What’s the difference between my windshield and the other glass in my car?

Safety glass is manufactured to reduce the likelihood of injury if it breaks and is used in all automobile glass. Windshields, specifically, are made from a lamination process. The windshield glass in your car is made of laminated glass, which is designed to offer the highest levels of safety in the event of a crash. Laminated glass is generally made up of two pieces of glass, with a thin layer of vinyl between them. The three pieces are fused together by applying heat and pressure in a special oven called an autoclave. When a small object strikes a piece of safety glass, typically only the outer layer of the windshield breaks. 

Rear view of young man holding wheel and looking through the windshield and driving

What Happens when my Windshield is Damaged?

In severe impact situations, the glass “shatters” but usually does not come apart because the broken pieces of glass generally adhere to the vinyl inner lining. Side and rear windows are made of tempered glass, which is created by heating the glass to more than 1,100°F and then rapidly cooling it. This “tempering” process makes the glass much stronger than un-tempered glass of the same thickness. If broken, tempered glass is designed to disintegrate into small pieces of glass about the size of rock salt. There should be no large, jagged pieces of glass to injure the driver or passengers.

When it comes to windshield replacement, which should you choose: an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) windshield or an aftermarket windshield? The choice can be a difficult one, mainly because not many people understand the difference between these two types of glass.

OEM Windshields

OEM Windshields are identical to the windshield that was installed when your vehicle was manufactured. They are typically made by the same company that manufactured your original windshield and will match the original windshields color, thickness, fit and shape. This means that it will fit right and ensures that other options connected to the windshield work correctly. Prices for OEM glass can run 40% to 60% higher than comparable aftermarket windshields. Some insurance companies will not pay for OEM glass due to the higher cost while other insurance companies will only pay for OEM glass if the vehicle is no more than one to two model years old.

Aftermarket Windshields

Aftermarket Windshields, on the other hand, are manufactured by glass companies that do not have OEM relationships with the car makers. They create copies of the original windshields without consultation from the original windshield or vehicle manufacturers. Thanks to copyright laws, the makers of aftermarket windshields are not allowed to create a replica of the original windshield that was in your car. While the fit and shape will be the same, the new windshield may vary in thickness, durability or tint color and UV protection. In some cases, options attached to the windshield may not function properly. Typically, aftermarket windshields are the least expensive options available.

The specific type of replacement that is best for you will depend heavily on your personal preferences and your budget. If you’re still unsure about your windshield repair needs, give us a call at (305) 908-5545 and we’ll walk you through the process!