Windshields (a.k.a. windscreens) are an essential part of any and all vehicles. When damaged, they are both an eyesore and make operation of that vehicle unsafe. Windshields are fully replaceable; however, there are several different windshield manufacturers from which one can choose. In addition to there being different manufacturers, they all make different types of windscreens for the same vehicle. These are known as OEM, dealer and aftermarket windshields.
Major OEM windshield makers/brands are Saint-Gobain Sekurit (SGS), Carlite, Pilkington, PPG, Mopar, and AP Tech.
Safelite and Guardian are widely-used American Third Party Aftermarket makes. Heshan Zhengda, Dongguan Brightpower and Shiyan Huachao are the notable Chinese makers of Third Party Aftermarket windshields. A word of caution, though: they make Third Party Aftermarket windshields as far as Europeans and Americans are concerned; in China and other Far-Eastern countries they are OEM!
Yet another word of caution is called for: sometimes Chinese-made glass is simply stamped with an American company’s name so it passes off as an American product. This is not a Chinese ‘imitation’ or forged item, but actually made per order placed by an American company! (An OEM vendor cannot engage in such practices for fear of losing its contracts and approved vendor status.)
OEM windshields are those that placed in a vehicle upon manufacture. These Original Equipment Manufacturer windshields are produced by a manufacturer for a specific model of that vehicle and these manufacturers may change from year to year, as the car makers seek to minimize costs. A Same-OEM windshield will have all the attachments and moldings that the original windshield did because it is the identical product; it will have the exact same part number. This is why OEM Windshields are easily replaced with another such windshield from the same manufacturer. A Same-OEM windshield will, obviously, meet the same governmental and auto-maker standards as your original windshield.
Companies Providing OEM Windshields
There are several well-known companies producing OEM windshields, companies such as AP Tech, Pilkington and PPG. These companies have long been trusted by the major automotive brands to supply their windshields. An individual seeking a replacement OEM windshield can acquire one directly from their brand’s supplier.
Dealer windshields are essentially the same as OEM with one difference; the dealer symbol is emblazoned on the windshield. Thus, if the person were to go to a Honda dealer for their windshield, it would come with Honda written in a bottom corner. This is the true for all dealer windshields.
Companies Providing Dealer Windshields
The same companies providing OEM windshields provide dealer windshields. These companies can be AP Tech, Pikington or PPG, the top three manufacturers. Here, the manufacturer simply adds the dealer brand to a corner of the windshield.
Aftermarket windshields are purchased through a company not affiliated with the dealer and who does not carry OEM windshields. For example, the Safelite company is an aftermarket windshield carrier. These windshields are affordable, as they tend to be no frills. Thus, an aftermarket windshield will no longer have the dealer emblem on the glass, and they may not be manufactured to the same standards as OEM/Dealer windshields.
Companies Providing Aftermarket Windshields
There are several companies who provide aftermarket windshields; these include SafeLite, Alibaba, and the like. These companies produce their own windshields and they cut these to fit the vehicle for which they were ordered.
Which Windshield to Choose?
Given the three main choices a person has to choose from, it can become frustrating to find the perfect choice for the vehicle. In order to make this decision, the car owner should consider the following:
- Quality: aftermarket windscreens are not held to the same standards as dealer or OEM.
- Safety: OEM and dealer glass is made to fit a vehicle perfectly. These windscreens are designed to ensure a snug fit and are safer. The OEM will pass all regulations set into place by government.
- Price: aftermarket windscreens are usually far less expensive than the other two options.
Automotive professionals will often suggest going with OEM or dealer windshield replacement, regardless of the cost, out of the heightened safety that they offer.