality aftermarket windshield could be a smart, cost-effective solution.

The Role of Professional Installation

Regardless of the type of glass you select, professional installation is non-negotiable. Even the best quality windshield won’t serve its purpose if improperly installed.

A professional installer will ensure a perfect fit and take care of critical factors like using the right adhesive and allowing it to cure properly. It’s essential as an inadequately bonded windshield can pop out during an accident, compromising the vehicle’s structural integrity.

For aftermarket glass, skilled installation becomes even more critical to counter potential fit issues. Therefore, choosing a reputable installation service is essential, even if it costs a bit more.

How to Make the Right Decision

Making the right decision when choosing between OEM and aftermarket windshields is all about balancing your needs and resources. Here are a few questions to guide you in your decision-making process:

  • What does your insurance cover?
  • How much are you willing to spend out-of-pocket if necessary?
  • Does your vehicle have special features that require OEM glass?
  • Have you found a reliable installer who specializes in aftermarket glass?
  • Have you considered the long-term implications, such as potential fit issues or resale value?

Answering these questions will help you decide the best route to take. Whether you choose OEM or aftermarket glass, the priority should always be safety and quality.

Understanding Your Insurance Policy

Your auto insurance policy plays a significant role in the OEM vs. aftermarket debate. Some policies cover only OEM glass, while others include aftermarket glass. Some might also allow OEM replacements for newer vehicles and aftermarket glass for older models. It’s advisable to consult your insurance provider to understand your coverage before deciding.


Windshield replacement doesn’t have to be a headache. By understanding the differences between OEM and aftermarket glass, you can make an informed decision that suits your needs and budget. Remember, safety should be paramount in your decision-making process. An adequately installed, high-quality windshield protects you and your vehicle’s occupants.