But I thought you said this windshield was original equipment.
Here is a common story for a consumer. A person has a new or rented vehicle and a piece of glass is damaged. An auto glass company is called in and the consumer is told that the OEE is an original equipment equivalent replacement part for their vehicle. But when the auto glass technician shows up to complete the replacement, the piece of glass doesn’t actually have the vehicle manufacturer’s manufacturer logo on it.
OEM – Original parts installed by the vehicle manufacturer during the assembly of your vehicle.
OEE – Parts manufactured for installation in the “secondary market” by third-party companies.
What is OEM car glass? (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
When designing a new vehicle, the vehicle manufacturer can use an existing windshield part from an older vehicle model, or they can create an entirely new windshield and part number. If the decision is made to create a completely new windshield, the vehicle manufacturer contracts with a glass manufacturer to create the part. The glassmaker and vehicle manufacturer create a unique mold and unique molding / firing process to produce the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) windshield. Parts are installed when the vehicle is assembled at the vehicle manufacturer’s factory.
OEM parts are available for purchase through your local dealer or through an auto glass company. Keep in mind that OEM installations through a dealer will be priced significantly higher than choosing a third-party company for replacement. OEM parts are often more expensive than OEE. In fact, OEMs can cost up to 100% more. Although Carlite (Ford) windshields are extremely affordable!
What is OEE or OE Auto Glass? (Equivalent to original equipment)
After a new vehicle hits dealerships and is sold to consumers, third-party glassmakers will actually purchase OEM glass and reverse engineer a mold to make their own. aftermarket glass pieces. This mold is created after they digitize an outline of the part. The companies then create a firing process to bend and shape the glass. The OEE aftermarket parts are slightly different in size, have slight differences in the curvature of the glass, and the glass can be highly distorted when viewed from a side angle. All of these differences can be minimal or dramatic depending on the manufacturer. The cheaper the glass, the cheaper the manufacture.
Removal of the manufacturer’s logo
Some auto glass installation companies remove the windshield manufacturer’s logo to mislead consumers into believing they are actually OEMs. Remember to never buy glass without a manufacturer’s product label. The label is typically about 1 inch square in size and is located in the lower areas of the windshield, just above the painted black ceramic band. The manufacturer’s logo includes information on where the glass was made and has information for the Department of Transportation. Removing the logo is illegal.
What are the main differences between OEM and OEE?
1. Side view clarity – All glass that is bent during manufacturing has some distortion when viewed from a side angle. This can be described as waves or ripples. Aftermarket glass is pressed, molded, and fired during manufacture in a slightly different way than the original process established by the vehicle manufacturer. As a result of the difference in manufacturing, the aftermarket process generally creates more distortion in the glass when viewed from a side angle. Sometimes it is much more!
2. Security – Both types of glass meet all federal safety standards and are also tested at places like AMECA, Automotive Manufacturer’s Equipment Compliance Agency Inc., the original replacement equipment from vehicle manufacturers simply based on this similarity.
3. Glass thickness – The federal government actually has mandates on the thickness of a windshield. Most windshields are between 2 and 3 mm (millimeters) thick. OEE glass can have a thickness difference of 0.01mm or more. This can result in the idea that the aftermarket is cheaper. Although this is still as safe and OEM equivalent, I think it is different and may have a higher risk of cracking from debris impacts.
4. Black ceramic paint design – Both types of glass usually have the exact same paint patterns around the edges of the glass, although there are some unique OEM windshields. This black design only hides areas of view (for example, under the dash, behind the side pillars) and protects the urethane glass adhesive from the UV rays emitted by the sun. UV rays will degrade the adhesive, causing the glass to sag or loosen. One of the few differences found in paint bands can be the vehicle manufacturer or vehicle model logos embedded in the design. An example is a Ford Mustang windshield. The OEM windshield includes an image of the Mustang logo on the rear view mirror bracket on the third visor.
5. The logo of the manufacturer / vehicle manufacturer – OEM windshields have a logo that matches all other glass parts in your vehicle. This is the easiest way to see if a piece of glass has been changed before or to confirm if an auto glass company has ordered the right glass for you. The logo will have the logo of the vehicle manufacturer or the original logo of the supplier.
6. Rearview mirror holders and sensors – Aftermarket (OEE) windshields use a different process to adhere the mirror mounts to the glass. I find its bond quality and location not as accurate as OEM parts. In fact, aftermarket dealers repeatedly drip glue onto the glass under the bracket, which can stain the black ceramic band on the inside of the glass. When it comes to sensor components, like rain sensors, the problem is not that rampant. But on a BMW windshield, a mirror bracket that is not properly aligned can make it difficult to reinstall the plastic mirror cover assembly that hides the sensor and bracket.
So which windshield should I choose, OEM or OEE?
The biggest impact on your decision will be the budget. OEM parts are almost always priced higher. Most consumers simply choose OEE because they have no other choice, everyone needs to save a few bucks. However, don’t be afraid to choose aftermarket glass because safety is primarily affected by the technician installing the windshield correctly, not the glass itself. But if you really love your vehicle and expect the best quality, you should choose OEM. And if you rent your vehicle, your dealer may have restrictions on what type of glass is acceptable when returning the vehicle. You may receive an additional fee if you have aftermarket glass installed. Call your dealer for more information.