When customers are told about OEM and OEE (After Market) glass, they tend to get confused about the differences, and rightfully so. There is a lot of minute differences with how they’re made, their legal restrictions, their pricing, and much more.
What exactly is OEM glass?
OEM glass, or Original Equipment Manufactured glass, is auto glass that is made by a company who officially provides windshields and other parts for automobile companies like Toyota or Kia. These companies are the official providers of auto glass for car companies manufacturing or designing cars and official dealers. When you buy a car off the lot, say from Toyota, the glass is going to be made by Pilkington or another OEM company. It will have the Toyota logo stamped on the glass in addition to the glass company.
What is OEE or after-market glass then?
Aftermarket glass, sometimes referred to as Original Equipment Equivalent glass (OEE), is basically the store brand version of glass. It’s made by companies unaffiliated with car companies. This glass is typically cheaper and of lesser quality depending on your car and the glass company. Sometimes it may even be visibly different than OEM glass in terms of tint and thickness. These traits aren’t necessarily bad, but it really all depends on the driver, the car, and the glass manufacturers. The reason after-market glass is so different is that it is actually illegal for OEE manufacturers to make perfect replications of OEM glass due to patent laws.
What’s the difference?
The main difference between OEM and OEE glass is quality and price. Yes, they are both windshields and yes, they both will work to protect you from bugs, winds, and rains. However, very similar to off-brand food, there is a definite difference in production and price. While OEM glass is made from top quality sand on top of the line equipment with specific regulations, OEE glass can be made with low tier ingredients on less than parr machines with loose, if any, regulations.
OEM glass will be an exact copy of the windshield that came on your vehicle when it was bought off the lot. It will fit and look exactly the same and be up to certain (non-mandatory) regulations including thickness and structural integrity. Aftermarket/OEE glass might not. It is often thinner and tinted differently possibly resulting in more glare, chips, and breaks. And because regulations are not enforced by any government agency, they don’t have to be as thick or as tough. So why do people and installers sometimes opt for the lesser product? Simple: Price. OEM glass, being a perfect recreation of the dealer glass, is often $100-$300 more than OEE or after-market glass.
This might all seem a little overwhelming and I understand. This part of the auto glass industry can get tricky with its technicalities. But fear not! I’ll explain which glass is the best choice for each situation. I will also try to compare it to something we are all familiar with so you or your friends can better grasp the basic differences. If you still are lost after this and need to know right now, any auto shop should be happy to try and help you understand. Stay patient! Like I said this might get bumpy.
Author: B. Delamater