OE, OEM, and Aftermarket Windshields: What’s the Difference?

If you need your windshield replaced, you’ll discover you have several options: OE, OEM, and aftermarket. Which one would be the best choice for your vehicle? Here’s a breakdown of how each type of glass is classified and how they differ:

OE, OEM, or Aftermarket?

OE stands for “original equipment,” and includes the windshield your car was fitted with when it was made at the factory. Although OE windshields are produced by a separate, specialized company, they’re branded as the manufacturer’s own. So for example, an OE windshield that’s used in a BMW will have official BMW packaging and part numbers even though it’s actually made by another manufacturer. Auto manufacturers bid out contracts for auto glass yearly, so the company that made the OE glass in your make and model in 2004 may not be the same manufacturer used in the same make and model in 2007 – instead, the 2004 company many now be selling OEM auto glass.

Smashed Windscreen

An OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is a company that manufactures auto glass to be the same specifications (size, shape, color, thickness, and durability) as the OE glass, however, it’s not necessarily from the same distributor that supplied the glass for assembly in the factory. There may be some slight variations in OEM glass, but it’s nearly identical to OE and typically less expensive. Some OEMs will sell parts directly to consumers under their own brand name but unless these parts are supplied directly from the automaker, they can’t be classified or marketed as OE.

Aftermarket is a term that’s used widely for any alternative replacement part not fitted in the factory or produced by an OEM. These replacement parts and performance upgrades are not endorsed or branded by manufacturers, either. The quality of aftermarket parts can vary greatly; some may be lower quality while others may be comparable to an OE/OEM part. Regardless of the quality, aftermarket parts are typically less expensive than OEM parts.

OEM: A Good Balance Between Cost & Quality

The majority of windshield replacements we perform are with OEM windshields, as these provide a good balance between high-quality and cost-effectiveness. Although some claim that aftermarket glass is 100% equivalent to OEM, there are some differences. Non-OEM parts and components must be made slightly different than OE or OEM parts to avoid copyright infringement, so although they may look the same at first glance there may be slight variations in the way the windshield fits or its finish. An aftermarket windshield may not work properly with ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), either which could impact your vehicle’s safety features. Aftermarket glass parts also aren’t typically accepted by new car manufacturers for warranty claims and in many cases, they violate the repair requirements of leasing contracts.

Ultimately, the type of glass you choose will likely come down to cost and personal preferences. Our team here at Lucky Dog Auto Glass is happy to offer recommendations to help you choose a windshield that meets your needs and budget. Contact us at 253-569-9403 for a free estimate or send us a message online.

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