The days of using hammers, mallets, and dollies are almost entirely a thing of the past. With the advancements in cars and their safety systems, everything a technician does during the repair process is integral to the overall structure of the vehicle. An improper repair can not only cause damage to the car but could be a more significant safety issue than we think. If we don’t repair a vehicle following exact OEM procedures, then certain safety technologies may no longer work. Fewer safety features on a car = more car accidents.
The most significant difference between OEM and aftermarket or OEE (Original Equipment Equivalent) glass is how they are engineered. All glass made for cars has to have specific safety requirements before it’s sold in the United States, so that’s reassuring on both ends. However, despite OEE glass looking and being built like OEM glass, they are reverse engineered are compatible with every car. If you don’t see the OEM stamp on the product, then you’re working with an aftermarket equivalent.
Some of the differences between OEM and OEE glass is due to the Advanced Driver Assistant Systems (ADAS). According to Industry Expert Bob Beranek, “the glass clarity is absolutely imperative to make sure everything works properly.” Aftermarket windshields are sometimes wavy, have different tint colors, leak noise, and more. These are minor differences that, as a technician, you may not always see right away. However, because of the way cars are made nowadays with advanced technologies, not using OEM glass in a repair may negate or interfere with the advanced safety features on the vehicle. Thus, putting your customers at a higher risk for a collision and creating a more dangerous car to drive.
For Honda’s new models, these systems include Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, and more. Subaru’s ADAS system “EyeSight” has adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic pre-collision braking, rear cross traffic alert, and more. Even Mercedes-Benz issued a statement saying, “Aftermarket glass often does not account for complex electrical components [involved in ADAS] and may interfere with your vehicle’s electronic systems, or cause these electronic systems to not function properly.”
Despite the constant pressure auto repair shops feel from insurance companies to use the more affordable OEE option, ultimately it comes down to the exact vehicle. Older models may still be able to get away with aftermarket glass since the car won’t have the amount of (if any) advanced technologies newer models may have. Give the customer the option to pay out of pocket for the manufacturer-recommended windshield if their insurance company won’t. Knowledge is power and its up to the auto repair shop to inform the customer of all the reasons why they should always opt for OEM glass on their car.
The strict rigors vehicle glass has to go through before it can be sold in the United States makes it one of the essential parts of a car. But when a vehicle is equipped with ADAS, always repair using OEM glass to maintain the safety features of that car. Anything less than that, and who knows what could happen. It’s not a risk any technician or driver should be willing to take.