By Daniel Snow
When it comes to having a windshield replaced, what industry insiders consider common knowledge, might be utterly foreign information to the average consumer. Glass.com®has made it a mission to bridge the knowledge gap by producing high-quality, unbiased information easily accessible to anyone through its blog resource, info.glass.com.
Through years of data collected about the site’s visitors, it has been able to find the topics most import-ant to its readers. We’ve compiled the ultimate Consumer Guide to buying auto glass with the top six concerns of customers. Feel free to share this guide with your customers so they can gain answers to these frequently asked questions:
OEM vs. Aftermarket Windshields
What’s the difference between OEM and aftermarket windshields?
This is a highly-debated topic within the auto glass industry with many polarized opinions. Some even disagree over the definition of the terms “OEM” and “aftermarket.” With the disclaimer that not everyone will agree with the assessment we provide, we will do our best to give an unbiased explanation of this topic.
First, OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. If a windshield is OEM, it means that it is made by the same manufacturer that originally manufactured the windshields for the car maker—GM, Ford, Toyota, etc. It will be manufactured on the same line and to Original Equipment (OE) specifications. For example, if “Brand X” is the company manufacturing the windshield for a Ford F-150, which is installed on the assembly line, Brand X is the only brand that would be considered an Original Equipment Manufacturer. An aftermarket wind-shield refers to any windshield that was manufactured by any company other than the Original Equipment Manufacturer. So in the Ford F-150 ex-ample above, any windshield made by a company other than Brand X would be considered aftermarket.
Is OEM better than aftermarket? This is where the debate becomes heated. Technically speaking, an aftermarket windshield could be made to the exact same specifications as an OEM windshield. This is why many brands claim to be an Original Equipment Equivalent (OEE). An OEE windshield is de-signed to be an equivalent of an OEM windshield, even though it’s made by a brand other than the original equipment manufacturer. Whether it is or not is the subject of much debate.
Price plays a factor in the decision process of many consumers. Aftermarket windshields tend to be less expensive because they do not come with the same level of quality assurance as an OEM wind-shield. According to Glass.com’s research, OEM windshields tend to cost about $100 more than aftermarket windshields. This could be worth the cost for those who wish to retain factory logo markings on their wind-shield. If using insurance to file a windshield replacement claim, be sure to ask what is covered. Not all insurance policies will cover the additional cost of re-placing an OEM windshield and will only cover the aftermarket cost. Whether aftermarket or OEM, it’s important to note that all windshields approved by the Department of Transportation must meet minimum safety requirements.
Windshield Repair vs. Replacement
What is windshield repair?
What is a windshield replacement?
How do I know which one I need?
These are all common questions from those with chips and cracks in their windshield. Some people don’t know that windshield repair is an option. Others have heard that a crack running from the left edge of the windshield across to the right edge of the windshield can be filled. This is why it’s vital that consumers understand what their options are and what is best for their scenario.
First, it’s essential for people to understand why a windshield needs to be repaired or replaced. Why not just live with the crack or chip? There are three main reasons:
1. The windshield is the first line of defense when it comes to protecting the driver and passengers from road debris. If the windshield is already weakened by a chip or crack, it might not protect occupants from large, heavy objects as well. News re-ports of cement blocks, car parts, logs, and other objects crushing windshields on the highway are frequent. It even happened to two of our employees on their way to work one day.
2. The windshield allows the driver to have a clear view of the road. Any damage that ob-structs and compromises this view causes a safety hazard. This is why it’s imperative to have a damaged windshield re-paired or replaced, especially if the damage is within the driver’s direct field of view. An easy rule of thumb to remember is that if the damage is in the sweep of the driver’s side wind-shield wiper, the windshield should be replaced.
3. Not only is the windshield the first line of defense for airborne objects, but the windshield also helps provide structural integrity to the roof in the event of a rollover accident. Again, any damage that compromises the strength of the windshield could affect the windshield’s strength during this type of catastrophic event and therefore compromise a vehicle’s roof strength rating. The windshield also acts as a backstop for airbags to keep them in place once inflated in the event of an accident.
Now that you know why it’s essential to keep a windshield in top condition, how do you know whether to repair or replace it?
Windshield technicians are able to evaluate the damage and determine whether or not the damage can be repaired. If the damage is too deep, too long, extends be-tween two edges, or is in the driver’s field of view, it should be re-placed. When it doubt, always opt for a replacement.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or ADAS for short, include driver assistance features including but not limited to:
• Lane Keep Assist
• Blind Spot Monitoring
• Adaptive Cruise Control
• Automatic Braking
• Automatic Parking
• Collision Avoidance
• Driver Drowsiness Detection
• Rain Sensing Wipers
• Laser Imaging, Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)
It’s important for consumers to know that windshields play an integral role in many of these ADAS features because many of the sensors and cameras are mounted to the windshield. These cameras and sensors are calibrated to exact specifications in order to function flawlessly. Any change in their positioning or clarity could cause them to malfunction. This is why it’s imperative to ensure ADAS systems are recalibrated after a replacement.
Some vehicles are self-calibrating, while others need to be calibrated manually. It’s crucial to find out what procedure is correct for your car and be sure the process is completed.
Minimum Drive Away Time
Minimum drive-away time (MDAT) refers to the length of time a car should remain stationary, after a windshield installation, before it can be driven. It’s imperative that the urethane used to seal the windshield to the car’s body cures before the car moves. Otherwise, it’s possible for the wind-shield to shift or pop out, especially in the event of an accident.
Minimum drive-away times have become shorter in recent years due to technological developments in the urethane industry. Some minimum drive-away times are as little as 30 minutes. Weather, including temperature and humidity levels, still play a significant role in calculating minimum drive-away time, though. Windshield replacement technicians should always calculate a minimum drive-away time for each replacement that’s performed and relay this information to the consumer.
Cost is a critical factor for many consumers looking to have their windshield replaced, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. The old adage “You get what you pay for” still rings true for many products and services. As we mentioned above, a windshield is a part of a car’s safety system. Com-promising a driver’s or family’s safety with sub-industry standard practices in order to save a few dollars shouldn’t be an option.
That being said, there are a few factors that go into the cost of a windshield replacement including but not exclusive to:
• Windshield cost
• Urethane cost
• Moulding cost
• Labor cost
• Disposal fees
• COVID mitigation costs
• Other fees
The cost of the windshield part itself will play the most significant factor in the overall replacement cost. This part cost will depend on the car’s make, options, and whether the glass is made by an OEM or aftermarket supplier. Late-model vehicles and those from luxury brands tend to have higher costs. According to Glass.com’s data, total replacement costs can range anywhere between $200-$1,600, with the nationwide average being about $300.
The questions addressed above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to information about auto glass replacement. Glass.com has a wealth of information on its blog, info.glass.com, for your customers. If you can’t find the information you need there, you can also send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’re happy to answer questions.
DANIEL SNOW is the manager of Glass.com®, a full service web and information portal about all things glass. It provides information to consumers and offers referrals to quality glass service providers throughout the United States.
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